By Prince Acquah
Cape Coast, Mar 15, GNA – Mrs Alice Osei Okrah, Head of Strategy and Transaction, Ernst and Young (EY) Ghana, has urged business schools to integrate the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework into their curriculum to help address some critical challenges in the country.
ESG is a set of standards that checks how the operations of companies impact the environment, how employees are treated and how the companies uphold corporate governance.
The framework is also at the heart of achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which focus especially on the environment and the social wellbeing of the population.
Highlighting the increasing importance of the framework to industry, Mrs Okrah, said it was critical for business schools to develop and run a special ESG course to create awareness and produce responsible industry players.
“When there is a course like that, it will help provide holistic training and develop future leaders who are climate inclined and whatever decisions they take will help future generations,” she noted.
She was speaking at the second edition of the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) Engagement Series of the School of Business of the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
She spoke on the theme: “Infusing Environmental, Social and Governance in Programme Delivery; Prospects for Holistic Training.”
The programme which was instituted last year brings CEOs and other top management of corporate entities including professional bodies to discuss issues of relevance to the training and development of students.
It forms part of the school’s quest to equip students with the relevant skills for the 21-Century industry.
Mrs Okrah indicated that ESG had become an integral part of the business world and as such students must take advantage of every learning avenue to build their capacity in the field.
She observed that people were gradually developing the awareness and incorporating the ESG into their businesses, adding that even though it might be expensive in the short term, it gave long-term value.
She further indicated that regulators such as the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had launched special guidelines to check their respective sectors because ESG enhanced resource efficiency and sustainable production and consumption and financial institutions look favourably on entities with such policies.
“There is the Green Bond Guidelines that the Ghana Stock Exchange through the Ghana Fixed Income Market has launched so that people that need funding for green or sustainability-linked projects will be able to access”, she added.
Mrs Okrah stressed that to create that awareness, it was important to start from the fundamentals through academia because “once we get it right, it has an overall implication on leaders we are churning out; those that are going into industry and entrepreneurship.”
Prof John Gatsi, the Dean of UCC School of Business explained that the programme was designed to develop the skills of students such as data skills and public speaking to build their capacity for the job market.
Apart from that, he said the school also believed in internships to give students some experiences required to thrive in the work environment.
He therefore appealed to industry stakeholders to support the school with internship opportunities for the students.
The Dean further announced that the school was pursuing accreditation for some new postgraduate programmes including MSc Public Financial Management, MSc Corporate Governance and Strategic Management, MSC Human Resource Management, and MSC Business engineering to expand its scope.
Pro Rosemond Boohene, the Pro Vice Chancellor of UCC, noted that industry-academia collaboration was at the heart of the school because that was necessary to train students with 21-Century skills who will be agents of change within their communities.
She urged students to build networks with CEOs to increase their chances of succeeding in the world of business.