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Aligning ESG Plans with Education and Equity

By Amy Nakamoto, Senior Vice President of Social Impact at Discovery Education

Businesses remain the most trusted institution, according to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer. As major societal actors, 61% of people turn to the private sector for leadership, but many agree there is work yet to be done specifically on critical impact issues. With great trust comes great responsibility.

Responsibility in the private sector is often talked about in the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) structure. Additionally, the United Nations recognizes the private sector’s role in building a more equitable society in multiple ways, including through the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17th Sustainable Development Goal – Partnerships for Development – is designed to strengthen the model of implementation by which the other goals can be accomplished and realized. In addition, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) unites multi-sector businesses to achieve a better world together.

As a global company dedicated to ensuring equity of access to high quality education, and as a member of the UNGC, Discovery Education – the global ed-tech leader in K-12 teaching and learning content – believes education is a cornerstone in building a successful future.

In March, Discovery Education convened the Social Impact Partner Summit to strengthen discussions on how to foster equity through, and in, education. Featuring leaders from diverse industries, as well as educational leaders, the virtual event explored topics such as health equity, diversity in STEM pathways, and the social and emotional well-being of students. Here are some key lessons from that event.

Equip the next generation with “durable skills.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on student mental health. A report from the U.S. Attorney General recently found a 40% increase in student feelings of sadness or hopelessness. Even more concerning are the newest findings from Mental Health America which showed that over 2.5 million youths in the U.S. have severe depression, with multiracial youth at the highest risk. Health and education are both matters of equity.

Not only what we learn, but how we learn, produces lifelong impacts. Things like mindfulness, human connection, positive outlook, purpose, generosity, and gratitude (also known as happiness skills) center emotional resiliency. No matter the challenge, as a student learns social and emotional durability, the lessons learned at school become foundational lifelong tools that can help young people withstand challenges big and small.

Building the diverse and innovative next generation of students requires an intentional focus on fostering in students the “durable” skills of social-emotional learning.

Put partnerships at the center.
Strong partnerships serve as an anchor for sustainable impact in other areas, like environment, education, housing, healthcare, and more. By design, partnerships support the lived concept that no one is an island unto themselves.

81% of people believe that corporate leaders, like CEOs, need to be the face and vanguard of change and demonstrate the power of partnership. Barbara Humpton – CEO of Siemens USA – knows all about this. In the Summit keynote, Barbara talked about how the most powerful relationships are network oriented, not hierarchal. Working together and staying focused on the outcome drives change.

Organizations like CVS Health, Genentech, Kaiser Permanente, LG, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and others know this firsthand. These diverse entities are all working with Discovery Education to co-create, building across viewpoints and industries to develop sustainable solutions that ensure equity in education. This network of corporate leaders integrates investing in education into their business model by connecting what students learn at school to what’s happening in the wider world.

Ultimately, successful businesses connect to networks that create lasting change by empowering the future-ready students of today as they become the diverse and innovative workforce of tomorrow.

Want more on this? Explore and discover critical lessons shared during the Social Impact Partner Summit by watching the recordings here.

Tags: CSR, Education, Private-public partnerships, ESG