After two years of development, B Lab has released voluntary standards for for-profit universities operating as public benefit corporations to establish themselves as B Lab-certified social enterprises. This addendum supplements the existing benchmarking tool, which may be used by nonprofit and for-profit entities of all types to establish they are doing well by doing good.
The new voluntary standards are designed to effectively measure the impact of and improve accountability for institutions of higher learning. These standards include focuses on ethical practices and equitable outcomes for students, particularly among underserved students such as students of color.
The new standards, drafted with funding from Lumina Foundation and guidance from a committee of experts working with HCM Strategists, already have been adopted by for-profit provider Laureate Education, which has earned the B Lab certification. Universities can register and use the tools confidentially at bimpactassessment.net.
“The B Impact Assessment for Higher Education allows institutions to voluntarily evaluate, benchmark and improve their impact and outcomes. B Lab recognizes that the cost and outcomes of higher education, particularly regarding for-profit institutions, have become increasingly controversial, but regardless of structure institutions should put their students’ needs first. We see our role as the promoter of robust standards of industry-specific performance that can be used by for-profits and nonprofits alike to create the greatest possible positive impact and serve the public interest, ultimately by improving the lives of their students.” – Dan Osusky, Standards Development Manager at B Lab
B Lab is a nonprofit that drives social change by changing corporate culture, creating a new breed of companies with a different idea of what it means to do ‘good business’. Instead of solely focusing on profits, B Lab works with companies to ensure that they’re also delivering excellent social and environmental governance and issues a public seal as a “B Corporation” or benefit corporation to qualifying companies.
B lab has already certified more than 1,100 companies from 29 countries who are using the power of business to improve society.
See also chapter 6 from America Needs Talent, “Unleashing Private Sector Innovation” for more on corporations and businesses that have made it a priority to pursue social betterment in concert with their revenues.
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“B Corps are in essence a deconstruction of the false dichotomy between the for-profit and nonprofit universes. This has important implications for building talent nationally. Early experiments have already been undertaken. For example, Rasmussen College changed its status to a public benefit corporation in 2014 after nearly a century of experience as a traditional for-profit entity. While these types of conversions are a start, the real opportunity is in the creation of wholly new B Corps that see the social mission as their raison d’être at the onset, not something to retreat to because of regulatory or other pressures.” – America Needs Talent, pg. 104.