In December 2015, Laureate and its network institutions became a Certified B Corporation (B Corp), 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. Laureate is proud to join this movement, but has always considered the social mission of delivering high-quality higher education to students worldwide as central to its operations. B Corp certification was just another way to measure and declare this mission.
To become a B Corp, a company has to score above an 80 on a rigorous assessment that measures a company’s social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. The assessment and certification is 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 certification.
As part of Laureate’s recertification in 2017, five institutions, including the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS), were selected at random for a site visit. Being chosen for a site visit means the institution goes through a rigorous validation of their responses in the assessment, including providing documentation and a campus tour led by B Lab analysts.
Since the last certification in 2015, USAHS has launched and completed a variety of social, environmental, employee engagement, and community impact initiatives, which have had positive impact on our score. Some examples include our “green” initiatives to install energy efficient lights and appliances, reduce the number of cars on campus, and increase recycling opportunities, as well as increased training opportunities, a focus on diversity and inclusion, and improved communications through Campus Connection. These are just a few examples of the many things USAHS does every day to positive impact the university community, the industries, and the communities in which we live, work, and educate.
The site visit at the University of St. Augustine, which occurred on August 1, 2017 on the San Marcos campus, was a success. The team’s preparation ensured that the site visit was efficient and very well received. For the site visit, a team of two B Lab analysts were on site for a day to meet students, faculty, and staff, check documentation and validate responses, complete a campus tour, and give a presentation about the broader B Corp community.
Following the site visit, there are a few follow-up requests that have already been sent to B Lab. After the B Lab team reviews these follow-up items, they will send the St. Augustine the final site visit report, along with the final 2017 recertification score for the university. Once this score is released, USAHS will be asked to keep this score confidential until the end of 2017 when all Laureate network institutions have completed the assessment and the final Laureate score is released. At that time, Laureate will release an official statement announcing our recertification as a network, and the university will be free to communicate this internally and externally as it likes.
Above and beyond the actual site visit, B Lab was very impressed with the wonderful progress that has taken place at the university with regards to the university’s social and environmental impact. This assessment is simply a tool to measure and benchmark the impact a company is having on its various stakeholders, and our improved score is a testament to the outstanding commitment the university’s staff and faculty has to delivering an excellent educational experience to its students.
We are proud to be recognized as a Certified B Corporation and will continue to share this important designation with our campus community, alumni, potential students, and local community partners.