Sandra Stewart | March 5, 2015
Statistics updated June 2015
Thinkshift launched with the mission of expanding sustainable enterprises’ market share just a year after the first B Corporations debuted—and as soon as we found out about the fledgling certification, we knew we had to be part of the movement.
We’re a Certified B Corp because B Corps are the vanguard of a new approach to business, and B Corp is the only certification that considers the practices and products of the entire company. In addition to meeting rigorous social and environmental standards, B Corps amend their governing documents to require consideration of all stakeholder interests—employees, suppliers, the community, consumers and the environment—in company decision making. (We knew B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies B Corps, was serious when they asked to see our compost and recycling bins during an audit. B Lab randomly conducts onsite reviews of 10 percent of B Corporations every year, and companies must recertify every two years, as we did this year.)
B Lab is also the catalyst behind the movement to establish the benefit corporation as a legally recognized corporate form in all 50 states. Thinkshift became a California benefit corporation on the first day it was possible in January 2012, joining a small crowd of our B friends. To see the mob in front of the Secretary of State’s office, go to B Lab’s legislation page, which also provides updates on states that have passed benefit corporation legislation—26 plus Washington, D.C., when we last looked.
What’s it like to be a B?
It’s hard to describe the B Corp experience—especially the annual retreats—without sounding incredibly corny, but this really is a tight, supportive community that favors cooperation and collaboration. The San Francisco Bay Area is an especially vibrant place to be a B: there are well over 160 B Corps in the Bay Area, B Lab has an outpost at Impact Hub SF, and we have regular networking and educational events as well as an annual leadership development conference.
B Lab staff and our B colleagues here and around the country are a continual source of inspiration. It’s just plain true that we all want each other to succeed: there’s no ego on display at gatherings and nobody takes a “what’s in it for me?” approach. That goes for the big names—Ben & Jerry’s, Dansko, King Arthur Flour, Method, Seventh Generation, Plum Organics, Etsy, Warby Parker et al.—as well as the midsize and small businesses.
Clients like proof that we do business better
Our certification guides us in being a better business: there’s always something we can do to improve. It’s a point in our favor for clients and partners who are also B Corps, and for others, it’s increasingly recognizable proof that we mean what we say about sustainability. That’s because the B Corp ranks are growing—today there are more than 1,300 Certified B Corps in 41 countries; there were just over 300 B Corps when Thinkshift was certified in 2010—and the mainstream business press is taking notice. Prominent writers at the New Yorker, the New York Times and other national publications describe B Corps as bringing a needed alternative approach to business.
Being a B Corp lines up squarely with Thinkshift’s mission: to speed the shift to sustainable business. We aim to help create a more just, sustainable world by supporting enterprises dedicated to clean technology, resource-conserving products and services, and management for social benefit. We became a B Corp not just for a stamp of approval but also to join a community of businesses that share those values and hold one another accountable to them. We remain proud to be one because the movement increasingly shows that you don’t have to care less to achieve more.