I was born in 1991, so I am what most people call a millennial. I grew up knowing the world faces profound social and environmental challenges. This is not breaking news. However, as a millennial, I also grew up with the important sentiment that I, just one person, can ‘change the world.’
I studied at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada and graduated from a first-of-its kind sustainability program that took a holistic view on ‘progress.’ I became particularly interested in how responsible businesses contribute to progress and I left Dalhousie knowing that I, just one person, would change the world—by championing responsible business and believing that I deserved to work for one too!
Since graduating I have only ever worked for responsible businesses called B Corporations.
What is a B Corporation?
B Corps are just one form of responsible business.
Co-operatives are another. A commitment to employee share ownership can be another way to embed a ‘purpose beyond profit’ in the structure of an organisation. And various forms of corporate social responsibility, community engagement and even community investment can also drive responsibility in business.
A B Corporation (B Corp) is a business that has passed the rigorous B Impact Assessment (BIA). The BIA measures organisational performance in five key areas of responsible business: governance and accountability, employee treatment, environmental impact, community engagement and customer conduct. Organisations that score high enough are given a stamp of approval that stands to say, ‘This company is a responsible company.’
Why are they better places to work?
Living fruitfully. B Corps see that women can do the same jobs as men; that a black employee deserves compensation that is fair and equitable to their white counterpart; that caring about employee health is both moral and good for their business; that employees should be granted time off and encouraged to use it; and that a life exists outside work and it often doesn’t fit into a 9-5 time slot.
Living in balance. B Corps generally see that a work-life balance is important for employee health, satisfaction and productivity. That’s why they don’t expect you to live, breathe and die for their company. Ironically though, I end up wanting to do that anyway as they inherently make me want to work hard for them.
Speaking—and being heard. At the age of 25 I recognise that my voice doesn’t have years of experience behind it. Nonetheless, the B Corps I’ve worked for embrace my driven, extremely optimistic, (sometimes naïve), malleable, young perspective; they never treat it as anything less than valuable, different and equal. So, for example, even though I was a new recruit and junior member of staff, I was asked for my views on Junxion’s strategic plan and my voice was listened to when priorities were set.
Responsible businesses don’t expect you to live and breathe for the company!
Developing as a professional. B Corps have progressive approaches to employee performance reviews, established feedback mechanisms and excellent training and development opportunities that help employees to be more effective and feel more secure in their jobs. In a recent goal-setting meeting with my Managing Director, I also observed an intangible, nurturing feeling as he encouraged me to set my own goals and define my own path, as long it helped me do my job better. B Corps genuinely want you to discover what you’re good at, develop skills and enjoy your work.
Following fearless leaders. B Corps tend to be led by leaders who want to instill their fearlessness in the generations that follow. Working for B Corps has meant I’ve learned from courageous and aligned leaders who are keen to mentor and prepared to guide me where I’ve only imagined I could go. It’s an opportunity that should not be passed up.
Seeking humility. B Corps know they aren’t 100% good; they own it and they strive to be better. They might donate a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, while emitting GHGs in their production. They might hire locally, but be unable to offer health insurance to employees. Or they might have a diverse board of directors, but be unready to issue a Corporate Responsibility Report. Rather than preaching perfection, seeking humility makes B Corps better leaders.
Responsible businesses recognize the role they play to support healthy communities.
Engaging community. B Corps understand they have a larger role to play in their communities. Whether they hire locally; make greater, directed impact by giving to causes that are aligned with their business; buy from local suppliers; or engage members of the community in dialogues about their business, B Corps know that true engagement is more than an annual, short term campaign, but a vital role and responsibility. B Corps are effective, contributing corporate citizens.
Aligning with organisational culture. Just as millennials know we can leave the world better than we found it, B Corps know they can make a positive and lasting contribution by being better for their employees, communities, customers and the environment. This sense of alignment with a company, boss and role means that work often doesn’t feel like work, rather it is an extension of who you are and how you interact with the world.
B Corps clearly see how they can serve a greater social or environmental purpose. This purpose is nearly always their central, guiding concept. To work for a B Corp is to be meaningfully aligned with a greater sense of mission, and a deeper sense of meaning….
Every day I go into work knowing that ‘I, just one person, am changing the world’.
Shayla Meyer is a Consultant in Junxion’s London office.