by Frances Dietrich-O'Connor, Human Environment Consultant at Shared Value Solutions Ltd.
I am happy to say that Shared Value Solutions Ltd. (SVS) is well on the way to becoming a certified BCorp. I must admit that, in the past, I was quite skeptical of programs that provide certification to demonstrate the positive social or environmental achievements of a company. As an outsider, this type of certification can appear to provide a rosy story without necessarily causing significant positive impacts.
Over the past few months I have been closely involved in helping SVS to attain BCorp certification and I can honestly say that the process has changed this company for the better. Before actively pursuing BCorp, SVS was already diligent about incorporating social and environmental values into the work that we do. As we say in our value proposition:
“We believe shared value is real. We believe that uncovering opportunities to create shared value meets real needs, and can improve lives in tangible and intangible ways…We strive to continuously extend the reach of our shared value outcomes - beyond the artificial boundaries of processes or programs - to create benefits that matter and make sense for our community and private sector clients.”
Pursuing BCorp certification has helped us to be more intentional about these goals by setting targets and sticking to them. The road to BCorp has also helped us to have conversations about the internal workings of SVS and to develop a community/office contract. But perhaps more meaningfully it has led us to have a frank and open discussion within SVS about what “doing good” means to us.
Here are just a few examples of the things we have achieved through this process.
- Made a legally binding social and environmental commitment by including in our articles of incorporation the BCorp statement, which includes the commitment to consider the interests of not just the corporation's shareholders, but its "employees, suppliers, creditors and consumers, as well as the government and the environment (the "Stakeholders"), and the community and society in which the corporation operates, to inform their decisions."
- Developed a social and environmental mission including measurable indicators to track our progress on these missions
- Made a decision to provide full time staff with six paid days of community service days per year to help work toward the achievement of SVS's social and environmental mission
- Written and finalized our local and ethical purchasing strategy
- Working to monitor our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions with help from Walker Environmental Group and set reduction targets (travel, community office operations, manufacturing facilities, shipping)
- Created a central location for battery collection and recycling
Curious about what BCorp is?
The folks at BLab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems, define the concept like this: “Certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business. By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance, Certified B Corps are distinguishing themselves in a cluttered marketplace by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business. We hope that you are inspired, not just by our vision, but by the movement’s ability to translate ideas into action”
For more information see: http://www.bcorporation.net/.