May 20, 2020

How Every Company Can Make a Difference and Be a Force for Good

Jennifer Kongs Post Author

Since the Certified B Corporation community started in 2008, its reach and influence have grown as more people around the globe demand that business act on our world’s biggest challenges. Now a community of more than 3,200 for-profit companies in 150 industries and 71 countries around the world, B Corps meet verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability and demonstrate daily that business can be a force for good.

Curious to learn more about what sets B Corps apart from other businesses? Consider these statements:

Keep reading to learn 7 ways B Corps are making a difference while remaking the typical business mold. The examples below share how companies are shifting their everyday operations — to consider people and planet as well as profit — while changing the world through their choices.

Measure and Manage with the B Impact Assessment

Measurement is a key way for businesses to track their performance, but B Corps need a broader performance gauge. That’s why they turn to the B Impact Assessment (BIA), a unique tool that provides measurement and management while gauging the social and environmental performance of a company through a comprehensive stakeholder-based view.

The BIA has two primary objectives for companies: to differentiate their performance and to help them identify and take concrete actions for improvement. With its stakeholder-based view, BIA questions are designed based on research and examples that can inform what practices and policies are actually most likely to produce positive outcomes for workers, community, environment, and customers, as well as best practices regarding governance.

“The B Impact Assessment, and the ripple effect it creates as companies influence each other, inspires everyone to raise the bar on their impact strategies.”

— RaeJean Wilson, senior executive vice president at GloryBee

Tackle Global Challenges Through the SDG Action Manager

Another way that B Corps lead is by tackling some of the world’s biggest problems — outlined by United Nations member-states in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals — through business model transformations and a collective call to action. As a newly launched online resource, the SDG Action Manager assists in both of these areas through tools and direction to help businesses make progress on the SDGs in the next decade. It acts as a complement to the B Impact Assessment by giving companies a focused look at their performance on individual SDGs.

“Insights from B Lab and the UN Global Compact showed that while awareness of the SDGs among companies was high, they lacked the tools and direction to get started and take action. And while there are tools in the market that help companies report on their SDG contributions and how-to guides for specific practices connected to the SDGs, the SDG Action Manager fills an important gap by offering an interactive management solution that provides a 360-degree view and path to improvement.”

— B Lab SDG Program Manager Laura Velez Villa

Governance Serves as a Strong Foundation

To create change and build a more inclusive economy, it can be important to go back to basics and consider how companies are structured, who owns them, and who has access to information. That’s why this not-so-exciting yet oh-so-crucial business element is among the five components of the B Impact Assessment, under the governance label. Through ownership structures, mission-aligned benefit corporation governance, and transparent practices, B Corps can enhance their impact and provide more open, welcoming workplaces.

“I decided to double down on our B Corp values, but with some conditions. We would redesign company practices with an eye on self-care first. As a for-profit company, any impact-driven initiatives required steady revenue for success. Otherwise, the transformation wouldn’t work. Without profit, no purpose. Without margins, no mission.”

— Mightybytes CEO Tim Frick

Finding Strong Resources in the B Corp Community

When B Corps are considering a change or trying new things, they can turn to a unique resource for feedback, suggestions, and support: the community of purpose-driven businesses. In this community of B Corp peers, companies can share their struggles and successes in several ways. These include events such as the Champions Retreat, where B Corp leaders gather to learn and look forward; groups like the B Local place-based communities, which organize daylong B Corp Leadership Development conferences; and the B Hive, an online B Corp network.

“Use your influence and your muscle as a business, and us as a community of B Corps. Your customers want it, your employees want it, and the world needs it. Our community has a unique opportunity to lead this conversation together. It’s not only possible, it’s needed.”

— Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario

Creating Ripples of Impact

By creating and testing innovative business practices, B Corps serve as examples for other businesses, which can adopt these practices and shape them for their purposes. These innovations include an Open Hiring model at Greyston Bakery, which bypasses background checks, resumes, and interviews and hires bakers, no questions asked. The Income Advance program founded at Rhino Foods eases financial concerns for workers by providing small-dollar, short-term emergency loans that are repaid through payroll deductions (which later can be used as savings accounts). And through its social justice mission, Ben & Jerry’s champions causes including climate justice, racial and criminal justice, democracy and fair trade, while challenging the status quo — and serving up some tasty ice cream and other frozen treats.

“It’s one thing to hang a sign on the wall saying, ‘Our employees are our most valuable asset’; it’s another to prove it by supporting them with innovative solutions.”

— Rhino Foods CEO Ted Castle

Connecting Work with Purpose

The №1 reason people choose one job over another? Culture and connection to purpose, according to a Futurestep survey. The best and brightest workers are demanding high-quality, purpose-driven jobs — and B Corps are well-positioned to connect with them via B Work, the world’s largest impact job site. B Work connects employers with workers most aligned with their company’s mission, which boosts employee retention and participation as well as the company’s bottom line.

“Everyone knows that someone who deeply cares is more productive, more engaged — those are the kinds of employees that you want to hire. (B Work) is a way to help purpose-driven candidates put their best foot forward and get recognized for how valuable they are.”

— Edwin Jansen, head of corporate development at the Ian Martin Group

Leading Through Environmental Innovation

To shift to a renewable energy future, B Corps are taking the lead toward a sustainable planet. These include energy providers such as Rising Sun Chile, a solar energy business installing solar panels across Chile and educating the public on the benefits of solar, and GreenSpark Solar, a renewable energy company providing clean, locally generated energy to New York customers. In the United Kingdom, COOK — maker of homestyle frozen meals — switched to 100% renewable energy in 2017 in a vote for a more sustainable energy system.

“We recognise that buying green electricity is a good first step but not the silver bullet. At the moment we’re working with a community energy co-op to explore whether a project involving solar panels on the roof of our new kitchen is feasible and looking for more ways to use energy more efficiently.”

— Andy Stephens, head of sustainable food at COOK


This post was originally published on BtheChange.com. B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab. 

Leadership / Social Entrepreneurship
Join the SOCAP Newsletter!