How B Corp Certification Helps Attract and Engage Employees

This is the sixth 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.

Etsy Hack DayBy Ryan Honeyman

Becoming a Certified B Corporation can help unleash the passion, initiative and imagination of employees by connecting them with the larger meaning behind their work.

Goldman Sachs found that millennials, which represent nearly 50 percent of the global workforce, “have specific needs at work that are dramatically different from previous generations. High among these [is] a desire to align personal and corporate values. To attract and retain this group, we believe that companies need to provide rewards beyond financial gain.”

“Asking ‘Why?’ and clearly identifying your purpose will attract the very best, brightest, and most passionate people to your business. That is what the B Corp movement is all about: taking a holistic, systemic approach that really upholds and supports your values every day.” — John Replogle, CEO, Seventh Generation

Research shows that millennials are not just looking for work–life balance, which means having enough time and energy to enjoy life outside of work. They are also looking for work–life integration, which means applying themselves to something that they feel passionate about, so that they can fulfill both an economic need and a need for a higher purpose. Becoming a B Corporation can help you attract, retain and engage employees around both your company’s higher purpose and the B Corp community’s collective purpose to lead a global movement to redefine success in business.

B Corp certification can help you attract top MBA students. Due to student demand, the Columbia, New York University and Yale business schools now forgive the student loans of their MBA graduates who go on to work for Certified B Corporations. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal explains that “more companies are touting the B Corp logo, a third-party seal of environmental and social credentials, to attract young job seekers who want an employer committed to both a social mission and the bottom line.”

“My biggest surprise was the social capital B Corp community membership gave me with millennials. I can barely keep up with the droves of highly qualified, passionate, values-aligned millennials who want to work for TMI. I no longer search for high-potential staff; they now come to me.” — Tiffany Jana, CEO, TMI Consulting

The B Impact Assessment can also be a useful framework to help engage your team in building a strong, mission-driven company culture. This worked beautifully at Etsy. Chad Dickerson, Etsy’s CEO, was proud when the company earned the 80 points necessary to achieve B Corp certification. Dickerson also recognized that Etsy’s certification marked the beginning, not the end, of its collective work to build a better business.

In order to further improve Etsy’s social and environmental performance, Dickerson and his executive team invited the company’s entire workforce to drop its normal workload for a B Corp Hack Day in order to brainstorm ideas to raise their score.

B Corp Hack Day produced 22 innovative ideas, such as creating a program to track the company’s carbon footprint, empowering women to take more leadership roles, improving volunteer programs with local community organizations and increasing employee access to art studios. This also led to an article in the Harvard Business Review about Etsy’s efforts.

To learn more about becoming a Certified B Corporation, visit bcorporation.net.

Image credit: Etsy

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.

To get exclusive updates and free resources that can help you learn more about B Corporations, sign up for Ryan’s monthly newsletter. You can also visit honeymanconsulting.com or follow Ryan on Twitter:@honeymanconsult.

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" (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 2014), the world’s first book on B Corporations.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 a B Corp. His clients include Ben & Jerry’s, Klean Kanteen, Nutiva, CleanWell, Exygy, and the Filene Research Institute.Honeyman Sustainability Consulting, a Certified B Corporation, was recently honored—alongside Patagonia, Seventh Generation, New Belgium Brewery, GoLite, and Method—on the 2014 B Corp “Best for the Environment List,” which recognizes businesses that have scored in the top 10% of all B Corps worldwide for positive environmental impact.Ryan has written articles for Utne Reader, TriplePundit, Sustainable Industries, and the Credit Union Times. He has also been a featured speaker at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, the Hass School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco State University, Mills College, the California College of the Arts, the Sustainable Enterprise Conference, the Marin Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, the New Sector Alliance, Nextspace, the Impact Hub Oakland, and the Impact Hub SoMa in San Francisco.Ryan holds a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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