Last week was the annual B Corporation Champions Retreat. I attended last year and found the experience mind-blowing and inspirational. So, I was extremely excited about who I would meet and what I would experience this year. I was not disappointed. Since much of what inspired me is actionable by any business, I thought I would share with you some of the highlights.
It’s Official. This is a Movement.
The B Corporation Retreat was not merely a gathering of awesome people eating and drinking together (although it was that too….). This was a meeting of the minds. 250 purpose driven business leaders getting together to discuss how we can continue to reinvent capitalism and make business a force for good. Sound lofty and delusional? Nope. With over 650 Certified B Corporations in the US, Latin America, Australia and Mongolia (!), this idea is taking hold. Profits and purpose do not need to be mutually exclusive ideas. To create a more sustainable and resilient economy, business leaders must think beyond today and this quarter. We must create businesses that work not only for the leadership, but for the employees, the community and the planet. Think about these B Corps: Patagonia, Method, Dansko and Etsy. While other companies were victims of the recession and short term thinking, these companies flourished. Makes you think they are on to something, right? Here’s another fun tidbit to consider. The national failure rate of new businesses is 32%. The failure rate of B Corps? 10%. Purpose driven businesses are better businesses. For everyone.
To Build a Better Business, You Must Measure What Matters.
What matters? You are in business, so obviously profits matter. Without financial stability, the business isn’t sustainable, but other things matter too. Research shows that businesses that take into consideration the impact of their actions on all their stakeholders actually deliver better returns for their shareholders. So, how do you know if you are doing right by your stakeholders? It is one thing to say “We value our employees,” but what does that look like? How do you know you are doing it well? If you don’t measure it, you don’t know. If you want to measure what you value, you can go to bcoporation.net and “Take the Assessment.” In this assessment, you will find questions (and resulting ideas) on all business practices from employees to suppliers to environmental. Over 7000 companies have already used this tool to assess their performance. Take the assessment. Just to see where you stand. It takes about an hour and is completely confidential, so no one will know your score. But you will. You will know where you excel and where you have room for improvement. By using the tool, you will gain specific ideas on how to improve. If you score over 80 points, you can choose to submit your score and certify your company as a B Corp, but you don’t have to do that. The important thing is that you measure what you say is important to you. Otherwise, they are merely words.
Benefit Corporation Legislation is Coming to Illinois!
On August 2, 2012 Governor Quinn signed Benefit Corporation legislation into law, allowing companies to incorporate as a Benefit Corporation (vs. an S or C Corp). This legislation provides the framework for a company to legally consider the impact decisions will have on not only the bottom line but also society and the environment. This differs from current corporate structures, which legally restrict the focus of the company to maximizing shareholder value. Illinois joins ten other states in pioneering innovative business models to re-ignite our economy. Compass(x) Strategy intends to take advantage of this opportunity to bring more transparency, more accountability and more positive societal impact back to business. If you are interested in learning more, B Lab (the non-profit behind B Corporations) and local B Corporations will be hosting two information sessions on October 18. Or, feel free to check out benefitcorp.net for more info.
Of course, if you have any questions or interest in the B Corp assessment, certification or legislation, feel free contact us. As you can tell, we are extremely passionate about making a business a force for good. We would love to chat with you about it.
B the Change.