This past Tuesday’s PDX Green Drinks was held at the offices of TriLibrium, a Portland-area CPA firm and one of dozens of area B Corporations. The “B” stands for “benefit”, and is an independently certified recognition of a company’s commitment to triple bottom line principles of people, planet, and profit, as well as a higher echelon of ethics that prevent a business from acting on profit motive alone. In several dozen States, including Oregon, additional recognition is available for companies that legally register with the State as a Benefit Company.
The format for the evening was based on our traditional Green Drinks meetups: A two-hour block of time with 30 minutes of networking, 30-45 minutes for the main speaker(s) and audience questions, and the remaining balance on more networking. For this event, we were honored to have several B Corporations in attendance and on a panel: Franklin Jones, of B-Line; Michelle Carver, of gDiapers; and Richard Rosen, of Rosen Convergence Marketing.
Left to right: Franklin Jones of B-Line; Michelle Carver of gDiapers; Richard Rosen of Rosen Covergence Marketing.
Previous Green Drinks events on B Corps have talked about the how, the cost, and the benefits. At this event, the panel addressed why a company should become a B Corporation? Panelists shared their story and perspectives on the changing economic landscape, their philosophies on ethics and business that are championed at the hearts of their businesses, and how audience members can become involved in the movement.
Michelle chatted briefly about the history of gDiapers and its connection with Australian values of ‘fair dinkum’, a phrase that more or less means truth and fairness in all that you do and with whom you connect. With the average baby rearing resulting in 5,000 used diapers, gDiapers’ flushable, and in some cases compostable diapers could have a considerable, positive impact in landfill reduction. B Corporation certification was the logical step to show their company’s values and commitment to a better way of business.
Franklin shared anecdotes from his company’s founding, and that there’s no coincidence their business starts with the letter ‘B’. Since their start, B-Line’s bicycle delivery service has upheld B Corporations’ values of ethical business and interdependence. The relationships B-Line has forged with area B Corporations has been instrumental in the company’s sustained growth. More to the point, in a city in which delivery vehicles can overwhelm the transportation grid, B-Line’s environmentally friendly and affordable alternative service is a perfect example of how something can be made better, when done as a B Corporation.
Finally, Richard shared his experiences covering dozens of years in marketing and communications. Rosen Convergence Marketing does much more than assist companies with branding and positioning. Richard has seen first-hand how economic factors are changing. Whereas from previous generations’ attitudes about price and quality, today’s Millenials are placing greater emphasis on how their dollars are spent, the businesses they will support, and whether those businesses support the values of an increasingly progressive, socially responsible, and environmentally-concerned audience. Richard’s company helps businesses understand and adapt to these changing attitudes, and one of the simplest ways his clients can achieve that is by joining the B Corporation movement.
The audience asked excellent questions, including the differences in certification (by B Lab, or an independent agency), whether non-profits can be certified (they cannot but they can still work by B Corp principles), if a company has to certify or whether they can first take the B Impact quick assessment (they can, and at no cost), and if a company can certify as a B as part of its official business launch (not really, as it takes an active business to certify, but you can certify soon after and should).
The B Corps present included: Green Mountain Energy, Canvas Host, TriLibrium CPAs, Rosen Convergence Marketing, and B-Line
Beyond my role as PDX Green Drinks’ main organizer, my own company is a B Corporation, and I serve on a B Corporation recruiting committee that formed several months ago. There are currently 50 B Corporations in Oregon. The committee’s goal is to double that figure by the end of 2015, so there are 100 certified B Corps in Oregon. Whether we get to that level or not, the amount of enthusiasm at last Tuesday’s event was inspiring. It tells me that, as I and other B Corporations have seen, the times are changing and our customers expect a higher level of ethics if they are to work with us. What better way to show the good we’re doing by not only being a B Corporation, but by acting on those values and helping our community embrace them.
If you’d like to learn more about B Corporations, email sales [at] canvashost [dot] com and we can put you in touch with some of the area B Corps. We love to talk about why we’re B’s and hope to inspire you to join our growing community. Or, you can visit B Lab’s main website, www.bcorporation.net, for complete information on certifications, a browse-able directory of B Corporations, and information on upcoming events in your community.
Finally: If you missed out on this event, we’re thinking of holding a July Westside Green Drinks focused on B Corporations, so stay tuned for details!