Businesses are an integral part of society and have the capacity to take an active role in promoting a healthier business environment. Further, businesses cannot operate sustainably in an unstable environment rife with violence, protests, and conflicts.
Education also has the potential to promote broader social goals and is a key tool in the hands of businesses dedicated to a just society. For example, there is a direct correlation between education and crime reduction, youth employment reduction, and greater opportunities for previously incarcerated people. Research shows that increased college graduation rates correspond to a significant decrease in crime rates across more than 200 countries, and a 5% increase in the college graduation rate produced an 18.7% reduction in the homicide rate between 1998–2012.
Another avenue for change is through corporate leadership. Business leaders are not only important to their company, but they are also often looked to as societal leaders as well. Eighty six percent of CEOs and board members see business and society as becoming more interconnected. Moreover, customers increasingly seek action from businesses to address social issues and concerns.
Roughly 66% of consumers who want brands to take a stand on social matters say it is because they believe brands can create real change.
As businesses strategize to align values and efforts with consumer expectations, they should invest in organizations and initiatives that promote social stability.
Schools can help disseminate information about safety while also creating safer environments for young people. Communities that invest in such schools tend to have less crime and violence and greater social cohesion. Education in children’s early years yields crime prevention benefits in their older years. Children who did not attend a government preschool program in Chicago were 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by the age of 18. Increased levels of education reduce a country’s risk of armed conflict. Each additional year of schooling decreases the chance of a young person engaging in violent conflict by 20%. Building bridges between schools, community organizations, and opportunities for young people can ensure a pipeline for positive civil, social, and economic participation.
The role of business in society is a key factor of business leadership, success, and sustainability, which should not conflict with growth or profitability. Businesses have the power to address social issues, and consumers are looking to businesses to speak up and act to do so. Education is significantly impactful, and businesses can invest in it to stabilize social issues, especially violence and crime.
Education investments, as efforts to promote greater community stability and safety, can be used to help illustrate a company’s focus on community outreach and engagement. Since these efforts can be linked to quantifiable benefits that can be assessed year over year, they can help companies to demonstrate the efficacy of their actions and the benefit of their presence in a community over time.