I work for a company that wants to earn a solid B; in fact that’s why I chose to work here.
In 2019, I was a student at the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) studying business when 3D Planeta co-founders Norm Couturier and Tom Batty came in to give a presentation about their very new high tech start-up.
And while the technology was very cool (still is), what made me sit up and notice was when they started talking about their values and their desire to earn B Corporation certification.
As it happened, I had just finished a research project on business ethics and through it I had learned about the B Corp movement, which was started in the United States over a decade ago and is now present in countries all over the world.
Now, here were two local entrepreneurs talking about the movement in my classroom; of course I applied to do my internship with them.
One of my first assignments? Help 3D Planeta earn its B Corp certification.
It has been an interesting journey.
The B Corp certification is, as Tom describes it, like ISO 9000 for ethical behaviour. I was surprised by how deep the questions go into understanding how the company works and the choices we make.
It’s all about how the company operates and the certification process acts as a guide for company leaders to make some very specific choices about how they will engage with employees, customers, suppliers, the environment and the larger community.
For instance, the questions about our supply chain really made us think. Tom and Norm have always had a very strong commitment to buy local but that relates mainly to supplies and services for our office. None of us had ever really thought about where or how we were sourcing vendors for our core business – software development – nor had we thought much about where our local vendors were sourcing their materials.
Because the B Corp assessment asked us, we now ask our suppliers and vendors. The process is helping us be more purposeful in all aspects of our business, including taking out the trash. Our building doesn’t have a recycling program, but we do.
I remember my first day walking into the kitchen and there were three bins to separate our garbage. Every week we take turns dropping it off at the recycling depot on our way home. The next step will be introducing a composting program (maybe in partnership with a local school’s environmental program or club) and Tom and Norm, tech guys to the core, are already dreaming of working with our landlord to install solar panels on the roof.
All of this counts towards our B Corp certification.
It’s all about living our values as a Triple P company, a business that is dedicated to people, planet and profit equally.
It was the questions about people that were particularly eye-opening for me. We did well on that section but I learned that things we take for granted as a high tech company are actually quite special. We have supplementary health care, we pay all our employees a living wage and we are actively working to diversify our office.
That last part reveals the deeper issues within the tech sector and the lack of young women choosing it as a career path. If we hope to improve our B Corp diversity score, Tom and Norm know we will have to work with community partners to change the current situation. While they have always been compelled to act, the B Corp assessment is a great positive motivator.
So are Tom and Norm. The push to become a B Corp began with them and that is very important. As I’ve learned, purpose and values must be actively supported by the management team. That’s how it takes root and becomes the company culture.
That’s how you not only earn your B, but are committed to keeping it.
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