“Hello, I’m Justin, and I’m a capitalist pig.”
That’s how I introduced myself at a recent conference exploring organizational structures for good, from nonprofits, to nonprofits with earned income, to social enterprises and B Corps. I did follow up and say I’m at least a “mostly organically fed, pasture-raised” pig.
As a for profit company, the perception could be that FMYI is only in it for one thing. But in reality, we’re dedicated to the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.
We’re a collaboration software company that’s certified and registered as a B Corporation, meaning we have a legal commitment to the triple bottom line. B Corp has been on my mind lately as I’ve spoken on the topic at GoGreen and the Nonprofit Association of Oregon’s Annual Meeting, and the State of Oregon recently passed a law to allow businesses the option of registering as a Benefit Company which is what FMYI did.
The movement is growing in scope and scale. What started in 2006 as a labor of love by the co-founders of $250 million sportswear brand AND1, now encompasses over 15,000 companies who have taken the assessment survey, and over 900 certified B Corps across 29 countries and 60 industries.
Still, many haven’t heard about this “business for a better world” phenomenon. B Lab (the nonprofit behind the B Corp initiative) launched a video that gives a wonderful introduction.
So now you know about the movement. But what are the main benefits of becoming a B Corporation? Here’s why FMYI became a B Corp:
1. Assess your social and environmental impact
When I worked in Nike Corporate Responsibility, there were many large corporation tools and resources available to gauge triple bottom line impact. But for a startup like FMYI, nothing was available to quantify our CSR activities. The biggest benefit of B Corp is their assessment survey which covers governance, workers, community, environment, business models, and more. Anyone can take it — and if you get at least 80 out of 200 points, you have the option of becoming a certified B Corp.
In my opinion, it’s the best tool out there to assess your corporate practices (versus just the impact of a product such as with Energy Star or LEED). The assessment is very strong on the social side as well. Don’t think this is only an environmental sustainability-focused survey. And it’s become more and more robust over the years.
So go ahead and take the survey. You’ll come away with a checklist of items you didn’t get points for, which is useful for ideas to increase your triple bottom line impact. As we know, it’s all about continuous improvement. A marathon, not a sprint!
2. Communicate your commitment clearly
There’s a lot of noise out there when it comes to ways you can declare your corporate responsibility commitment. Some of them are purely qualitative ways of communicating your commitment, many attempt to quantify some aspects of your practices, while others are outright greenwashing. The best way to communicate clearly is to leverage a standard out there.
A major benefit of becoming a certified B Corporation is you can use the B Corp logo in your communications to indicate your triple bottom line commitment. This mark has growing brand equity in it that signifies the process you’ve gone through to certify your overall corporate practices. You can link to the B Impact Report that’s automatically generated once you go through the assessment and register as a B Corp (you can see FMYI’s).
This becomes a good starting point for your corporate responsibility reporting, whether it’s ongoing blog posts detailing your activities, summary pages about your people and planet commitment with more details, or full blown CSR reports. And you can potentially take the additional step of registering your B Corp in 20 U.S. States.
3. Grow your business
We’re driven by a desire to continually grow our triple bottom line impact. And profit is a powerful tool to increase your societal impact. By becoming a B Corp, you gain access to a bevy of discounts (including an FMYI discount), opportunities to participate in collaborative ad campaigns, partner with and learn from mission-aligned businesses, attract and engage talent, and find impact investing funders. As the B Corp movement has scaled up, we’ve been increasingly taking advantages of these benefits, which has helped fuel our own growth, with 2013 being our best year yet.
I hope this blog post was helpful – feel free to post questions below or reach out to me. I’m like a pig in, well, you know what when talking about B Corps!
And don’t worry, I won’t be doing any more comic relief cameos in future B Corp hip hop videos (serious props to Aaron James for writing, composing, and performing this rap):