B the Change

A B C’s of becoming a B Corporation

Certifying businesses that take on social and environmental problems

More and more entrepreneurs are going into business and growing their enterprises with a broader focus than building shareholder returns. Instead, these purpose-driven leaders see the potential for a much broader impact, one that includes society and the environment.

Increasingly there are businesses that want to create value for all their stakeholders, not just their shareholders. These companies are competing not just to be best in the world, but best for the world.” B Lab Founder Andrew Kassoy

Certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business. Companies that achieve B Corp certification have agreed to voluntarily meet higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance. They know that they can stand out in a cluttered marketplace through their higher purpose and a shared vision that businesses can create benefits for all stakeholders; not just shareholders.

What’s driving business owners to invest in the certification process? There is growing acceptance of brands doing well by doing good. Across the globe, 75% of consumers believe it is acceptable for brands to support causes and make money at the same time (up 33% since 2008). A full 80% of consumers feel it is important for companies to share their efforts to address societal issues. Edelman goodpurpose Study

“These companies are competing not just to be best in the world, but best for the world.” B Lab Founder Andrew Kassoy Click To Tweet

How do companies earn B Corp certification

Starting with an online impact assessment, business owners can complete a questionnaire that summarizes their business as it relates to four categories: Workers, Governance, Community and the Environment.

Just the exercise of tackling 174 questions in the four categories above is time well spent by any organization. As a business grows, questions like these below can shape the future of the company:

  • What percent of non-executive, full-time employees participated in the company’s bonus plan in the last fiscal year?
  • What practices apply when evaluating the social and environmental performance of your suppliers?
  • Has your company gone through an environmental review or audit in the last 12 months?
  • Are there key performance indicators or metrics that your company tracks on at least an annual basis to determine if you are meeting or social or environmental objectives?

Some organizations may not be able to achieve the minimum 80 points required to earn the certification, but the impact assessment tool is an ideal way to focus resources toward next steps. Learn more about my journey toward certification.

A growing NETWORK with many benefits

Companies aiming for a passing grade have done the math for the business case and understand the ABCs of joining this fast-growing group of certified companies:

A – Affiliation: A B Corporation will join a community of like-minded businesses that want to change the status quo. Fellow businesses in related or complementary industries have a network of entrepreneurs they can rely on to help manage business challenges.

B – Baseline: Rather than re-inventing the framework, the impact assessment can shape a company’s commitment towards: Workers, Governance, Community and the Environment. There are ample opportunities to learn form other B Corporations on how they raised the bar in each category.

C – Credibility: Since the assessments are conducted by a third party, this helps ensure there’s no greenwashing or trying to look good with slick marketing. It is unbiased and based on a consistent approach that helps owners measure what matters and ultimately, build a better business.

About 150 businesses in Canada are currently certified, along with over 1,600 companies in 48 countries. BC-based Persephone, Salt Spring Coffee, Lunapads and Fairware are in good company with global brands like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Method. This movement is growing fast and Certified BCorps achieve brand lift from their affiliation, which also helps to attract employees, earn publicity an gain competitive advantages in their sector.

Ready to measure what matters and understand your company’s impact in the world? We work with conscious brands that are ready to “B the change”. Let’s talk about how to build and share your stories.

B Corporation Community

Why Become A Certified B Corporation?

Building a global economy that uses business as a force for good

In 2015, Seeds Consulting became a Certified B Corporation. A growing network of businesses across the globe, ‘B Corps’ are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. It’s a standard that will not only guide the company forward as it grows, it is a beacon that pulls like-minded businesses together and sends a signal to target customers that we’re serious about using business as a force for good.

‘Whistler-based Seeds Consulting is now a Certified B Corporation, joining 150 Canadian brands Click To Tweet

As a curious kid who asked lots of questions, my aunt thought I would become a lawyer as I had a deep sense of what was just and fair. At my first job, I learned that business was not always what it appeared. The delicious aromas from this bakery masked a stink from behind the scenes: the immigrant bakers, refugees from Cambodia, were told to log their extra hours on two punch cards so the owner could avoid paying them overtime. They knew it was wrong, but did not want to risk losing their jobs so they kept quiet.

As a young professional, I went to grad school to study an MBA. I continued to ask lots of questions since many of our case studies included businesses that put profits before people and the planet, though there was no good reason for trade-offs. Many of my classmates thought the course on Business Ethics was fruitless. In hindsight, it was likely added to the curriculum ahead of its time, taught as a required course pre-Enron, pre-mortgage crisis, and pre-VW scandal.

As my career advanced, I took on some challenging roles as a marketing director for some global brands. The shift toward more transparent business practices became a big part of my job, whether it was implementing new accounting standards to protect shareholders (Sarbanes Oxley), introducing new reporting tools to inform communities and stakeholders (corporate sustainability reports), or creating company values and codes of conduct to guide business practices. I am still learning to navigate the unexpected shift in power from business to the consumer, who are now using social media as a very public forum to get their questions answered.

For Conscious Businesses that want to stand out

As my consulting business grew and I was looking for a way to stand out, the B Corp Certification made a lot of sense for Seeds Consulting. Our mission is to plant ideas for positive change. We do this by advising purpose-driven leaders how to grow their business consciously. By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance, Certified B Corps are distinguishing themselves in a cluttered marketplace by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business.

B Corp Declaration of Interdependence

Together, companies that are B Corp Certified take on a Declaration of Interdependence with the following shared beliefs:
  • That we must be the change we seek in the world.
  • That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
  • That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
  • To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.

Small actions that create a ripple effect

What are some of the things that set Seeds Consulting apart to get certified?
  • We choose two wheels instead of four… except when the snow flies.
  • We’ve chosen to operate out of Whistler’s greenest community and work virtually with clients whenever possible to reduce our footprint.
  • We give back to environmental causes through our commitment to 1% for the Planet.
  • If we print, it’s on paper made of straw instead of virgin forests.
  • We volunteer in our community.
  • We aim to create value for society, not just shareholders.
  • We work with clients that aren’t afraid to take on environmental and social challenges.
Interested in joining the B Corporation movement? Connect with Seeds Consulting and learn how you can design marketing and communications strategies to grow your organization. Read our ideas, share what conscious growth means to you.
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WANT TO CREATE A MARKETING BUZZ? LINK PROFITS TO PURPOSE.

How social ventures can build a movement

According to Social Enterprise Canada, social enterprises are businesses that create positive community impacts and social value. They do not have a distribution of profits and assets to individuals or shareholders. These are companies that want to be the best for the world; businesses that have a positive impact on society or the environment, where their bottom line is a combination of financial return and a social return on investment. But how can social ventures stand out from the competition and stay relevant? With effective marketing to the right audience, they can build a movement with momentum to grow.

A wave of new entrepreneurs are creating a flood of awesome, buzz-worthy businesses. Social ventures designed around sustainable food systems, knowledge sharing, waste minimization, affordable housing and sustainable transportation which may have been niche co-operative models back in the day are now becoming mainstream.

These entrepreneurs are evolving traditional modes of capitalism where the only purpose was to make profit for shareholders. In the world of social ventures, the stakeholders might include community members, collaborative partners, cooperative suppliers, and investors; a more holistic group who all have a stake in the success of the venture.

BUILD A MOVEMENT

Entrepreneurs who create a social venture see a future where consumers can get behind a change for the better. They see evidence of a rising movement of conscious consumers. They know there is market potential and that there are like-minded consumers out there who will support a business with a cause they believe in. According to the Edelman 2015 Trust Barometer, 81% of 33,000 consumers surveyed believe that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the social conditions in the community where it operates. Further, a recent survey from CONE Communications showed that 74% of Americans want brands to explain how purchases impact the environment.

81% of 33,000 consumers surveyed believe that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the social conditions in the community where it operates

MARKET WITH A PURPOSE

Even the best ideas might have a hard time getting off the ground. Successful social ventures don’t just hide behind product features and benefits when marketing their brand; they are proud of and vocal about their higher purpose and vision for a better future. They understand how to package their story and use an emotive approach to communicate with targets, aiming to reach and build a strong tribe. HAVAS Media & Accenture conducted a survey of 30,000 people arose twenty countries in five continents and learned that a strong brand proposition linked to purpose can reach influential consumer demographics. Their study shared: “Communication is critical and should be integrated into the brand proposition to influence this high value audience: 70% of mothers say they would buy more of a specific brand if they were aware of its positive impacts.”

70% of mothers say they would buy more of a brand if they were aware of its positive impacts Click To Tweet

TARGET INFLUENCERS, BUILD ADVOCATES

An effective marketing strategy and carefully thought out plan will ensure that the right influencers are engaged and advocates are nurtured as the social venture launches and grows. To amplify marketing goals, consider the target market carefully to generate word-of-mouth promotion. A joint study conducted by BBMG & Globe Scan & SustainAbility explains further: “Driven by young, optimistic consumers in emerging markets and amplified by technology and social media’s influence, Aspirationals represent a powerful shift in sustainable consumption from obligation to desire. Aspirationals are influencers – 95% encourage others to buy from socially and environmentally responsible companies.”

95% of Aspirationals encourage others to buy from socially and enviro responsible companies. Click To Tweet

SHARE TRANSPARENTLY

The Edelman Trust Barometer also revealed that in 2015, trust across government, business, media and NGOs have all declined, evaporating the gains that had been made post recession. Social ventures have a unique obligation and opportunity to communicate openly and transparently with their customers and stakeholders. Whether the enterprise creates jobs with fair wages, diverts waste out of landfills, improves air quality or keeps chemicals out of the soil, these metrics are as important as profits and may even be more relevant to stakeholder. Being able to quantify and measure outcomes will be important to build meaningful messages that engage their community and give them something to talk about.

Could your business learn more and gain inspiration from these social ventures? Looking for ideas to implement these lessons learned to grow your business consciously? Contact Seeds Consulting to get started.