Responsible Business: motivators and barriers for 'beyond CSR' practices in a 'beyond GDP' world
Isabel is a business professional with more than 20 years experience in blending the fields of business, sustainability and wellbeing, bringing a uniquely integrated approach to sustainable and responsible business. Her experience spans from Australia, Germany, India, Tajikistan to Bhutan, working in management, planning, reserach, teaching and consulting roles. She has worked in travel & tour companies, airlines, industry associations, NGOs, universities, boutique hotels and for seven years as a co-founder of a sustainable tourism consultancy in Australia. She had the unique opportunity of working in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan for nine years between 2006 and 2015. One of her projects for a 5-star boutique resort in Bhutan was to develop a ‘beyond’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme incorporating Bhutan's development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). This project inspired her to look deeper into the dynamics of operating responsible businesses in the context of ‘wellbeing economies’ such as in Bhutan that set as their overarching goal societal wellbeing and happiness. This lead to her current PhD research study at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Her research explores enablers and barriers for international companies to engage in ‘beyond CSR’ initiatives, and how beyond-GDP, wellbeing economics and new economics thinking influence new forms of measurements such as quality of life indices to assess their social impact.
Isabel has a Bachelor of Business from Victoria University, a Post-graduate Diploma in Environmental Studies at Macquarie University, a Certificate in Workplace Training & Assessment and an Advanced Diploma of Yoga Teaching. She was also a PhD Associate at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at Exeter University in the UK from November 2014 until March 2015.
Isabel has a great love for hiking (and meditating) in the Himalayan mountains. She is a qualified Yoga & Meditation teacher and travels regularly to India and Bhutan for further studies.
Sebastian, I. 2015, 'Business and Corporate Social Responsibility in a Gross National Happiness Economy: Insights from Bhutan', Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society, 26th Annual IABS Conference Pura Vida: Realizing Eudemonia in Business and Society, International Association for Business and Society, Costa Rica, pp. 24-38.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The current debate around better measures of progress and going 'beyond-Gross Domestic Product (GDP)' raises the question of implications for businesses and their sustainability efforts. Bhutan, with its Gross National Happiness (GNH) development approach provides an interesting case to investigate businesses in an economy focused on improving the conditions for wellbeing and happiness in society, alongside the goal of growing GDP. This study explores if and how GNH influences business conduct and sustainability efforts in Bhutan. It also investigates Bhutanese business and government leaders perceptions of the concept of GNH in relation to concepts such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Sustainability (CS). Some preliminary findings include that the Bhutanese value-system forms the foundation of business leaders' world-views and influences their business conduct and decision-making more than the
recent formulation of the GNH framework. A comparison of the CSR, CS and GNH frameworks shows however that the GNH model has the potential to offer a sustainability framework that goes beyond-CSR.
Sebastian, I.C. 2014, 'Accelerating new economics thinking and practices in the business sector - what are the most effective systems leverage points to create a shift?', Business Systems Laboratory - 2nd International Symposium "Systems Thinking for a Sustainable Economy. Advancements in Economic and Managerial Theory and Practice., Rome, Italy.View/Download from: UTS OPUS