This thesis asks us to continue working to improve the lives of those we may not know and cannot see, and to do so with unrelenting compassion.The final paragraph in the acknowledgment section of my capstone, written in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
I’ve always been interested in the ways that people can try to make good in society- my capstone is a reflection of one method that piqued my interest throughout my time at Lewis & Clark. If corporations are responsible for a lot of harm in the world, what can I do to improve their impact. Writing this thesis allowed me to dive deep into one aspect of imbedding responsibility in the market. Through this, I was able to better inform my own understanding of the impacts of voluntary certifications and corporate responsibility. My findings show that certifications and CSR (for B Corp, at least) address responsibility in a targeted manner- enough to claim responsibility, but not a version of responsibility necessarily directed at what some consider the most impactful sectors. The average score of re-certifying B Corps declined in the environment and worker sections, but increased within governance and community. This information will allow me to be critical of the environments that I work in and not get lulled out of the reality of the impacts various efforts have.
Besides the content, my capstone provided me with seemingly endless networking opportunities and entrance into the community of B Corps advocates, who are a group of wonderfully caring individuals. Additionally, I had not conducted quantitate data analysis since sophomore year, and this refreshed my skills and instilled more confidence in my ability to make meaning out of numbers as appropriate for a given dataset and a given question.
Finishing my capstone in the context of COVID-19 also provided me with a new intention. I wrote an unplanned Preface about the uncertainty of our world, in hopes that readers would reflect on the privilege many of us have in living in relatively (or seemingly) certain times. With that privilege we ought to work towards change for a better economic system for all.
I hope to use this capstone as an example of my long-held interest in business responsibility. I think it is sometimes too easy for Lewis & Clark students to discount the incredible work they have completed. I am very excited to hear the results of my classmates and the ways they plan to continue investigating the themes of their capstone in the future.