On October 5th, I attended the B Lab organization’s B Inspired event at Massey Hall and the event certainly lived up to its name. I was so moved that I had to write to our members, and make sure they knew how their actions were contributing to a sustainable economy and a brighter future for the people within their scope of influence.
The half-day event featured stories of the journeys of B Certified companies like Prana Health Foods, the Business Development Bank of Canada, and Animikii Indigenous Technologies. Prana shared their story of bringing the world together through food, and urged other companies to think about “why do you do what you do, and how are you doing it.” This company has grown to be a large North American distributor of health foods while staying true to their mantra and remembering “what the world needs.” After performing a life cycle assessment of their products, they found that despite being committed to organic and GMO-free practices, they had a large environmental impact from agriculture. In order to understand it, the owners hired consultants to take over their roles while they went on sabbatical to visit the farms where their inputs were made, to discover how they can work together with farmers to go from degrading lands to regenerating lands.
The event also gave the point of view of employees working at B Certified Corporations. These testimonials became very emotional as the employees shared the profound impact on their lives from working for companies who care. A young man from Jericho, Vermont told the story of his company’s (Rhino Foods) Income Advance Program, which provides a loan of up to $1000 to employees which is repaid through payroll deductions. He had taken advantage of this loan opportunity when an unexpected bill threatened his livelihood. Not only was he able to avoid going into debt or making trade-offs that could affect his quality of life, the loan helped rebuild his credit, which he attributes to helping him secure a car loan later on. According to Rhino Foods, “For the employee the program reduces stress, improves credit, and increases savings. The return for the company is reduced absenteeism, higher morale and a more focused employee.”
Next came the story of a mother of three from south Chicago, who worked for People against Dirty where she was placed through a temp agency. She beamed about being able to spend more time with her kids thanks to planned production breaks every winter and summer. She also was empowered to volunteer in her community, providing care and companionship to seniors which is something she enjoys doing, but would not be able to without paid volunteer days. She claimed to love going to work every day in the LEED Platinum facility, with its natural light and green power. She also had gone from having no marketable skills, to becoming a lead production manager at the plant. On a larger scale, her company is attracting other businesses to the industrial area. The once abandoned factories are now valuable properties generating many jobs in her community. Thanks to these kinds of initiatives, People Against Dirty reports an >80% employee satisfaction rate.
Whether you are pursuing B Lab Certification or not, taking the B Lab Impact Assessment measures what matters most to your business. It tests your adherence to your mission and values, and illuminates opportunities to strengthen that relationship. It uncovers and celebrates the efforts your company is taking beyond business as usual. Companies who have used the B Lab Impact Assessment to score their business (like Sustainable Hamilton Burlington members Wonderfloat, Zip Signs, and McMaster Innovation Park,) are learning how to create high quality jobs and strengthen communities, and they prosper as a result. According to that young man from Vermont, when people have satisfied lives outside work, they bring that in. When they are satisfied at work, they bring that home. With this perspective, businesses are seen as a force for good in the community.
Are you inspired yet?
- by Kim Gutt