It’s been just over a year since we became a Certified B Corp. This optional, third-party certification holds for-profit companies to verified high standards of accountability, transparency, and social and environmental performance. B Corp certification has inspired us, challenged us, and brought some unexpected rewards. Here’s a summary of some of our company changes and wins as a result of B Corp certification. If you’re considering certification, this list might give you some insight on what your company can gain. Looking for information or support on B Corp certification? Check out B Local Asheville + WNC.
What We’ve Done
Rolled out our employee review process. We spent months collaboratively developing a values-based review system that includes peer feedback, self-assessment, and leadership feedback. We do them every six months with a mid-point check-in. They are time intensive, but as the company HR person, I can say they are well worth the time and effort. Everyone in the company has a personalized work plan now. Even the Founder, Justin Belleme. Even me, as the head of HR. Yup, we go through the review process just like everyone else.
Coordinated more community service as a team. Some of these volunteer experiences have involved all of us; some smaller groups—and we’re OK with that. One of our values is balance and we recognize that there are times when not all team members can step away from their work or their lives to participate. In the last year, we’ve found, planned, and shared more opportunities to give back together. From sorting cans and cucumbers at a food bank to cleaning and sanitizing a local primary school, we’ve made a point to lend a hand in our community. Through the process of giving to others, we’ve gained some fun and funny experiences along the way.
Increased financial knowledge. During our certification process, we began increasing financial transparency. To better help the team understand the financial information being shared, we added financial education to our professional development offerings. We’ve done some of this in-house but also brought in a local financial advisor for an education session with the team about personal finances. This is an ongoing process to support our team’s individual financial health, and a way for them to better understand and contribute to the company’s financial sustainability.
Supported others on the B Corp path. We helped found B Local Asheville + WNC whose mission is to grow the number of Certified B Corps in the region. Members of our team have contributed their time and talents to help this group get off the ground and present educational events on certification as well as mentor companies engaged in the process.
Added more fun. The team at JB Media works hard for our clients. We haven’t always done a good job of celebrating successes or making time to cut loose together. The certification process brought us closer together, provided clarify on what our values look like in action, and seems to have given us permission to be more of ourselves. Pro tip: If you want to help a group predominantly composed of introverts be social, give them Slack, install the Hey Taco! app, and allow them to add custom emojis. It’s magic.
Banned plastic bags. We’re not big on hard and fast rules at JB Media. It’s just not how we do things. But we did ban plastic bags for office purchases and provided reusable bags available for anyone to use. It was the right thing to do and I expect we will make other decisions like this in the future to reduce our impact on the environment.
What We’ve Gained
It’s one thing for a company to say they live their values, treat their employees well, and care about the environment. It’s quite another to willingly hold yourself up to an international, externally verified standard of positive impact. We’re in marketing. Our job is to tell a story, generate excitement, and increase awareness. It’s natural for there to be even more skepticism for a company in our industry who says they make a difference. We want to demonstrate our commitment to our values and doing the right thing for our team, our community, and the environment. We’re getting fewer questions from potential clients who are looking to verify that we “walk the talk.” B Corp certification does that for us.
Local Community Connections
We’ve developed stronger relationships with other like-minded businesses in the Asheville area. Outside the business world, our local connections have deepened with area universities and nonprofits engaged in economic development. While we knew each other before, we are now working together in new ways to support Western North Carolina.
Becoming a Certified B Corp isn’t just about the privilege of adding the seal to your website and email signature. It’s about joining a movement and working alongside other companies who want to be a force for good. Attending the Champions Retreat provided an amazing opportunity to connect with and learn from other B Corps across the globe. We have connected with a network of like-minded B Corp HR professionals to share resources and provide support, and even joined an informal virtual meet-up of B2B B Corps (say that five times fast!).
Yes, we have gained clients because we are B Corp certified. This wasn’t our driving force for certification, though. Our work with mission-driven companies, organizations, and events like SOCAP, Ashoka, BALLE, Hyland’s Homeopathics, and Gaia Herbs, coupled with being a Certified B Corporation, says a great deal about how we approach digital marketing and who we are as a company.
Faster Sales Screening
Many of the companies and organizations asking about our services know what it means to be B Corp certified which makes it easier for them to vet us in terms of their own values. For those who don’t, we have an opportunity to educate them on certification and why we pursued it. Our values come into the conversation much faster now. We have been able to screen out those who aren’t a good match for us more quickly and honestly by referencing our B Corp status.
Stronger Hiring Filter
Talking prospective team members through why we certified and what it means to us helps them get a better idea of who we are as a company. We have also applied suggestions from our B Corp community to improve our hiring process. We’ve used our values to guide hiring for a while, but certification seems to have empowered team members involved in the selection process to be more outspoken about prospective hires and that’s a big win for our company.
The JB Media team has been proud of where we work and what we’ve built together but certification has amped our company pride for sure. Part of it seems to be that it’s now easier to explain who we are and how we’re different. We’ve gained additional language and specific examples of things we do that make a positive difference.
B Corp certification can change your company if you let it.
B Corp certification is a lot more than amassing 80 points in the B Impact Assessment. It’s a commitment to doing the right thing by all of the company’s stakeholders. Embracing the mindset of being a B Corp can do a lot for a company, its employees, and the community. We’re looking forward to seeing what our next year as a B Corp brings and to having more certified companies taking the journey with us.