Corporate Social Responsibility and study abroad

The ups and downs of the global economy have pushed social and environmental issues down the global news agenda in recent years. This graph from Google Trends shows how global interest in “Sustainable Development” has waned over the last decade:

When we started our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) journey at ESL in 2008, our first steps were to analyse how our organisation could be a positive force for the people and environments with which we interact. From this came our Sustainable Development Charter, which has since become an important part of our company culture.

One of our major goals was to improve our global impact while proving that this is beneficial to a company’s bottom line: happy staff, students and suppliers combined with environmental efficiency are good for business.

Another of our goals was to stimulate awareness and action amongst other education industry players. Through initiatives such as the CSR Self-Assessment Tool, this is now becoming a reality. Study Travel Magazine recently dedicated a cover story to CSR within the study abroad sector. ESL – Language Studies Abroad was featured heavily in the article, due to our long-term commitment to sustainable development and to encouraging best practice among our international partners.

Industry-wide challenges

Learning languages is naturally compatible with Sustainable Development. Cultural understanding can only really come from getting out there and meeting other cultures, and this by definition involves travelling. But travelling long distances involves carbon emissions, and particularly when it comes to air travel.

These two forces do not “cancel each other out” and it is important that businesses actively seek opportunities to improve their global impact. For example, at ESL we offer students the chance to mitigate their carbon emissions through myclimate. Small things like this combine to make a difference.

Alongside the CSR Self-Assessment Tool, we have created an industry CSR forum that gives schools a chance to share their own experiences and swap tips.

Into 2015

CSR has become an important part of ESL’s global strategy and we are always looking for new initiatives that are compatible with our business. If you have any suggestions, we would love to hear them. Get in touch via our Facebook pages!

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