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Nottingham Business School pilots Sustainability and Inclusive Leadership short course for launch in autumn 2020

In June and July 2020, Nottingham Business School ran a two-day pilot with local SMEs focusing on COVID-19, the climate crisis, and how learnings from one can support the other.

SAIL generic artwork

This support is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund

In June and July Nottingham Business School (NBS) and The Green Academy ran its first pilot of a new fully funded short course titled ‘Sustainability and Inclusive Leadership’, with nine representatives from six different businesses.

The course, which is now taking enquiries for the autumn term is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), and explores the global climate crisis, the very real impact this will have on the economic landscape, and how important it is for businesses to be more sustainable as they work towards COVID-19 recovery.

The pilot covered a range of topics, including personal values, ethical decision-making and health and wellbeing, before taking a more focused look at sustainability through the lens of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate action and carbon literacy.

Participants were also able to learn more about the circular economy – an economic system emphasising minimal waste through re-use, sharing, repaid and recycling – and the ‘doughnut economy’ – a visual framework for sustainable development.

After the pilot, feedback was gathered from participants in order to ensure that the content was relevant for both businesses and them as individuals. This forms a core part of the programme in which we put the voice of SMEs at the heart of our curriculum through co-design.

These responses are now being considered as our course leaders design the final content for the courses delivered from autumn 2020.

Why should you or your business care about sustainability?

One participant on the pilot course said: “I thought it was a useful introduction to reflect about one’s core values and ethics, how this links to the work we do. I felt it made it obvious that we have to bring our values to work and this will lead to wanting to do things in a more sustainable way.”

An analysis of businesses that have enrolled on the programme up to December 2019 shows that nearly 50% of SMEs across the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (D2N2) area do not have a sustainability policy. While this is just one indicator of practice, it represents a significant area of development and opportunity for local small and medium-sized businesses.

At the same time when considering more recent events, COVID-19 has thrown us into a state of disarray, adversely impacting our lives and the economy, and from this there are learnings that can help businesses plan for a changing future. A recent study in The Guardian showed that 'just 6% of the 350 participants wanted a return to a pre-pandemic economy', including the Confederation of British Industry and the British Chamber of Commerce. What will this mean for the SME sector?

It is our view that businesses now have the perfect opportunity to revisit the climate crisis which is still one of the greatest challenges that will go on affecting all aspects of business and society unless we take action.

By taking part in this training, you will gain an understanding of:

  • how climate and COVID-19 bounce off one another
  • how business is affected by the climate, and vice versa
  • the impact different sectors such as food and drink have on our climate, and vice versa
  • climate change mitigation tools for your role at work or/and business function
  • recovery and change strategies
  • solutions with the highest impact: in your personal life and in your role at work
  • the different options with regards to contemporary economic theories on how SMEs and individuals can rebuild post-COVID-19 by doing things differently and adopting a more sustainable approach

Plus, you will receive support to develop an action plan to apply learning to your business. You could also receive a full certificate issued by The Carbon Literacy Trust.

This course has been developed in response to these questions to support managers and employees within local small businesses. Participants will learn how to enhance their personal appreciation and become a change-maker, post-COVID-19, in their own life and work.

In real terms, businesses can expect a range of benefits including saving money, attracting and retaining employees and customers, reducing waste, increasing productivity, and getting a head start on becoming compliant for future regulations.

Sign up for our Sustainability and Inclusive Leadership course

The full course will be delivered from autumn 2020 and – at least initially due to ongoing restrictions – will likely be delivered online in short, bitesize, accessible sessions.

To express an interest for you or your colleagues to take part, email for information on securing a place on upcoming dates.

Please note that to be eligible for this course, you will need to be an employee of a D2N2-based SME. A full eligibility check will take place prior to enrolment.