We are headed toward a future that is demonstrated every day in the classroom, where we train the professionals of tomorrow for a future in which they, young people, will have to respond to the needs of an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. But that is the challenge: to educate individuals from the standpoint of an ethical commitment that guarantees socially sustainable progress, professionals able to create and innovate so as to positively impact society: people able to successfully lead projects in an extremely uncertain environment, subject to profound transformation.
The professionals of tomorrow will be incredibly vital in a context where the reputation economy – a term coined in 2011 at the 15th International Conference on Corporate Reputation, Brand, Identity, and Competitivenessin Rio de Janeiro – will determine the new roadmap.
With this model, purchasing, investment, and employment decisions largely depend on the level of admiration, respect, and trust organizations, institutions, brands, and even countries inspire. This is an environment where intangible asset management is key, because organizations able to create social value are prioritized in this new business model. There is a shift in competitive focus established by the reputation economy; namely, it adds greater involvement in society from institutions, organizations, businesses/brands, which are more transparent, ethical, and credible.
It is therefore increasingly common to see that a result of this reputation economy is that companies are dedicating increasing amounts of time and effort into managing intangible resources, because, according to Corporate Excellence, 80% of the total value of an organization currently lies in its intangible resources and assets. In fact, the report Approaching the Future. Trends in Reputation and Management of Intangible Assets offers a complete view of the management of intangible assets today and the future challenges that we face.
Within the realm of reputation trends, corporate missions are the most relevant trend in 2019, as indicated by the Reputation Institute in its report 2019 Reputation Macro-Trends that Every C-Suite Exec Should Know, a solid mission creates a better reputation and, as a result, higher profits. This demonstrates that in the corporate environment, intangible assets such as brand, communications, and reputation are the best compass in a complex environment, and they guide us toward doing the things that matter well, because there is no shortcut to a good reputation.
At this point, I’d like to highlight how the 2030 Agenda has been launched in a historic moment in which states, companies, educational institutions, and civil society have come together to outline the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These goals entail a new scenario that opens the door to opportunities for progress in sustainable development, social justice, human rights, gender equality, etc. At the same time, they also represent an opportunity that we cannot let pass because it is the first time that there is consensus among all social actors.
As the chairwoman of Unión Profesional said at the event Professionals for the Common Good with the 2030 Agenda as a Tool, held in May 2018 – organized by the MAEC – “without professionals we wouldn’t have the world we have, nor could we advance toward the world we want.” From that perspective, as an active part of civil society, professionals are especially involved in the care and development of citizens, whose work is reflected in each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
We are in an environment in which organizations and companies must do everything they can so that their business activity, investments, and innovations allow them to contribute to the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda and their CSR strategy is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. That is why it is no surprise that CSR has become a key tool to invigorating corporate activity in favor of not only corporate sustainability, but also the sustainability of the planet, because a CSR strategy doesn’t make sense if it is not closely related to the DNA of a company and that DNA ultimately has a social purpose. At this university there are multiple examples of projects that work to improve our teaching by showing the social side of the content our students take on in many degree programs. One of them is the great work being done at the Consulting Lab, run by the School of Social Sciences, to bring challenge-based learning to the classroom. The Consulting Lab, which aims to base learning on the real-life challenges of companies and organizations, has incorporated different business models and even social companies and social entrepreneurs that work with our students on projects tailored to the needs of these companies, whose ways of working and vision align tremendously with the 2030 Agenda and the SDG. Undoubtedly, social concerns are becoming increasingly significant in the agenda and management of companies. Aware of the impact of their reputation on consumer behavior, these companies have adapted their strategies to include, among other things, intangible asset management. This makes it difficult to imagine a future for companies that do not include social responsibility in their mission, culture, and strategy. Only by heeding the demands of society and its citizens, will they be able to forge ahead.