How Transparency and Accountability Are Good for Business
Advocacy Business is about more than making money. It can be a force for good too.
That’s the thinking behind a movement spearheaded by B Lab, a nonprofit that’s focused on “redefining success in business.”
That redefinition includes creating quality jobs for workers and improving quality of life for those in the community, including supporting volunteering and environmental issues.
B Lab offers Certified B Corporation certification for businesses that want to be a change for good. Currently over 1600 companies in over 120 industries in 42 countries have been certified as B Corps.
Two years ago, Laureate Education, Inc., the largest network of degree-granting higher education institutions in the world, became a certified B corporation.
“We’re committed to operating as a business that serves the public good,” says Esther Benjamin, Laureate’s Senior Vice President of Global Public Affairs and Chief Benefit Officer.
Laureate, also a public benefit corporation, has institutions in 25 countries around the world. They want to be transparent with stakeholders.
“Accountability is built into what we do,” says Benjamin, who explains the company is accountable to 60,000 faculty and staff members as well as a million students globally.
“Accountability is built into what we do .”
Every two years the company renews its B Corp certification. Not only does Laureate recertify — but they require their affiliated institutions (over 50 schools) to certify too. They’re the first company to take that approach — having both the corporate entity and network institutions go through the certification process.
Certification includes an impact assessment, which takes two to four hours and evaluates the business’ social and environmental performance.
Laureate is “being honest and transparent about what we’re doing well and what we seek to improve,” says Benjamin, noting among other corporate social responsibility efforts, they’re measuring student retention, completion and satisfaction rates as well as how students fare after graduation with jobs and salaries.
Some certification assessments revealed easy changes, such as making sure HR policies were written down. But other assessments will take time.
“The deepest impact comes from a long-term view, accompanied by investment and commitment by the company at all levels,” says Benjamin, explaining they’re focused on access to education and outreach to providing higher education for special interest populations, as well as academic quality and excellence.