Diving Deeper – Laureate’s B Corp Certification
Since its inception, Laureate has been driven by the fundamental belief that when “our students succeed, countries prosper and societies benefit.” Laureate’s spirit of being Here for Good continues to evolve, and over the past two years Laureate has been redefining what it means to be Here for Good by joining the B Corp movement, a new movement of companies using business as a force for good.
For example, on February 1, 2017, Laureate made history by becoming the first ever Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) to become publicly traded. Prior to that, in December 2015, Laureate became a Certified B Corporation, thus becoming the largest B Corp in the world, and the first to have all of its institutions certified on the higher education addendum.
The entire premise behind the B Corp movement is the idea of for-profit companies conducting business in a way that not only delivers a profit, but positively impacts its customers, employees and communities through its business model and operations.
While the term “B Corp” may be new to many around the Laureate network, the values and mission inherent in the B Corp movement are already integrated into the fabric of Laureate institutions around the world. From free community health clinics in Brazil, to the engineering departments across the network that have students developing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, Laureate institutions have long been committed to positively impacting the world.
To better understand how Laureate institutions are actively contributing to the B Corp community, it is important to understand what it means to be a Certified B Corp, and how we got there.
Certified B Corporations are for-profit companies that have passed a rigorous assessment that measures a company’s social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. To become a B Corp, a company has to score above an 80 on the assessment administered by B Lab, a non-profit organization headquartered in the United States. For Laureate to become certified, each institution has successfully taken and scored above an 80 on the assessment, and is required to take the assessment every two years in order to maintain our certification. The B Corp assessment measures a company’s impact in five impact areas: customers, workers, community, environment, governance.
One critical area focuses on how a company treats the customers it serves. For higher education service providers, the customers impact area is focused on students. The assessment measures the student experience and quality of education on our campuses; student outcomes through retention, completion and employment; and marketing and recruitment of prospective students. The customer impact area is focused on measuring Laureate’s impact on its over one million students across the network.
A second impact area that is considered for a B Corp certification is how a company treats the employees that work for it. The B Corp assessment measures Laureate’s compensation and benefits structure, recruiting practices, and how well we train and prepare employees for furthering their careers. With more than 60,000 faculty and staff in 25 countries around the world, the data we collect from the B Corp assessment allows us to benchmark and understand our impact on our employees in order to continuously improve the employee experience.
This impact area is designed to better understand and measure how a company interacts and impacts the local communities that it serves. The main focus of this impact area is a company’s volunteerism and community service. In addition, this impact area places emphasis on the diversity and inclusion of workforce, and the economic impact a company has on a community by hiring and sourcing from local sources. As a keystone value of Laureate’s spirit of being Here for Good, Laureate’s network continues to make a large impact on local communities through initiatives like Global Days of Service, free health clinics to the community, partnerships with local organizations, and helping revitalize neighborhoods surrounding our campuses.
To become a Certified B Corp, a company is assessed on its physical impact from its facilities, the inputs into the facility – e.g., water and energy consumption, and its waste products. As Laureate continues on its mission to expand access to quality higher education, we take seriously our impact on the environment. This means we are working to better understand and minimize the negative impact that our operations have on the surrounding environment.
The final area of impact that the B Corp certification considers is a company’s governance structure, measuring how a company engages with its staff, faculty, and community in fulfilling its mission. Further, the governance impact area measures corporate accountability and transparency, a company’s ethics, and finally financial reporting. For Laureate, this means continuing to train our managers and employees about our mission and continuing to be transparent in all that we do.