AIEP Leverages B Corp Certification to Increase Impact

An Interview with Maria Olivia Rivas, Community Engagement Director at AIEP

As we all know, in 2015 Laureate became a Certified B Corporation® (B CorpTM) by passing a rigorous assessment of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. For Laureate to become a B CorpTM, each institution in the network was also required to complete the same assessment.

Laureate’s Here for Good spirit is nothing new for our network, and our B CorpTM certification is just another way to integrate the spirit across the network. Attaining B CorpTM certification and integrating the Here for Good spirit in everything we do would not be possible without exemplary leaders all across the network, including Maria Olivia Rivas, Community Engagement Director at AIEP in Chile.

We talked with Maria Olivia about what B CorpTM certification means for AIEP, and how AIEP is leveraging the certification to help define and improve their impact.

Laureate Global Public Affairs: You have done an incredible job integrating the B CorpTM program across different business units, getting buy-in from both students and staff alike.  What has AIEP done to ensure that the B CorpTM program is not a stand alone program, but is integrated across all business functions?

Maria Olivia Rivas: We have integrated the B CorpTM program into our central management system, where we operate all our other measurement and quality programs, things like SOX, ISO 9001, and institutional or departmental accreditation.

GPA: Shifting the focus to students, staff and faculty, how large is AIEP’s reach in Chile?

MOR: We have more than 98,000 students at 21 campuses all across Chile. And we have more than 4,500 faculty and staff members.

GPA: And how have you gone about integrating the B CorpTM program across campuses?

MOR: We formed an “AIEP B Corp Committee” made up of many different stakeholders from the institution. The group meets every 15 days and each campus is represented by two directors. These people are then responsible for communicating about what we decide and want to undertake to the rest of their campus.

GPA: You have worked really hard to promote the B CorpTM program to staff and faculty, and have done a wonderful job working with Sistema B and engaging with the broader B CorpTM community, specifically through your B CorpTM workshops. Can you describe these workshops briefly?

MOR: Our workshops are for groups of around 30 people and focus on three important aspects of B CorpTM: the global movement of people using business as a force for good, why AIEP is part of the movement, and the assessment and how to use it as a benchmarking tool. For now, these workshops are just for faculty and staff, but in 2017, we want to integrate students in and have groups of students working on campuses on projects that are in line with our B CorpTM certification.

GPA: Regarding communicating the B CorpTM message and building knowledge and excitement on campus, what have you done to tell the story to different stakeholders?

MOR: We designed a campaign together with our vice rector of communications, focused on “telling the story of B Corp” to our population at AIEP, so that they can understand and feel a part of this. This certification is definitely another tool for communicating the AIEP story in a new way.

GPA: The B CorpTM assessment is a great tool to benchmark and improve your impact. However, with so many questions on the assessment, and so many stakeholders to consider, it can be challenging to define what “impact” means for your institutions and what to improve on. What impact areas are you focused on improving?

MOR: After B CorpTM certification, we worked to create an impact improvement plan with many different aspects. First, we want to increase the participation of university personnel and faculty in volunteering work. Second, we also are looking at the impact of our organization on all our suppliers, and working to improve our policies around who we buy from. As well, with students, we have many initiatives underway, like our annual community initiatives and our strategy of service learning in many departments.

GPA: Do you have anything else to add about the broader mission of AIEP and Laureate, and how that relates to B CorpTM certification?

MOR: We are convinced that what we do as Laureate, and that the core business of AIEP (and of Laureate), already has tremendous social impact. We have a conviction that although we became a B CorpTM, we held the principles of B CorpTM long before that. Using the B CorpTM assessment, we have a way to measure, day-to-day, our activities and contribution to higher education in general.

For more information, contact Maria Olivia Rivas ([email protected]).