Impact Report 2015
Letter From the Founder
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
– Cersei Lannister
Compass(x) Strategy was born out of a desire to redefine success in business beyond just “win or die.” Founder Nancy Goldstein spent the bulk of her career in traditional consumer packaged goods companies and brand strategy consulting firms. After many years of climbing the corporate ladder, she grew frustrated with the notion that company and personal success came with a price – customers sold work they don’t really need, employees stretched too thin for too little money, and natural resources depleted and destroyed. She decided she could no longer build businesses based on “our stuff is better than the other guy’s stuff!” She decided her work needed to matter.
Since its founding in 2009, Compass(x) has focused on doing work that matters. And with each passing year, we learn as we grow. 2015 was no exception. First, we expanded our Pro bono Strategy Jetpack. In addition to granting $25,000 of strategy services to a worthy purposeful organization, we also conducted mini-strategy work sessions for all the finalists. Second, we launched Strategy Jumpstarts – one and two day intensive sessions for our smaller clients that can’t afford the traditional way that we deliver services. Finally, 2015 brought some team transitions that were personally hard, but forced us to rethink our goals and needs. As a result, we are more focused, more disciplined, and poised for growth over the next few years.
Below, we will lay out our accomplishments from 2015 in more detail and highlight our goals for the upcoming year. And, in typical Compass(x) fashion, we have incorporated some musical recommendations along the way. Thank you for reading our annual Impact Report and taking the time to learn a bit more about us.
Celebrating Our Milestones
(St. Vincent – Birth In Reverse)
Compass(x) Strategy is launched
We became a B Corp!
We registered as an Illinois Benefit Corporation
We moved into an official office
Transitioned contractors to full-time employees
Launched Jumpstart sessions for clients
Building A Better Business
(Queen Latifah – Just Another Day…)
Compass(x) Strategy became a Certified B Corporation in 2011 with the goal of redefining success in business. This not only meant working with clients who were striving for good but also pushing ourselves to become a more responsible firm. One of the aspects of being a B Corp that really excites us is challenging ourselves to do better every year and using the assessment to identify new areas where we can use our business as a force for good. We’re extremely proud of the progress we made this last year and excited to share our story with you.
Our 2015 B Impact Assessment Score
In 2015, we increased our score to 101 – an 18 point rise from our initial score. A significant portion of this increase came from teaming up with clients whose work helps those in need and from building philanthropy into each of our offerings. We’re extremely proud of the progress we’ve made so far but we know there’s still more we can do and we’re working on that this year!
*Median score of all businesses that have completed the B Impact Assessment
**Since not all businesses complete this section of the Impact Assessment, a median score is not available
2015 Goals Revisited
Increase number of local B Corps by 20%
The local B corp community grew by around 20% without our direct involvement in most cases. However, Compass(x) Strategy was actively engaged with some of these companies in helping them understand the value and process of becoming a B Corp.
Expand Jumpstart offering to 3 finalists who don't ultimately receive the Strategy Jetpack award
Done! Now in addition to the $25k grant, the three finalists receive a complimentary worksession to get them on their way. These sessions were so well received that we now offer one and two day Jumpstart worksessions for everyone.
Increase the number of supplier B Corps to 6
Check! We’re working with more B Corps than ever before! As a professional services firm, we found that we not only have B Corp suppliers, but we have an opportunity to build our ecosystem in other ways through partnerships on client projects.
Establish benchmarks by measuring office energy footprint
We didn’t quite meet the mark here. While we actively kept a record of our energy use throughout 2015, our usage was pretty minimal. We decided to refocus our efforts where we could have more of an impact which was through our work with organizations committed to protecting the environment.
(The Lion King – Circle of Life)
We believe business can be a force for good. We want to make sure that regardless of the work we do, that there is community benefit. To accomplish this, we built philanthropy directly into our business model.
3 Ways of Giving Back
2% For The Community
Two percent of every full fee project’s revenues are donated to a charity of our clients’ choosing through Tis Best.
Nonprofit + Purposeful Start-Up Discount
We provide up to 30% off for sustainable start-ups and organizations that would not otherwise be able to afford consulting services.
Pro Bono Purposeful Clients
This year we increased our grants to include 3 mini-worksessions in addition to our Jetpack offering. That means we now offer $34,000 worth of pro bono services to qualifying purposeful organizations.
Giving Back Through the Years
*Total value of gifts, donations, and discounts since 2012
**Includes a donation made to Tis Best in 2016 for a project completed in 2015
Pie chart value represents types of giving back based on our clients from each year.
Propelling The Game-Changers
(Madness – One Step Beyond)
After its formal launch in 2014, our pro bono Strategy Jetpack service celebrated its second year with an amazing pool of applicants. The winner of our second annual Strategy Jetpack grant is the nonprofit organization, New Moms. Based in Chicago, New Moms serves young women aged 13-24 and their children by helping them break through the cycle of poverty through a comprehensive array of services.
In tackling this multifaceted issue, New Moms takes a multi-generational approach, addressing the needs of both the mother and child. From offering a safe place for the mother and child to live to on-the-job training, New Moms’ services made them uniquely successful in helping others. However, the organization was struggling to clearly communicate what they do and how they help. Learn how Compass(x) worked with New Moms to strengthen and refocus their messaging through our Strategy Jetpack.
Strategy Jumpstart Workshops
Born from our Love of Amazing Jetpack Finalists
After we launched our pro bono Strategy Jetpack service in 2014 we quickly realized how difficult the decision of choosing a winner from our list of finalists was. While the $25,000 grant was awarded to one organization, our goal for 2015 was to expand our pro bono offerings to all finalists in the form of two-hour work sessions with their leadership team. After conducting these for our finalists last year, we realized the value that these shorter, intensive sessions can have, especially for our smaller clients who cannot yet afford our traditional services. Meet: Strategy Jumpstart, a series of one and two day workshops that gives growing companies access to strategic consulting and practical tools to move their business forward.
(The Beatles – With a Little Help from My Friends)
At Compass(x) Strategy, we seek to align our purchasing decisions with values of our company that’s why we’ve developed a policy that gives preference to organizations with sustainable business practices.
Since most of our relatively limited purchases as a professional services firm have a narrow to non-existent field of B Corp options, we wanted to expand this measurement to include everyone in the Compass(x) ‘ecosystem’. With a growing number of projects where we either partnered with another company or recommended them to our client, we believe that measuring the practices of our entire ecosystem better reflects our commitment to working with companies using business as a force for good.
Compass(x) Strategy’s Supplier and Partner Breakdown
*Percentages will not add up to 100% as some clients satisfied 2 or more categories
Sustaining Our Planet
(tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain)
Protecting the environment is something all businesses should do, not just the ones with factories or complex operations. As a professional services firm, there are two meaningful ways through which we can have an impact on the environment.
The first is the impact of the team commuting to and from work. This year, we continued to track our transit usage in order to make mindful decisions about our commute. This paid off – with a significant increase in our use of public transit and walks to work – hurray!
How We Commute to Work
(Car, Carpool, Cab, Telecommute)
Creating a Sustainable Planet Through Our Work
The second is through the work we do. In 2015, we worked with two clients to strengthen their brand messaging and increase their ability to create a more sustainable planet. In reflecting at our goal of being environmentally responsible last year, we’re excited to share a snapshot of our work with Ceres and NEWHAB.
As an organization dedicated to thinking big about a sustainable global economy, Ceres works tirelessly behind the scenes with companies, investors and key economic players to accomplish just that. Founded in 1989 after one of the largest oil spills in the US, Ceres has been working with businesses and investors to adopt sustainable practices and create a more sustainable economy.
Ceres had grown substantially in the 25 years since their inception and with that growth came fragmentation of programs, audiences, and messaging. Compass(x) worked with them to understand and communicate the value that they brought to their numerous stakeholder groups.
For those living in affordable housing, the high cost of energy can be a significant financial burden. With gaps in insulation, older appliances and poor water conservation practices, many families living in affordable buildings are unable to afford their energy consumption.
Sparking change in this environment requires the meeting of many minds, including leaders from affordable housing, energy efficiency, social justice and social finance organizations. This is NEWHAB’s expertise. As a national network of nonprofits in these specific areas, NEWHAB brings together leaders in order to amplify and strengthen their collective voices and tackle the complex problems that each group could not do alone.
As an intricate network of organizations that are tackling complex issues, the work done by NEWHAB is difficult to communicate. Compass(x) worked with NEWHAB to establish a purpose statement that brought clarity to their project focus, their communication efforts and their relationships with other organizations.
Inspiring Minds, Having Fun
(Beck – Where It’s At)
We are a team of passionate brand strategists who focus on what really matters. What makes us so good at building better brands are the values that guide our work (and play).
There’s a whole world out there and good ideas can come from anywhere. Let’s learn some stuff.
We deal with complex issues and no one has all the answers. Let’s work together to bring out the best possible solutions.
We give our time, our money, and our expertise to make the world around us just a little bit brighter.
Do What is Right
For our clients, for each other and for the greater good. Believe that the pie is big enough for everyone – more pie is good!
Have Some Fun!
Do we need to explain this one? Work hard, but mix in some music, some conversation and a bit of random goofiness.
Where We Work
Working at Compass(x) Strategy means being collaborative, open and honest, with just a dash of goofy. In searching for an official office space in 2014, we wanted to find a spot where we could do all these things and have room to grow. With a little digging around and some serious furniture assembly skills, we now have a space to call our own.
Our office reflects some of the things that matter most to Compass(x). Located next to the train line and dangerously close to some solid lunch options, the inside space balances our love of doing great work while having fun.
At Compass(x), honest, open, transparent feedback is integrated into how we run our company, make our decisions, and move forward on projects. From our full team postmortems at the end of every project to transparency on financial performance, our meetings are structured to ensure that every voice is heard so that we can continuously improve our work.
We believe in bringing your whole self to work. Our passions, viewpoints, and quirks seep into the work we do and how we do it. From incorporating our love of pop culture into our work (including our blog) to our wickedly diverse Spotify playlist, you’ll find our team’s personality in everything we do. With a full day’s worth of paid time off each quarter to volunteer, we get to use our passions and skills to work with organizations close to our heart.
Dan at the annual B Corp volunteer day cleaning the beach
“Play On Chicago is a nonprofit that advocates Chicago-built games and developers to increase local revenue and job growth through research, marketing and events for the Chicago video game development community.
It was a fantastic opportunity to utilize the professional skills I had honed at Compass(x) Strategy, and apply them to pro bono work for an organization that was working in an area I was (and am) very passionate about.”
– Dan, former Compass(x) Marketing Manager
Mapping Our Future
(David Bowie – Changes)
As we look ahead to what we want to accomplish in 2016 we’re shifting our focus to the stuff that matter most to us and backing it up with a solid game plan.