The B Corporation is an organization which uses a certification process for distinguishing between ‘good companies’ and ‘good marketing’. To become a member, you must meet their social and environmental standards and then amend your company’s operating documents to ‘incorporate the interests of employees, economy and the environment.’ Beginning with 81 founding corporations, the B Corporation now includes 220 companies in 54 industries with $1.1 billion in revenues. There are huge companies and there are those just beginning.
Here are three B Corporation member profiles:
TS Designs – This Burlington, North Carolina custom t-shirt printing company began in 1977 and became a supplier to big names like GAP and Nike. They lost a lot of business to Mexico after NAFTA appeared in 1993. This became an opportunity to create a new company focus and business model: “Our mission is to build a sustainable company that simultaneously looks after People, the Planet, and Profits.” Today they proudly produce t-shirts in three responsible categories: organic cotton, local Carolina cotton and recycled materials. Their website includes other initiatives including a virtual tour of their very green property which includes a vegetable garden, solar arrays, biodiesel vehicles, composters and electricity saving devices. A very cool company and a member of the B Corporation since March 2008.
Incourage – Located in Georgetown, Ontario, this company of learning and coaching consultants ‘provide sustainable solutions in the areas of leadership development, team effectiveness and organizational transition.’ Their website is specific: ‘We are not a training company that instructs people. We are a learning company that works with the wisdom already in the room.’ I especially like their description of their leadership learning process: ‘…our coaching and leadership processes distinguish between old-style leaders who motivate those that are supposed to be following the ‘leader’s’ agenda, with the modern day leader who can authentically inspire others to accomplish a shared vision. There is a big difference.’ In business since 1997 and a B Corporation member since June 2009, the company donates one percent of their revenue to the community and operates carbon-free.
Fair Trade Sports – As a B Corporation member since December 2007, this Bainbridge Island, Washington company is the first United States company to ‘launch a full line of eco-certified Fair Trade sports balls, ensuring fair wages and healthy working conditions for our adult workers. We have sports balls for soccer, football, basketball, rugby, volleyball, and more.’ As if that isn’t great enough, all profits after taxes are donated to children’s charities. It has always struck me as profoundly wrong that sports equipment bought here in North America can be made in sweat shops by kids who rarely get to play. I think this company is doing an absolutely wonderful thing.
With 220 member companies, here I’m only describing a drop in the B Corporation bucket. For inspiration and motivation, visit their website for some great reading about companies who are committed to doing business differently.