B Corps & B Curious Attendees at the BLD Ontario Conference
Recently a few of us at rTraction took a road trip to Guelph to join in the first BLD (B Corp Leadership Development) conference in Ontario. The conference included great speakers, a chance to learn from other certified B Corporations, an after party for mingling, and some great swag! It was also open to those who are “B Curious” and want to know more about what becoming a B Corp entails in a welcoming environment where there are many informed participants and speakers to learn from.
Diverse Keynote Speakers
The diversity of B Corp organizations was obvious from the conference’s keynote speakers. Larry Sault of Anwaatin discussed Indigenous stewardship and how stewardship is an integral component to being a B Corp. Petra Kassun-Mutch of Eve-Volution, talked about her experience leaving the corporate world to start up an artisanal cheese business in the most sustainable way possible. Both speakers noted the transitions and experiential learning they encountered along the way, highlighting the fact that being a business with a force for good takes time, patience, and continuous learning.
Supply Chain Decisions
A panel series on the topic of supply chain included the following speakers:
The discussion included the experiences these B Corps have had in expanding their supply chain options. As these companies outlined in their discussion, using business as a “force for good” can mean choosing to align with suppliers that are already onboard with your values, or it can mean creating further change by influencing suppliers to start changing their practices to come further in line.
Shifting from solely finding “force for good” companies can create challenges for the business that wants to be the Best for the World. Weighing all aspects of supply chain options can help in decision making. As businesses grow it can be harder to ensure that every supplier and production aspect encompasses the force for good ideology. One approach that can help is looking at the bigger picture and the overall good delivered by the company’s products and services, placing less emphasis on smaller, less significant areas that may not be the best focus for the company at the time.
Communicating the Inclusivity of B Corps
One of our own team members, Rachel Berdan, facilitated a group discussion in the “How to be Inclusive Without Being Intrusive” breakout session. Groups were given topics to discuss their own experiences, challenges and advice regarding how to talk about inclusion within your organization, outside of your organization and how to measure these metrics.
Looking at B Corps from within, organizations have successfully created change by focusing on what they’re passionate about and assigning accountabilities that align with those passions to ensure the team is moving the needle. Some of the biggest challenges are HR factors, from shifting the attitudes of hiring managers to writing and distributing job postings in a more inclusive way to open internal conversations and language reviews to providing benefits for part-time employees and understanding what constitutes a living wage.
Talking about B Corps outside of the organization can happen in different ways such as networking opportunities, a brief summary in job postings and community involvement and volunteer opportunities.
On the measurement side, finding ways to move the needle on the various B Corp metrics takes work. Where your company wants to focus may or may not align with where you naturally stand out in the B Corp assessment metrics. Continually monitoring and making improvements can help your company achieve the goal of being re-certified and hopefully achieving a higher score each time.
Seeing the expansion of the B Corp movement across Canada and the world is a positive sign that many organizations believe in the similar values of using business as a force for good. The social and economic issues that some of the B Corps are helping to solve were inspiring and innovative.
Although not all companies with similar visions are certified B Corporations, there is the opportunity for them to discover if it would be worthwhile for their organization. Attending the conference was a great way to keep the B Corp momentum going in our own company and find ways to reach out, mentor and partner with organizations outside of this community!