To B or Not to B…
What is a B Corp?
In simple terms, B Corp is to businesses what Fair Trade is to coffee. It’s a commitment to rigorous standards and practices. It’s a responsibility to take into account the interests of our team, our clients, the communities we serve and the environment, in addition to our shareholders. It’s about business as a force for good.
Why become a B Corp?
Giving back, working with purpose and creating a great culture have been a part of our DNA since we opened our doors in 2001. When we found out about the B Corp movement, we were inspired to learn how to do even better from B Lab and other like-minded businesses (validating the work we were already doing was a bonus). We wanted to get on board right away.
When we started seriously working on becoming a B Corp in 2011, we were about a third of our current size. We were a close-knit team that volunteered together as a team building exercise. We offered free services to non-profits that needed a Web presence or marketing boost through our $100K/year corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. Our co-founders, David Billson, Shawn Adamsson, and Josh Dow, were active board members and community energizers. The clients we worked with were making a real difference in the world, from supporting food security in London, Ontario to changing the mental health conversation across Canada.
We were excited about the prospect of joining an impressive roster of of businesses like Hootsuite, Kickstarter, Patagonia, Bullfrog Power and PeaceWorks Technology Solutions (just down the road from us in Waterloo). Of course, being B Corp is about more than just joining a community of like-minded people doing great work that makes a difference (though that is a big part of it). It’s the real deal, and as we started our impact assessment, we realized that a lot of things we were already doing were a great start… and we had some work to do and decisions to make before we were really ready to submit.
What have we changed?
Since starting our impact assessment, we have made quite a few changes for the better. Some changes are procedural things, which sound boring on the surface, but are a big part of our commitment to doing business for good and supporting the people who make our work possible. We have created new policies and a single space to share them. We have created an advisory board to make sure we are considering a broad set of perspectives and stakeholders in our strategic planning, decision making and policy development. The board meets quarterly and includes our team (David Billson, Rachel Berdan, Derek Martin), and respected members of our community (Pillar Nonprofit Network’s Michelle Baldwin, Chantelle Diachina from Prana Yoga & Wellness, and Jennifer Kirkham).
Some other changes we’re proud of include offering flexible work arrangements, making our workplace pet friendly, offering yoga and meditation classes through Prana Yoga and Wellness (founded by one of our distinguished alumni, Chantelle Diachina), moved to an award-winning office space that has helped elevate the importance of heritage within the community and serve as a community gathering space, and worked with our local caterer (Edgar and Joe’s, a social enterprise) to reduce waste by going in on reusable catering supplies.
We plan to keep improving, and learning from other B Corps along the way. We will keep telling our story and championing the B Corp movement until it is the way people do business. We will continue to live out our manifesto and create work that makes a difference for our clients and our community.