Please welcome our first guest blogger Melissa Schweyer. As well as inspiring change in her guise as the CSRtist, we are proud to count Melissa as one of our volunteers. Thank you for gracing our pages Melissa and we hope all our readers enjoy her insights into the exciting work being done by these Canadian B Corps!
In an increasingly polarized political landscape, B Corps are spearheading progress towards a more just and sustainable world. That’s because, beyond just measuring profits, B Corps measure what matters: the environment, the world and the people that inhabit it.
B Corporations live and breathe the mantra, “be the change.” They operate with a triple bottom line, prioritizing the planet, people and profits. Everything from their policies on human resources to their environmental practices get measured and tracked to form their overall B Score. And with a strong line of site and established baseline, B Corps gain a firm grasp on how well they’re managing their triple-bottom line priorities.
Furthermore, by demonstrating that corporations can prioritize the planet and people without compromising profits, B Corps show that it’s possible to build healthy economies within healthy communities, within healthy ecologies. B Corporations can undercut the false dichotomy that helps strengthen political polarization.
Currently, no jurisdiction in Canada provides legal recognition to this type of business model. But this may soon change for our friends out west.
With buzz stirring about the possibility of amendments to British Columbia’s Business Corporations Act, the province may become the first jurisdiction in Canada to provide legal recognition to benefit companies (such as B Corps). With this possibility on the horizon, it’s important to reflect on the importance of this milestone, and celebrate the impact Canadian B Corps have made on our economy, our people and our planet.
Not matter how small, large, innovative, basic or unique your company is, it can find its place within the B Corp community.
100km Foods Inc.
Take for instance 100km Foods Inc. The company is located in Toronto, distributing locally produced food from farm to chef. Taking out the stress of finding buyers and sellers, this B Corp tackles those issues for their clients, helping the local food movement grow and thrive in one of Canada’s largest urban centres.
Not only do they help get locally farmed food to local restaurants, but they create a sustainable food chain that provides fresh product at a fair price. They found a gap in the market, all the while developing a solution for a more sustainable future.
The Heritage Bee
Another B Corp that’s trailblazing the sustainable food movement is The Heritage Bee. Founders, Jeff Chalmers and Debbie Gray were used to working in large traditional industries where they were taught to maximize shareholder value. Lacking meaning and intention, they left their old careers behind and founded a business that valued more than just profits.
Working in sync with nature, The Heritage Bee makes beekeeping a possibility for anyone. Implementing a Hive Hosting program, they take care of hive delivery, set-up, maintenance and extraction. In exchange for using the land of a Hive Host, hosts receive 15% of the annual local honey yield. Beyond this, hosts create a corridor of natural, chemical free hives, helping the bee population thrive. It’s business and nature working in complete harmony.
Though The Heritage Bee offers a very unique example of how business and the environment can work in harmony, traditional industries have the opportunity to adopt similar principles. Finding ways to work in alignment with nature, instead of against it, typically leads to strengthened environmental practices.
Arguably, one of Canada’s most well-known B Corps, Hootsuite is a social media management platform, helping businesses across the world streamline the process of managing their social media networks.
With over 16 million users, Hootsuite understands that their size provides them with the power to make a large impact. With this understanding, they utilize their software, skills—and the power of social media—to give back through their philanthropy program, HootGiving. One example of this is their discount program for not-for-profits—used by organizations like WWF—enabling change-makers to get the word out about their cause, all the while, staying on budget.
Regardless of whether or not the company you own or work for is in the tech industry, there’s a good chance your company develops a product or service that could be beneficial to local charities and not-for-profits in your community. Pro-bono work shouldn’t be limited to legal firms. Think about donating your skilled-labour and products to meaningful causes and initiatives as another way to give back.
Reunion Island Coffee Roasters
Based in Oakville, Reunion Island Coffee Roasters has been a premium roaster for over 18 years. Not only do they ensure that their coffee is sourced ethically and sustainably, but they also work hard to ensure that their businesses practices here in Canada are also good for the world.
Here at home, Reunion Island Coffee Roasters sources 100% compostable cups while also offsetting energy with Bullfrogpower (Bullfrogpower also happens to be a B Corp!). Beyond local efforts, they’ve also launched a global initiative called The Farm Development Fund, where they help farmers invest in natural pest control and certifications, which are often times costly and difficult for many farmers to purchase on their own.
Does your company have a supply chain? Think about ways to ensure that your company’s supply chain is well understood, ethical and transparent.
Do you rent or own your office space? Think about offsetting with B Corp Bullfrogpower.
Public Inc. is a social impact agency, located in the heart of downtown Toronto, that creates social ad campaigns aimed at driving people into action.
Public Inc. has a robust client base, working with the likes of Starbucks, The Body Shop, Indigo, the American Association and countless others. From program implementation to helping tell the story of impact, Public Inc. is a full service agency.
Beyond helping others create impact, they also ensure that they walk the talk within their own company. Certified for over 3 years now, Public Inc. also creates its own initiatives that generate social impact, including a fair trade hockey puck they developed through crowdfunding.
Public Inc. works hard to move impact forward, but not at the expense of their staff’s wellbeing. Self-care is taken very seriously and employees are encouraged to prioritize their wellbeing. Implementing wellbeing in the workplace doesn’t necessarily entail a major renovation and the construction of a zen den or an in-house yoga studio. With that being said, encouraging mini mindfulness breaks, walks around the office and time to volunteer offsite are known as effective tactics for increasing productivity and overall wellbeing.
For businesses and individuals committed to creating a more sustainable world, the current political landscape in Ontario can be discouraging: some of the cuts and cancellations made by the incoming government will make reaching significant climate action goals more challenging, unless they are replaced by an equally robust set of investments in sustainability. With that being said, focusing on the successes of the Canadian B Corp community, alongside the potential amendment of British Columbia’s Business Corporations Act, is progress we should all feel inspired by.
Organizations and civil society organizations throughout Ontario, and Canada more broadly, are here to help. If you’re business is located in the greater Hamilton or Halton areas, I encourage you to contact Sustainable Hamilton Burlington to learn more about how your company can drive a more sustainable economy forward.