When Thinkshift became a Certified B Corporation eight years ago, we were happy to support this path-breaking certification, and we knew it would be important for our business. But we had no idea it would become such a big part of our identity.
We launched our firm with the mission of expanding sustainable enterprises’ market share just a year after the first B Corporations debuted. B Corp is the only certification that considers the practices and products of the entire company in light of rigorous social and environmental standards. As soon as we found out about it, we knew it was for us.
We were certified in 2010. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done. We knew we were joining a community of business leaders motivated by the power of business to be a force for good, but we were surprised to be swept up in a movement.
We took another big step in January 2012, becoming one of the first California benefit corporations—and mobbing the California Secretary of State’s office with a crowd of our B friends to file our paperwork. (B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies B Corps, is the catalyst behind the movement to establish the benefit corporation as a legal corporate form. So far, 34 states plus Washington, D.C., have passed benefit corporation legislation.)
We have a genuinely supportive community
Being in the vanguard of a new approach to business is energizing. Our B Corp colleagues—here in the San Francisco Bay Area, across the country and around the world—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, Patagonia, Kickstarter, King Arthur Flour, Method, Seventh Generation, Plum Organics, Allbirds and others—as well as the midsize and small businesses.
It’s hard to describe the B Corp experience without sounding corny, but this really is a tight, supportive community that favors cooperation and collaboration. The Bay Area is an especially vibrant place to be a B: there are nearly 200 B Corps here, B Lab has an outpost at Impact Hub SF, and the community holds regular events as well as an annual leadership development conference.
We do business better
Being a B Corp requires a discipline and commitment to sustainable business practices that we might not have had on our own. For instance, we have, and follow, a written environmental policy, and we’re zealous about choosing B Corp and local vendors. With each B Impact Assessment—companies are recertified every two years—we see areas to work on. It gets a little self-competitive, as we always want to improve. Last year we were honored to be one of the Best for the World companies, scoring in the top 10 percent of all B Corps in the governance category.
B Corp participants also learn and grow as people and as business leaders. For instance, last year B Lab launched an inclusion and diversity challenge, asking B Corps to set goals, work on them and report back. And at the national leadership conference, called the Champions Retreat, we see what others are doing and get new ideas.
Clients, employees and vendors love it
Being a B Corp is several points in our favor for clients, employees, partners and vendors: it’s verifiable proof that we mean what we say about sustainability. With fellow B Corps, we find common ground right away, and trust comes readily between us. That’s a greater benefit than ever, because the B Corp brand is rising. Today there are nearly 2,800 Certified B Corps in 60 countries, compared with just over 300 in the U.S. when we became a B Corp.
Being a B Corp lines up squarely with Thinkshift’s mission: drive sustainable business forward by helping high-impact organizations grow and expand their influence. We do that by supporting enterprises dedicated to clean technology, resource-conserving products and services, and delivering social benefits. We are proud to be in a community of businesses that share those values and hold one another accountable. It’s a movement that shows that you don’t have to care less to achieve more.