Contributed by Nadine Zerbel, Marketing Manager – Western Europe
This was partly inspired by our friends at ESL, based in Switzerland, who have created a CSR self-assessment tool for language schools after putting a great deal of thought into their own sustainable development policies. For ILSC, using the tool helped us to formalize the positive actions that were happening around our group of schools, driven by individuals, and to create an overarching strategy across all of our centers.
Our Green Team organically develops, implements, evaluates and improves upon environmental initiatives. They were the driving force behind the recent Earth Month project. A series of environment-themed activities certainly helped to spread awareness of the issue among our students. For example, on Use Less Tuesdays at ILSC-Toronto, students were encouraged to bring school lunches with no waste. In Montréal students participated in two eco-themed afternoon activities and learned about Fair Trade, later visiting the Biosphere where they learned about environmental issues and science. During Lights Out Week, lights were turned off for 15 minutes each day to encourage students and staff to think about energy wastage.
One popular part of the Earth Month celebrations were the guest speakers who visited various schools and talked about how to save energy and reduce waste, as well as the importance of volunteering, exercise and the outdoors.
Sustainable development isn’t just about environmental issues and we strive to be a positive influence in our local communities. For example, our Montreal campus offers English courses for recently-arrived immigrants from all over the world, taught by CELTA trainees. The courses have helped our students to find work locally, which is one of the key stages of integrating and succeeding in a new country. In New Delhi, our Learn to Earn programs offer free English education and job skills training to young, disadvantaged Indian girls in a country that struggles with one of the highest rates of poverty in the world. The Times of India ran a piece recently about the courses, highlighting their benefits and the approach taken by ILSC.
The Green Leadership program in Vancouver, developed in partnership with ESL, is a groundbreaking course that encourages personal development along with awareness of the natural environment.
We are also active in charitable work and have two Canadian-registered charities that raise funds for, and help facilitate, the work of charities and community economic development initiatives. The work of the foundations is supported by fundraisers that we run to collect for international events such as the tsunami in Japan and Haiti earthquake among others. As an international group, we strive to be international citizens.
Within our own organization, a collaborative approach to decision making ensures that all of our team have a say in processes and policy, while students provide ideas and inspiration for curriculums.
We believe passionately in the principles of sustainable development and CSR. Through our action plan and ongoing activities, we are taking important steps in a journey that all viable businesses will eventually have to make… and we’re having fun in the process!
We have always been highly aware of the concepts of sustainable development at ILSC, but in recent years, we have taken the idea further and created a solid Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) action plan.