B Corporation Community

Helping business become a force for good

By Michelle Ratcliffe

Make business easy – tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber showcasing a Whistler Business innovating in their sector.

It’s commonplace for the bottom line to define business success, but there is a growing global network of over 2,000 Certified B Corporations leading a movement to redefine success. These B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. 

Whistler’s Seeds Consulting is part of this global movement and Principal, Diana Mulvey believes that a healthy profit can be achieved parallel to progress for the planet and people. 

Mulvey has built a business that takes action on social and environmental issues. Working with companies that aim to do good for humanity and for the planet, her business helps growing enterprises define the difference they are trying to make in the world and market themselves, creating an inspiring identity that stands out. 

She believes that while already sitting at an impressive height, Whistler businesses have the opportunity to elevate their impact on the world.

“Whistler’s business community could be known not only as the best IN the world, but the best FOR the world,” said Mulvey. “I’m helping mobilize business owners to be a force for good and tackle social and environmental challenges in their industry.”

Planting Seeds with Purpose

As any gardener knows, even with seeds in hand, your work still requires a little digging before you can plant and nurture growth.  Seeds Consulting’s strategy starts with digging deep to find a client’s highest mandate.

“I’ve been helping clients uncover their higher purpose and get clear on why they are in that business,” explained Mulvey who says she shares the philosophy of author and corporate culture thought leader Simon Sinek, who teaches organizations how to inspire people by starting with “Why.”

“I Share Simon Sinek’s belief that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” said Mulvey.

Once the “why” is clear, she can set sights sky high and map out the route to lift her client’s entrepreneurial ambitions to great heights. Clarity on a clients purpose empowers them to create an identity that rises above the noise, attracting the right customers and building brand loyalty.

Events Inspiring Action

Mulvey is a key fixture in the entrepreneurial community in Whistler – an inspiring group of innovative minds.

Her respected perspectives have led to collaborations with likeminded organizations and created events aimed at inspiring entrepreneurs to do good for their community.

“I’ve spoken at and introduced events in Whistler that encourage entrepreneurs to learn about and take on environmental and social problems,” she said.

In the last year alone, her hands-on help has seen her teach workshops for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Social Venture Challenge, present on “how putting employees first boosts your brand” and at the Whistler Open Forum Speaker Series and collaborate with the Business Development Bank of Canada to bring a screening of “The Millennial Dream” documentary to Whistler accompanied by empowering discussion around different kinds of success in the new economy.

Confronting the Status Quo

In addition to speaking up with new ideas entrepreneurial events, Seeds Consulting connects with and empowers with their market online. The thought leadership exemplified by Mulvey on the Seeds Consulting blog offers an inspiring a dialogue for change, contributing valuable knowledge and resources to her community.

“I’m and avid blogger,” said Mulvey. “I use this platform to share ideas, confront the status quo, introduce best practices and build the business case to tackle social and environmental problems.”

Mulvey’s leadership is being felt throughout the resort where the number of businesses who are embedding social causes into their strategy is snowballing and her impact was recognized earlier this month, with Seeds Consulting honoured as a Finalist for “Sustainability in Action Business” at the 2017 Whistler Excellence Awards. Mulvey is helping shape a thriving local economy, from inspiring startup social ventures in their infancy to helping established organizations redefine an inspired brand identity. 

“Companies that are better for workers, better for communities, and better for the environment will lead the way and raise the bar for business success beyond the bottom line”

“Companies that are better for workers, better for communities, and better for the environment will lead the way and raise the bar for business success beyond the bottom line,” said Mulvey.  “I believe Whistler business owners have an opportunity to take on social and environmental problems and be recognized around the globe as being the best for the world.”

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Doing Good Through Business

Social entrepreneurs create impact beyond the bottom line

Sharing economy, food security, social impact, community building, climate resilience – these are topics that I’ve seen trending in my network and into daily conversations. I learned from a visionary, risk-taking entrepreneur that when he heard people talk about a trend at least three times, he had to act on it. Are you an aspiring entrepreneur based in the Sea to Sky who is looking for a way to seize a trend and turn it into a business opportunity? Then attend the 2016 Social Venture Challenge kick off event in Whistler: Doing Good Through Business on Friday, March 18.

The essence of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Social Venture Challenge is to get business ideas off the ground, particularly those that provide solutions to social and environmental challenges unique to the Sea to Sky corridor. The Canadian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation describes what sets these ventures apart: “Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur focuses on creating social capital. Thus, the main aim of social entrepreneurship is to further social and environmental goals.”

Why are a growing number of entrepreneurs looking to create social ventures? There is plenty of evidence toward the shift in attitudes toward traditional, pure-capitalism based reasons for starting businesses. In the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, the most comprehensive snapshot of how Millennials engage with Corporate Social Responsibility efforts in the U.S., revealed more than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average). The research also showed that 80% of young workers want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. They also are willing to take less compensation in exchange for greater meaning in their work.

Investments for start-ups and supporting growing businesses to scale up is also shifting. With a huge spike in the amount of crowdfunding capital in North America, along with new hybrid capital organizations and social impact bonds, this trend is likely to change the playing field in favour of social ventures over the three to five years, according to social finance experts writing for the Harvard Business Review.

Social Venture Challenge 2016

In British Columbia’s Sea to Sky corridor, the Social Venture Challenge is an opportunity for social entrepreneurs to encourage, support and grow new social ventures in the region. This Friday’s session will feature talk from Vancity’s Community Foundation, the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild, Clean Start and Gibson-based Persephone Brewing Co., a Certified B-Corporation. The full day includes an Ideas Jam, Angel Den case study (where I’ll be part of a panel to help social ventures grow), plus lunch + beer tasting, and more. Tickets are still available but going fast.

Following the full-day session, budding social entrepreneurs can submit a one-page application by March 31 to participate in the 2016 Social Venture Challenge. The shortlisted entrepreneurs will learn how to flush out business ideas, get mentorship from experts in their field and receive coaching on how to pitch their venture idea to potential investors.

The final pitch in the Social Venture Challenge will be organized as a fun, fast-paced Dragons’ Den style event where participants will pitch their burgeoning business ideas to a panel of judges who will be award the winning social venture with $5,000 start up cash, courtesy of Squamish Savings. Learn more at www.whistlercentre.ca

The entrepreneur’s journey is never an easy one. Embedding a social or environmental problem in the business model is even more challenging. Being able to tell the story of that journey and how the business can make a difference in the world is often the best way to market the brand and build your tribe. Need some help packaging that story to share with the world? Contact me to get started. I love working with purpose-driven brands that are ready to build a movement.