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Responsible Questions and Sustainable Responses

Next Year, the six-month further training course (CAS) Corporate Responsibility starts. Participants acquire the necessary tools to strategically anchor corporate responsibility and sustainability management in companies and thus contribute to corporate success. The course content is taught by experts from various industries and areas. Herbert Winistörfer, Head of Center for Corporate Responsibility and Director of the Program, explains in an interview whom the course is intended for and what skills it teaches.

Your CAS Corporate Responsibility program is designed to give students the skills they need to integrate corporate responsibility into companies. What makes corporate responsibility so essential today?
Integrating sustainability and social responsibility into the company's strategy, structures and culture can be a decisive competitive factor and contribute to the company's success or value. Products with additional social and ecological benefits are thus appealing to growing customer segments. This enables companies to open up new markets and differentiate themselves from the competition. Sustainability also plays a central role in reputation and brand identification. If risks such as the human rights situation at suppliers are neglected, high costs for the reconstruction of reputation and brand value are threatening. In addition, employees reward a working atmosphere based on partnership, healthy and family-friendly working conditions or meaningful work with higher motivation and motivation. Finally, credible social commitment creates trust among consumers, partners, at the location and in the public.

Sustainability in the company is one of the cornerstones of what is taught in your course. What does this mean in practice?
Every company must find its own approach to sustainability: Risk or opportunity oriented? Communicate in a very public-effective or cautious manner? Participatory implementation or directive? Our participants should be able to guide companies along this path. In addition to these overarching tasks, the focus is on very concrete implementation, for example: How must a supplier code be formulated in such a way that sustainability requirements are effectively integrated?

Beyond these competencies, the course promotes a comprehensive understanding of corporate responsibility as an integrated, strategic and systematic approach that offers added value for the company and society at large. Seven individual two-day intensive seminars on each of the most important challenges that companies have to solve lead to this understanding.

Who should attend the CAS Corporate Responsibility program? What preferences and interests should prospective students have?
The course is suitable for four different groups of people: (1) representatives for CSR and sustainability in companies; (2) persons in functions such as product development, marketing, communication or procurement who deal with sustainability issues; (3) persons who implement sustainability projects with companies in public authorities, associations, foundations, non-governmental or non-profit organizations; (4) persons who wish to develop the professional field of corporate responsibility. The participants benefit greatly from the diversity of the participants and the different perspectives they bring in. For some, sustainability as a social vision is very important, for others, the traditional business perspective, so that they seek win-win situations through corporate responsibility. This results in exciting discussions.

What was the motivation for you to launch CAS Corporate Responsibility?
We are convinced that many tasks can only be solved in the medium term with the necessary competencies when it comes to establishing sustainability or social responsibility in the company. These competencies can be acquired through CAS Corporate Responsibility. Companies increasingly need experts who are able to integrate sustainability and social responsibility into strategy, structures and culture. In this context, we can offer participants in our course additional added value in that we know the current CR challenges through our own application-oriented research projects. We are involved in these research projects in the development of innovative solutions and contribute this expertise to the course.

Companies change their economic, social and ecological environment through their activities. Conversely, social challenges such as climate change, poverty, environmental pollution, etc. influence the success of companies. Future-oriented companies influence these conditions and integrate them into their business strategy. Two key questions are crucial here: What social performance do important stakeholder groups such as customers, employees, investors or authorities expect from the company? And: Which social services can be used to create value for the company itself and for society, i.e. a so-called "shared value"?