Our team at JB Media Group is embarking on a journey—a big, important adventure—to attain B Corp certification. Since we believe that transparency = accountability, we’re going public with this intention. Becoming a certified Benefit Corporation will ensure we are living our values and continue to make thoughtful decisions as we grow.  

What’s a B Corp and Why Are Becoming One?

As B Lab puts it: B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

In many ways we are already living the B Corp life as a company, but by electing to pursue and then uphold the specific standards of certification, we are solidifying our commitment to doing what’s right for our team, our community, and our planet. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s who we are.

“That’s great. When do you think you’ll be certified?” is the question I usually hear when sharing that we’re on the path for B Corp certification. And here’s my honest answer: “I don’t know.”  

While there are many ways to achieve the magic 80 points necessary to submit for certification, the standards are rigorous. And they should be. This shouldn’t be a walk in park. It should take commitment, time, and effort to achieve the most well-known certification for businesses committed to doing good. Some companies are able to achieve certification in just a few months; for others it takes well over a year. We’ve started the journey, we’ve committed to it and we’ll continue to make improvements to our policies, benefits, decision making, and processes to improve the lives of our employees and those in our community. Yes, we’ll gain points in the B Impact Assessment along the way and that’s great. But at the end of the day it’s about being a company that makes a bigger and more positive contribution to the world year after year after year.

Our Journey To B Corp Certification

So what have we done so far? We’ve completed our initial assessment to see where we stand and find out the areas where we need to improve. With over a hundred questions that require information on policies, finances, suppliers, and employers, it’s quite the endeavor. It’s an important starting point, though, because knowing where you are is a big  part of knowing where you’re going. As a result of the assessment, we’ve already made some changes. So far, we’ve:

  • Started tracking our volunteer hours—the time we give as part of company community service projects and the time we contribute as individuals. We’ve been giving back to the Asheville community collectively and as a team, but we hadn’t been tracking it. Next we’ll set a goal for our collective volunteer hours for 2018 and track against it. We’ll do more company volunteer projects together next year as a result and that alone is a great outcome from the process of pursuing B Corp certification.
  • Crafted a final mission statement (no small feat for a team of wordsmiths).
  • Revisited our company values and now have six core values that truly resonate with who we are.
  • Expanded our team handbook and written a dozen policies on everything from office recycling to supporting employees who breastfeed.
  • Instituted a quarterly financial update to all employees to increase transparency.
  • Begun tracking which of our suppliers are local, minority owned, and B Corp certified.
  • Started exploring what additional benefits we can offer employees in 2018.

A recent team volunteer activity, cleaning a nearby stream.

We’re still in the early stages with a lot of points to gain, but we’re already a better company from pursuing B Corp certification. And that’s the whole point. As the person responsible for this not-so-small project, I have a hell of a lot of work ahead of me. At times it’s daunting—I won’t lie. And while I’m leading this initiative, getting certified will take everyone at JB Media to be on-board and contributing in ways large and small. And they are—enthusiastically!

For example, we had to commit as a company to track and report our individual volunteer hours. This couldn’t be just some of us. For this to work, we all have to do it. Once we committed, we had to figure out how to track various activities across a dozen or more people, build the tools needed, and ask the team to enter their hours. While I’m leading our B Corp certification journey, I didn’t do any of those things. A small group stepped up to tackle it and they knocked it out of the park in just a few weeks.

Source: B Lab

How else are my amazing colleagues supporting our B Corp certification process? Team members are editing policies as I write them (not their most thrilling assignment, I promise you), researching team volunteer opportunities, paying attention and asking questions at quarterly financial updates (even while they admit that numbers aren’t their thing), they are cheering me on as I announce updates, sending me articles on how other companies achieve certification, asking how they can help and being patient when I say, “I don’t know yet.” And our Founder Justin Belleme is giving me the time I need to dive into this work as we proceed.  From everything we’ve read and everyone we’ve talked to this is what it takes—someone who owns the process and a tremendous amount of support across the company.

It will be special day when we can say we’re B Corp certified, but it won’t be putting that seal on our website that will make us a better company. It will be everything we implemented, crafted, and changed along the way to be a better employer and corporate citizen. If you’ve traveled this path already and have ideas to share, we’d love to hear from you. If going on this crazy adventure with us appeals to you, keep an eye on our open positions page!  We love to work with those who are just as committed to making a positive impact as we are.

Images sourced from B Lab