This is the fifth in a weekly series of excerpts from the upcoming book The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the series.
By Ryan Honeyman
There are many benefits to becoming a Certified B Corp.
B Corp certification sets you apart as a thought leader, distinguishes your business in a crowded market, and helps associate your brand with some of the most socially and environmentally responsible companies on the planet.
The particular benefits that are most attractive to you will vary depending on your industry, your goals and objectives, and where you are in the life cycle of your business (e.g., whether you are seeking capital, entering a new market or planning for succession).
I was most attracted to the quality of the community.
“For me, the biggest surprise in our long association with the B Corps has been the extraordinary value of our network of fellow B Corps and B Corp executives. The quality of that network has always been remarkable, and it has tangibly improved over time. We’re proud to be part of it.” —Bryan Welch, Publisher, Ogden Publications
When I found out that Dansko, King Arthur Flour, Method and Seventh Generation were Certified B Corporations, I had no doubt that I also was going to certify my company. I had found a group of like-minded, innovative and dynamic entrepreneurs who shared my core values. I had found my “tribe.”
I will discuss each of the five reasons in detail in the following weeks. For now, here is the first reason.
Reason No. 1: Being part of a community of leaders with shared values
The incredible value of the community came as a surprise for many B Corps.
Many said that they were originally interested in becoming a Certified B Corporation in order to take advantage of the marketing benefits, to receive discounts on products and services, or to benchmark their social and environmental performance.
Almost universally, it has been the strength of the community — and the sense of being part of something bigger than an individual business — that has become the most deeply fulfilling aspect of B Corp certification.
The positivity, collaboration, excitement, innovation and pure joy of being part of a community that shares your core values and a clear sense of purpose is what inspires, motivates and energizes B Corps to use their businesses as a force for good. The B Corp community benefits from a high level of trust, a high quality of intellect and an entrepreneurial spark that is more powerful than that of any other group I have ever seen.
“I knew the certification would be valuable by itself, but I didn’t anticipate the benefits of joining this vibrant community of other leaders who are passionate about finding a new way to integrate their values with their businesses.” —Elisa Miller-Out, CEO, Singlebrook Technology
In many ways, the value of the B Corp community itself makes sense. The rigor of the B Corp certification process means that it takes serious dedication to complete — helping to filter out businesses that are not truly committed to meeting high standards of performance, accountability and transparency. The result is a passionate, highly innovative group of some of the most socially and environmentally conscious businesses on the planet.
In addition, although being part of a community with shared values is highly gratifying on an emotional and intellectual level, the networking, collaboration and partnership opportunities inherent in the B Corp community can be highly beneficial to a company’s bottom line.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, a group of local B Corps started a series of networking groups that are designed to cultivate relationships, increase collaboration, and generate business referrals for the benefit of group members and the larger B Corp community. Similar groups have formed in Illinois; Colorado; New York; North Carolina; Oregon; Southern California; and Vermont, with more forming all the time.
“We hadn’t fully grasped what an incredible support system is built into this amazing community of B Corporations. We share and benefit from each other’s wisdom and experience and networks, we brainstorm together, we build mutually beneficial partnerships in a really organic way. Every company becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a true alliance of a very passionate community.” —Merlin Clarke, Owner, Dogeared Jewels & Gifts
Stay tuned for Reason No. 2, coming next week.
Ryan Honeyman is a sustainability consultant, executive coach, keynote speaker, and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good. Ryan helps businesses save money, improve employee satisfaction, and increase brand value by helping them maximize the value of their sustainability efforts, including helping companies certify and thrive as B Corps. His clients include Ben & Jerry’s, Klean Kanteen, Nutiva, McEvoy Ranch, Opticos Design, CleanWell, Exygy, and the Filene Research Institute.
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