The majority of readers at our website—www.globaledleadership.org — are school leaders from low and middle-income communities and nations. You have been our target readers since we started the website and blogs in March of 2018. Thank you to the over 15,000 people who visit our website annually. And thank you to the nearly 200 bloggers from around the world who have contributed to our website.
I’ve spent more than 35 years in Pk-12 and higher education, and although I still work in the sector, in the last ten years I’ve been involved in social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Schools, – whether they are for-profit, non-profit, government public schools, charters, religious or secular, each are part of a far, far larger ecosystem that plays a key role in the education of all learners. Perhaps it is a tacit rather than explicit role, but nonetheless school leaders need to understand the ecosystem in which we work, since we need to ensure our actions match our beliefs and values.
Here’s one important question: When we contract a service or buy a product for our schools, are we living our values? Do we even take them into consideration? The decisions we make—whether they are for our personal lives or for our schools—demonstrate our values and beliefs. So, I ask you—in your personal and work lives are you working with organizations that demonstrate the values that you espouse to staff and your school community?
B Certified Organizations
Schools partner with a variety of organizations; whether we need tech support, professional development for staff, food for the cafeteria, paper and printers for the office, textbooks and readers for the classroom. We hire architects, painters, contractors, roofers, and cleaners. We work with banks, law firms, micro-finance institutions, and many more. How do we select those companies? Is selection based solely on price or the fact that we know the person who works at the company? Or, for many of us, the decisions to hire and purchase are made somewhere else (like the “Central Office” where you might have little influence.)
Just as we want families to understand the uniqueness of the schools we lead, there are companies that focus not only on making a profit but equally value the environment, social concerns, and the people who work in their organizations or supply them goods and services. Just as you apply for accreditation for your school, there are companies that apply for what is called B Corp Certification. There are nearly 5,700 Certified B Corporations in more than 85 countries and over 158 industries. This is a relatively new phenomenon with the nonprofit B-Labs first certifying organizations in 2007.
B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors ranging from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices. In order to achieve certification, a company must:
- Demonstrate high social and environmental performance
- Make a legal commitment by changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
- Exhibit transparency by allowing information about their performance to be publicly available.
Here are a few examples of education-related companies that are certified B Corporations:
These are just a few examples of the thousands of certified B Corporations worldwide. Just as you want to ensure that your schools are places of excellence, the B certified community wants to ensure that businesses are forces for good. In fact, they sign a declaration that states:
As Certified B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:
- That we must be the change we seek in the world.
- That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
- That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
- To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.
The mission and vision are just as important to these companies as the mission and vision you have for your school. So, I ask you to consider –With what organizations does your school do business? Do they demonstrate care about their people, clients and the environment of your nation and community?
In my next blog I’ll talk about another way businesses can demonstrate that the three P’s – people, profit and planet – are key to us being responsible global citizens. As leaders in education, we need to be aware of who we buy from and what values they live by. Just as we don’t want a company to use child labor to make their products, schools need to purposefully select companies with whom they work. Just as we want our students to be good global citizens, we as leaders in education need to pay heed to where we source the products, services and organizations that work with our schools.
Thanks for reading!