As vice president of human resources for the American College of Education, KK Byland is tasked with ensuring everyone who works at ACE – staff and faculty alike – is happy and feels fulfilled. With ACE earning a Best Place to Work in Indiana distinction for a third year in a row this year, it's pretty obvious that's going pretty well.
However, KK isn't satisfied with just keeping ACE employees happy. She's determined to have ACE spread that positivity to as many people as possible – students, schools and the local community. Since ACE first became a Certified B Corporation in 2017, KK has been a relentless champion of making sure ACE lives by the B Corporation motto of using business as a force for good.
With ACE recently getting re-certified, we asked KK for some insights into why it means so much for ACE to have been and to continue to be a B Corporation.
ACE: What does it mean to be a Certified B Corporation? What makes it significant?
KK Byland (KK): As described on B Corporation’s official website, Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. This is significant because we’re not just evaluated on our product or service, but we’re evaluated on the overall positive impact ACE has on all stakeholders. It’s about how we serve our students, yes. But it’s also about how we serve our employees, our environment and our communities.
ACE: Why did ACE want to become a B Corp?
KK: ACE wanted to make a public commitment to all stakeholders to address the social responsibility inherent in our mission and core values. We wanted to publicly recognize our accountability to our students, our employees and our community partners.
ACE: So ACE is an online college that’s a “force for good.” What does that actually look like?
KK: In 2018, it looked like over 900 individual volunteer hours from our employees, more than 650 backpacks donated to local schools, more than 150 meals donated through Feeding America and our partnership with SnackNation and more than 600 toiletry items donated to local Ronald McDonald Houses and women’s shelters. I could go on and on. Bottom line, we have continuous efforts happening throughout the college every day to ensure we are as sustainable and community-minded as possible. We truly strive to be a bright spot in our community.
ACE: We recently got re-certified as a B Corp. Why do you have to get re-certified?
KK: This isn’t a “one and done” model. It’s a model of excellence that requires each company to re-certify every three years. You must do this to prove that you are not only holding up your end of the B Corporation standards, but to also prove that you’ve sustained the model they originally certified. So every three years you start all over. You take the assessment again, you provide the supporting documentation, you go through the entire process. It’s an honor to know that each Certified B Corporation has gone through the same rigorous process and is held to the same standards. I welcome the re-certification process. I want a third-party assessing ACE and recognizing us for our commitment and impact.
ACE: What plans does ACE have in the future to continue its work in social responsibility?
KK: ACE’s commitment is steadfast and we will continue to increase our impact. We will continue to grow our community partnerships while supporting those we’ve grown to love. Our students and employees will continue to see ACE providing more opportunities to get engaged with our efforts.