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HSBC employees can take a day off to support a volunteer activity of their choice, such as the Vancouver Pride parade on Aug. 2.John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

For the past five years, Dru Gheorghe has been an active student volunteer on socially-significant issues.

At his Catholic high school in Cambridge, Ont., he founded the Accepting Differences club to serve students in the LGBTQ community. As a student trustee with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, he helped organize two student conferences on inclusion.

Last year, in his first year of undergraduate international business studies at York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto, he held a paid position as an event co-ordinator to support LGBTQ students in residence. As a volunteer, he helped revive the school's LGBTQ + Club and joined other school initiatives on corporate social responsibility and mentoring.

For his efforts, he is one of three winners this year of the HSBC LGBT Student Awards, each worth $5,000, offered at Schulich and four other Canadian business schools. Winners, chosen by their schools, are recognized for academic achievement, leadership skills and community service with LGBTQ organizations or initiatives. Recipients can apply for summer internships with the bank, with opportunities to join its management trainee programs after graduation.

This month, Mr. Gheorghe is in Peru to volunteer at an animal shelter and zoo. The 19-year-old says previous trips to Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, both for community service projects, have shaped his philosophy to bring a socially-responsible perspective to his chosen career in the investment industry. "When you see first-hand the conditions that people are living in, you understand why it is so important to make ethical investment decisions," he says.

HSBC, the leading international bank in Canada, instituted the student award program two years ago to put its corporate stamp on diversity and inclusion.

"We wanted to do more than talk about that [value]," says Brad Schmale, head of HSBC's Pride Network for Canada and head of client management in Canada.

The bank also works with the Canadian Institute for Diversity and Inclusion and other organizations to promote LGBTQ programs. HSBC employees can take a day off to support a volunteer activity of their choice, such as the Vancouver Pride parade on Aug. 2.

Noting recent breakthroughs for the LGBTQ community, Mr. Schmale says, "We have made a lot of progress but there is still a long way to go."

Mr. Gheorghe agrees. "I am extremely fortunate to be living in these days but the future is even better."

School expands executive education with alliances

HEC Montréal has been active in executive education for six decades.

With an eye to expansion, the business school recently announced new alliances to increase training options for those moving up the corporate ladder.

"We thought we could do better and take our game to another level," says HEC Montréal dean Michel Patry.

In a strategy of collaboration with organizations in Canada and Europe, the school will work with the Conference Board and its Niagara Institute (for executive leadership training) as well as the European Center for Executive Development, the Fonds de solidarité (a trade union-backed development capital fund) and other public and private sector organizations.

HEC Montréal already has a partnership with the Conference Board of Canada through the Institute of Quebec, established in 2014 to analyze the province's economic challenges.

"HEC has certain capabilities and we have certain capabilities," says Daniel Muzyka, president and chief executive officer of the Conference Board. " Let's work together for the benefit of the people and decision-makers in Quebec."

In rethinking executive training, the Montreal school aims to strengthen ties with employers so that emerging leaders pursue learning opportunities as they rise through the ranks. The school will also offer new training modules, such as one- to two-hour talks over the course of several weeks for all members of a company's executive committee.

"We want to provide more agile ways to deliver training," says Alain Gosselin, director of the École des dirigeants, the new one-stop centre for executive training. "[Business leaders] need to have access to experts and issues and don't always have access to the appropriate analysis. But they want to have a discussion about issues for a couple of hours."

Currently, the school trains about 8,000 executives a year, but Dr. Patry aims to boost enrolment to between 12,000 and 15,000 students in five years with an expanded client base in and beyond Quebec. Unlike tuition capped by the province, the school sets its own fees and retains the revenue.

"The writing is on the wall," he says. "If we want to do a lot more we have to do more outside of Quebec as well."

For its part, the Conference Board of Canada is eager to work with business schools to disseminate research and knowledge to business leaders.

"If we want to move the dial on those issues [Canada's poor showing on productivity and innovation] we need to keep building the capabilities of our management cadre across the country," says Dr. Muzyka. "That is why this is natural for us to be a partner with business schools."

To date, the Conference Board has 12 partnerships with Canadian business schools, with more expected over time.

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