In 2008 I left the fine art world and ventured into the unknowns of advertising. A passionate storyteller from a young age, I was sure that I could create campaigns for companies who were determined to change the world. But if my clients said they were better how could they back that up? Who was keeping score? Our search for real impact and a cultivation of self-awareness with our clients led us to become a B Corp. But becoming a B Corp certified business is more difficult than I thought.
The Benefit Corporation, or B Corp movement began in the US as a safeguard for social purpose businesses. B Corps certified companies are governed by one critical policy – business must prioritize stakeholders over shareholders. This allows companies to make decisions based on what is good for communities, the environmental and their employees. B Corps are truly triple bottom line companies; people, planet and profit. This is a seismic shift in how business is done.
The B Corp certification process is not easy. Aaron Emery, The MaRS B Corp Fellow, told me bluntly when Scout & Burrow started the B Corp certification process, “If it were an easy certification it would not be meaningful.” I couldn’t agree more. The assessment is scored out of 200 points. In order to achieve B Corp status a company must meet the minimum requirement of 80 as well as recertify every two years. I was certain Scout & Burrow would breeze through the process. After all, we are founded on the belief that we can use advertising to change the world!
Using the online B Impact Assessment tools, and quite a few conversations with the folks at MaRS as well as the team at B Lab in the States, we got certified. But that was only after we failed to meet our 80 the first time. Our score crept up from 75.6… 77.3… 78.1… 79.7… until we finallyhit 83.5. But something wonderful happened. The assessment forced us to develop a deeper understanding of how we contribute to our community, our partners and the environment. We actually had to change the way we do business in order to meet the certification requirements.
Becoming a B Corp has not only changed our company but it has changed how we engage with our clients. As advertisers and social entrepreneurs we are always focused on the story behind the brand or campaign. Using the B Impact Assessment tools with our clients has created the space required to have meaningful conversations about their real, measureable impact. More importantly, it has opened the door to visioning greater impact, leading to better stories, leading to more profit. Becoming a B Corp presents a major strategic advantage for entrepreneurs from an advertising perspective as well as an operations perspective.
The B Corp movement is building momentum and 2014 looks to be the year it may just reach a tipping point. December 31, 2013 saw the certification of the 100th Canadian B Corps and interest is growing. Within days of writing this article the number of global BCorp certified companies will surpass 1000 in 32 countries. “Social Entrepreneurs see no reason to check their heart and motivation at the door because they don’t see any reason not to pursue good business. The certification lays out policies and actionable steps to create change and then they are brought into a community of like-minded entrepreneurs,” says Aaron Emery.
Our B Corp certification is about much more than numbers and policies. It is about joining a movement and throwing our hat in the ring. We are sure we can change the world. We are going to do it by helping our clients share their world changing ideas, initiatives, products or services. Becoming B Corp certified proves to the world that we are creating meaningful social impact while we make profit.
If you are interested in joining the B Corp movement please reach out to Aaron Emeryat MaRS Discovery District. If you want to learn about how to change the world through advertising Scout & Burrow is one email away.