This is the eleventh in a weekly series of excerpts from the new 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.
Welcome to week two of the six-week, turbocharged Quick Start Guide to becoming a Certified B Corporation.
As a quick refresher, last week was focused on using the B Impact Assessment to establish a baseline of your company’s overall social and environmental performance and to create momentum before engaging others in the process. This week is focused on starting to engage others and motivating your team.
Week two : Engage your team
Time Estimate: 90 minutes
OBJECTIVE: The objective during week two is to identify coworkers who may be interested in helping you use your business as a force for good. During this week you will have a chance to get different people involved.
END RESULT: An informal working group to help you update your B Impact Report with more accurate information.
1. Set up a summit with key internal stakeholders
The first step to securing early buy-in and building project momentum is to organize a larger meeting with the key people in your company. The invite list for this meeting might include, for example, your CEO, CFO, COO, sustainability director, marketing director, human resources manager or building manager. If you are in the manufacturing or wholesale sectors, you may wish to include key individuals from the product design, sourcing, and supply chain divisions. You want the decision makers in the room to get everyone up to speed. This will help you build momentum as the project moves forward
2. Explain the objectives and benefits
Explain what you are trying to achieve, what you think success would look like, and how this project will benefit the company. For example, you could say, “There is a big opportunity to use our business as a force for good, and we need your help figuring out how to drive our company toward this vision.” It can help to tailor your presentation based on who is attending the meeting, because certain objectives, metrics of success, and benefits will appeal to particular executives. For example:
- The CEO wants to attract and retain the best talent.
- The CFO wants to attract investors and/or save money.
- Human resources wants to motivate and engage employees.
- The marketing team may want to generate press, join a national ad campaign or benefit from a trusted third-party standard.
- The sales team wants to increase consumer trust and/or create partnerships with other mission-aligned businesses.
- Operations managers want to save money through operational efficiency.
- Sustainability managers want to benchmark performance, share best practices or earn recognition.
- Everyone wants a network with high-performing peers.
3. Share the assessment process and results
Explain that you have already kick-started your company’s journey by completing a baseline and generating a preliminary score. Share what you have learned through the B Impact Report, the best practice examples and any relevant case studies. Invite a discussion about the opportunities for the company. What matters most to different individuals? What matters most to the team? What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses?
4. Identify a core project team
Although there may be a wide variety of internal stakeholders at this meeting, you should try to identify a core project team that can help you dig into the details, create an improvement plan and implement any changes. This project team may or may not include your management team. Line managers, associates, interns and even board members can be a huge support in helping to turn ideas into action.
5. Set clear next steps
Set up a meeting with your core project team. The goal of this meeting will be to start moving forward with the data collection and implementation process.
6. Start discussing the B Corp legal framework
Discuss with key board members, legal counsel, and investors why it is important to maintain the company’s mission over the long term. B Lab has compiled a great set of materials to help you answer questions that your investors or board members are likely to ask.
Ryan’s Tip: When creating a project team, choose passion over seniority. For example, a highly motivated associate can be a more effective teammate than an uninspired CFO. Although you want senior-level buy-in, this does not mean that every senior executive needs to help with project execution.
Coming next week: Week Three: Create an Action Plan
Image credit: B Lab
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.