Speaking at the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit on 20 September, UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown released The Smartest Investment: A Framework for Business Engagement in Education, spotlighting the global education crisis and the urgency for business to engage in education.
The central part of the framework is a three-part engagement process that develops a business case for investment in education, identifies activities that impact education challenges and benefit business, and applies best practices for responsible engagement.
HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY?
The framework is an important tool to guide the business community towards addressing severe education challenges, including putting 57 million out-of-school children in school.
As noted in the framework, benefits to business may be derived by:
1. Fostering Innovation in Education – New revenue streams could be created through the development of innovative educational products and services.
2. Addressing Operational Risks – Responsibly aligning corporate policy with investment in education can produce great benefit to a community’s well-being, positively impacting business stability.
3. Improving Brand Leadership and Enhancing Corporate Reputation – 50% of global consumers surveyed in a 2013 Nielsen study were willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that gave back to society. 
4. Boosting Employee Morale and Retention – Employees are more committed to companies who invest in socially responsible activities, leading to increased job activity, satisfaction, and lower turnover rates.
5. Developing Capacity of Future Employees – Providing community professional development and training opportunities helps foster the skill set needed to develop a competent future workforce.
Aside from a moral case, the framework helps senior managers, corporate sustainability directors, and business strategists articulate a business case to justify engagement in education.