Four UGA MBA Candidates, eight employees, and a business plan in hand. This was all we had back in January 2016 when we crafted our company vision, and it was then that we started working on our B Corp certification.
A big part of our vision centered around certifying as a B Corp (a for-profit business certified by a third-party nonprofit organization) and joining the elite ranks of Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Warby Parker as companies using business as a force for good.
Our hard work paid off in 2018 when we earned our B Corp certification. And now, almost three years later, we’re recertifying as a B Corp, which allows us to evaluate our commitment and reflect on the big picture impact this journey has had on our business.
Becoming a B Corp Helped Us Scale
In four short years, we went from eight employees to ninety. Going through the initial process of certification did two things for us. First, it exposed gaps and the next steps. These were steps included in the handbook, which would include travel policies, a code of conduct, and other HR-related items. But it also exposed opportunities and offered us insights into what type of policies were included by the best companies. So we added benefits such as 40 annual hours of paid volunteer time off, a matched 401k, and a travel policy that prioritized virtual meetings, or when necessary, renting the most fuel-efficient vehicle rather than the cheapest.
Becoming a B Corp Gave Us Mission Lock
If you’ve done as much as work for a company that experienced rapid growth as we have, you’re familiar with the wild swings of scaling a business. Every milestone you pass brings incredible trials and tribulations amongst the lingering questions. Should we hire more employees? Do we have the business to justify the payroll expenses? What does our pipeline look like? Succinctly put, it’s easy to take the first step in forming a socially responsible company. It’s another thing to remain true to that mission when you’re in the middle of it. But through everything, we remembered our commitments. We remembered our annual goals for volunteer and pro bono hours. We remembered our promise to strive towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce. And every day we remember that the B on our door means that we stand for something that we wanted, and continue to want to be.
Being a B Corp Made us Better
Our founder and fearless leader is a great guy, with a great family, that truly wanted to build a better version of the companies he had worked for. But there is no denying that being a B Corp made us better. We became more transparent, we added benefits, we welcomed feedback and made improvements based on it. And we quickly became a place where employees enjoyed working, and candidates wanted to work with.
Why We’re Recertifying
We became a better version of ourselves these past three years. Well, five if you include the original certification process. We’ve gone from 73 percent white male to 48 percent. We’ve expanded our community outreach efforts, and promoted an employee to serve as Director of Culture. The process and this certification have encouraged us to be more intentional in everything we do, and it has indeed made us better.
Our annual evaluation to develop our impact report has been instrumental in keeping us honest. We’ve developed tracking methods and built reports using Salesforce® of course, which gives us insights to set annual goals and track outcomes. Our first run at the assessment took two years. Our second run-through took us 13 hours. And the best part, our score has improved, which proves B Corp has made us better.
The bottom line on this recertification journey is, we’re stoked! We believe strongly that business should serve as a force for good in the world. We also believe that capitalism, if it’s to be sustainable, must work to serve all of its stakeholders and not just shareholders. And we are grateful to be at the front of this wave, building an amazing (and profitable) business, and encouraging others to dip their toes in the water to develop a better version of themselves.
B Corps are the bridge connecting 20th-century capitalism to 21st-century values, an opportunity to lift all stakeholders and prove that profit can be made in a manner beneficial to all. If your company is contemplating a path toward B Corp certification, Ad Victoriam is happy to answer any of your questions – we’ve been there! Reach out to us here.
How to Volunteer, Get Involved, and Support Philanthropic Work During These Uncertain Times
By now, we’ve all set up our virtual offices, stocked our fridge and pantry. We’re all also doing our small part to social distance and limit the spread of the coronavirus. With over a week of isolation in the books for most of us, we’re adjusting to our new normal. And if you’re like us, this has meant a little less 24/7 news watching and a little more searching for the good in the world. That is something that has inspired and reassured us that positivity abounds around us.
So, with nowhere to go and nothing to do, why not be a part of the positivity? Making a difference might not be as easy as it was two or three weeks ago, but it is still possible. Here are three creative ways to get involved and support your community in times of need.
1. Volunteer In Person, at a Distance
Yes, you can still volunteer in person. Healthy, symptom-free volunteers are still needed across the country. Food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters still have needy citizens to feed. And with schools closed and students who relied on free school lunches needing our help, along with a growing number of our most vulnerable members of society now needing assistance, this demand will continue to grow. Many non-profits still need volunteers to sort and distribute donations. With heightened sanitation measures and social distancing in place, you can show up and make sure everyone has food on their plate.
And if your health or living arrangements prevent you from wanting to go into public at all, consider some financial support for these organizations. While delayed, Amazon is still delivering. And if you’re homeschooling right now, what a great lesson to add to the curriculum. Sit down with your kids and fill up your Amazon cart together. Then have it delivered to your local shelter or food bank.
For some industries, work has stopped completely. But much like the food banks and shelters that we discussed above, other nonprofits still have pressing needs. And when we come out of this, they will still be the folks on the front line addressing some of our world’s most pressing needs. And you can help many of them without leaving your shiny, new remote office.
Take a look at fellow B CorpCATCHAFIRE, who offers non-profit organizations the opportunity to list their project needs and then matches them with volunteers that have the skills to tackle those needs. On the first page of opportunities alone, we saw projects that ranged from providing Excel training to helping a non-profit develop their elevator pitch. Find a project that matches your skillset and sign up. You can also check out some creative ideas from Tom Moran, CEO of Teadora, for ways to volunteer from a distance.
3. When the Dust Settles, Support the Companies & Non-Profits that Stepped Up
In addition to the need to step up now to support local businesses by ordering takeout, buying gift cards, or even ordering locally made holiday presents a bit earlier than expected, we should use this crisis to show love and appreciation to the companies and employers that are stepping up for their communities and their team. In the B Corp world, we have a slogan: Vote Every Day. So, when the dust settles, we recommend that you vote for the companies that are making a difference in your community, like some of the examples listed below.
Locally, in the Atlanta, GA, area, we have seen the amazing folks at GoodrCo partner up with State Farm and the Atlanta Hawks. They have each sponsored pop-up grocery stores to ensure everyone has food on their plate. And recently, Atlanta-based Spanx went even further, providing funding for Goodr to be able to offer grocery delivery to families in need.
In these challenging times, there are always incredible beams of light to guide our path. All of us at Ad Victoriam hope this has given you some inspiration to be your own guiding light. Volunteer in person if you can. Volunteer remotely if you can. Celebrate and support those who are leading your community efforts. And most importantly, spread positivity! If you would like to reach out to us to discuss our B Corporation commitment and initiatives, click here.
Related B Corporation Articles from Ad Victoriam Solutions:
The release of Ad Victoriam’s second annual Impact Report highlights our commitments and initiatives as a B Corp for 2019. It also marks the second anniversary of our B Corp certification and the four-year mark since we first started out along this journey. And with that, we’re taking this opportunity to share some of our achievements over the past two years, things that don’t necessarily fit into an annual Impact Report.
As we celebrate B Corp Month during this entire month, we’re compelled to echo their call to action: “Vote Every Day.” The collective action of everyone buying from, working for, and working with B Corps, our votes will be heard. And as a B Corp, we have a moral obligation to be the best company we can be: for our workers, our customers, our communities, the environment, and the movement as a whole. Here are some examples of how Ad Victoriam Voted Every Day:
We Listened to our Employees
Just about every company issues an employee survey nowadays. But how many companies truly act on the feedback they receive? Not only do we embrace a culture of open doors and proactive feedback loops, but we also take our survey very seriously. Every January at AdVic, our Director of Corporate Culture presents survey results to the executive team, with an action plan to tackle recurring concerns. We then share the survey results and strategies with the entire company.
In the 2018 survey, we received similar comments around onboarding, PTO, and communication. So, in 2019, we took action. We formalized our onboarding process and developed a curriculum to help new employees get acclimated. AdVic’s principles also reduced billability targets for new hires, giving them three weeks to get onboarded to the company and the projects they are assigned to. We also launched a new paid-time-off (PTO) policy to allow employees to redeem hours when they went above and beyond the standard 40 hour work week, giving them additional time off. And lastly, we introduced “The Weekly AdVic,” a company-wide video call that shares the previous week’s financial performance, new projects, introduces team members, and shoutouts to those deserving of one. Three simple steps to turn negative feedback into positive action, which will, in turn, further empower our employees to speak up.
“It’s not only the survey every year, but the overall open door policy around feedback that I enjoy. Everyone at AdVic knows we’re young and we’re growing…fast. And our management team listens to everyone. Every year, I see real improvements in the company based on the feedback we give them. If it wasn’t on their radar, it is now. And they take it to heart. That’s, unfortunately, incredibly rare and the main reason I love working here.” – Ricardo Diaz, Team Lead, Community Practice
And we’re still a work in progress. Our 2019 survey highlighted areas for us to focus on here in 2020, many of which are already being acted on. Standardization of processes and remote employee engagement were two common themes we’ll be focused on this year.
We Signed the Pledge
At the 2019 Champions Retreat in Los Angeles, we signed the Pledge to Build the B Economy from Within. The B Corp Pledge focuses on seven key areas we will continue to focus on in 2020:
1. Support the B Corp Community
From our original B Corp project with the Full-Time MBA program at the University of Georgia, we’ve continued to stay involved with their student-led B Corp projects. In the past 18 months, we’ve assisted on seven B Corp projects and played an integral role in the launch of the MBA program’s new Social Innovation emphasis, which requires working on a B Corp certification project.
As a result of our initial brainstorming session in the summer of 2018, B Local Georgia has grown to host quarterly networking events and provide an ecosystem of support for B Corps throughout Georgia. AdVic has sponsored several events and our own Nathan Stuck serves as Chair of the organization.
2. Speed Up the Building of An Inclusive and Sustainable Economy
In addition to our work with UGA and B Local Georgia, AdVic has also hosted a B Corp 101 Webinar and, in 2019, published a three-part webinar series on the why’s and how’s of B Corp certification.
3. Truly Use Business as a Force for Good
Each year, our consultants utilize their knowledge and expertise to make an impact on the nonprofit community. They assist deserving organizations with Salesforce implementations and support. In 2019, we put our skills to work with the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens, an organization that helps families facing homelessness, and Camp Dream, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that runs camps for children with disabilities. In total, our in-kind consulting donations totaled $189,760 in 2019, up from $85,290 in 2018. And we’ve already kicked off a project with VMWare to work on Project Hope, which will focus on mentoring and guiding first-generation Hispanic students from middle school all the way through college graduation.
Another area of focus in 2020 will be increased employee participation in our Volunteer Time Off program. In 2019, 21 employees took advantage of this benefit, doing everything from road cleanups to field-trip chaperoning. Our goal for 2020 is to have every employee use at least some portion of their VTO.
4. Share Knowledge with Our Fellow B Corps
Through our continued involvement with B Local Georgia and B Lab, we’ll continue to assist existing B Corps and anyone else with interest in the B Corp movement.
5. Align Our Purchases with Our Values
2019 also marked the finish of our office remodel. Every dollar we spent was analyzed and on top of installing motion-activated lights, sinks, and paper towel dispensers, everything from the glass whiteboards to the carpets to the soundproofing was some version of renewable, recycled, and certified.
7. Promoting B Corps to Our Employees and Networks
Here at AdVic, we think it’s important for us to share our B Corp journey. Our desire to be a little bit better every single day. And we hope it inspires others to take the Business Impact Assessment. But most importantly, we appreciate the sacrifices and effort by our fellow B Corps, and the inspiration they give us to be better corporate citizens. Last year, we published our Sustainable Gift Giving Guide, promoting other B Corp businesses during the holiday season. We also featured several B Corps in our blog, 13 Free Ways to Give Back.
We’re Committed to Being Better
Here are the areas AdVic has concentrated on to meet our goal of being better:
Comparison of Demographics Change Over the Past Two Years
AdVic understands that a diverse workforce creates better output and solutions for our clients. So, at the end of 2017, we were taken aback that, on the eve of our B Corp certification, our company was 73.5 percent caucasian males and only 28 percent female. Talk about fitting an IT stereotype, right? So we looked at ourselves in the mirror and put talk into actions. Since this time, we’ve not only changed how we recruit, but we’ve rewritten our job descriptions to encourage more women and underrepresented minorities to apply.
And as a result, we’ve completely transformed our company. By the end of 2019, we were 32 percent female and only 48 percent white male. Our employees were also now 27 percent underrepresented minorities, compared with 12.9 percent in 2017.
Re-Wording a Job Description
In the fall of 2018, we attended our first career fair at The University of Georgia. In total, we received 55 resumes, eight of them were from women. While our first Elevate class was still very diverse, we are appalled at the lack of female diversity. So, we did what we should have done in the first place: We asked our female employees to read our job description. To say we received a unanimous thumbs down would be an understatement. So, we rewrote it. And by our next class, we had hired our first female member of Elevate. After adding another female in our Winter Class of 2020, we are now preparing for our biggest Elevate class yet, with 10 incoming recruits. Seven of those ten? You guessed it, they’re women.
We Are Baking Into Our DNA
Alerted by 2018 survey feedback, there was a glaring lack of awareness and passion around B Corps and our “why.” To raise awareness, we’ve taken several steps (borrowed from other B Corps). For starters, we launched an internal B Corp steering committee in 2018, a diverse group of employees empowered to represent all stakeholders in the decisions we make. We also introduced an onboarding session around our B Corp status. Meant to inform our new hires about our mission, we include it with the overall benefits section to share our “why” with everyone that joins our team.
In 2020, the Ad Victoriam team will continue to build on what is now almost four years of momentum. We’ll spend a good bit of the year working on our recertification, ensuring we remain a part of this amazing community. We’ll also be on campus at UGA, working with student teams helping business owners achieve certification. And we’ll be at B Local events, connecting like-minded business leaders and explaining how impactful it has been. Most importantly, we’ll continue to be out in our community, being the change we want to see in the world. We invite you to follow us on our journey, or better yet, lead the way at your own company and commit to becoming a certified B Corporation in 2020.
Holiday shopping at big box stores typically begins before the Thanksgiving leftovers get cold. Last year, holiday gift-giving shoppers spent $9.9 billion on Thanksgiving and Black Friday alone, and another $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday, according to Shopify.
With holiday spending increasing every year, we are also seeing an increase in conscious consumerism where people are choosing products that are also good for the environment and communities. In an article featured in VOX, the authors referenced a Nielsen study that projects the sustainable product industry being worth over $150 billion by 2021. In fact, sales have risen by 20 percent in just four years.
And when markets grow and consumers follow, companies aren’t far behind. That can lead to some major confusion for shoppers, as everyone seems to be marketing their items with generic, benevolent-sounding claims like “sustainable” or “green” or “earth-friendly.” What do any of these terms mean and how does the average shopper know what’s what?
Help is on the Way
In an attempt to break through the greenwashing, Ad Victoriam is excited to release our 2019 Shopper’s Guide of products and services sold by certified B Corps. B Corps are for-profit businesses that undergo a rigorous assessment. They are graded on their environmental impact, community involvement, supply-chain, worker relations, and governance. Audited and certified by the non-profit B Lab, these companies meet the highest standards of corporate social responsibility.
Ad Victoriam is proud to be a B Corp. We make it a priority to buy products for our business and our personal lives that come from other B Corps. Here are a few of our favorite brands and some of their products on our list this holiday season:
Divine Chocolates: Divine started back in the 90s as one of the first cocoa-producing co-ops in Ghana. Certified as a B Corp since 2016, this female-owned chocolate company contains deliciously rich Fairtrade cocoa, no palm oil, and no GMOs. Our holiday tip is Divine’s Advent Calendar Variety Pack that includes (3) Milk Chocolate and (3) Dark Chocolate Calendars.
French Broad Chocolates: Started by Dan and Jael Rattigan in the mid-2000s, French Broad, based in Asheville, NC, offers everything from bonbons to brownies, with ingredients sourced locally around the fertile Appalachian valley. Take our word and order The Pick Me Up Bundle, featuring six brownies, two dark chocolate bars, and two packages of their delicious chocolate-covered coffee beans.
Lancaster Stroopie Company: One of AdVic’s favorite source for employee treats, this amazing business makes and sells traditional Dutch Stroopwaffeln. And who doesn’t want a caramel-filled cinnamon waffle cookie dipped in chocolate? The best part of this business is that they are female-owned and hire female refugees new to the United States. Trust us and order someone on your list the 12 count Stroopie Gift Tin.
Cafe Campesino: A trailblazer and founding member of Cooperative Coffees, an organization committed to fair trading relationships between farmers and roasters, Cafe Campesino offers wonderful coffee from all over the world, lifting up their trading partners and their local communities. We recommend ordering the Single Origin Sampler, which includes (4) 4 oz. bags of coffees from Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, & Honduras.
Thrive Organic Farmers: Thrive, whose slogan is You Drink, Farmers Thrive, buys their coffee direct from farmers. Through their nonprofit foundation, ThriveWorx, they also give back to these local communities, empowering their farmers to tackle the tough economic, social, and environmental challenges facing them and their communities. Trust us and order Thrive’s delicious Horizon Organic blend. Organically grown in Guatemala, this medium blend is fruity with hints of toasted cereal and chocolate.
Your Amazon Alternatives
DoneGood: All brands on this shopping website pay fair wages and use eco-friendly practices. They also allow you to search for brands that “do good” on other issues you may believe in, like upcycled goods or products from female or minority-owned businesses. Check out this gift-set of three locally produced, all-natural, and non-toxic soap bars made by fellow B Corp, Meliora.
Uncommon Goods: After visiting a craft show in 1999, founder Dave Bolotsky was inspired to connect makers and their unique creations with customers looking for unique products. One item on our shopping list is the Gather and Grow gift set that includes pine-scented soy candle, a wooden pinecone ornament, and everything you need to grow next year’s Christmas tree!
Clothing & Apparel
Patagonia: Known throughout the world for their jackets and outdoor gear, this leading B Corp made its first Black Friday splash in 2011 when they ran their infamous Don’t Buy this Jacket ad in the New York Times, encouraging consumers to buy only what they need. We’ll stick with this theme and recommend the Patagonia Business Library, a set of books that includes Let my People go Surfing, The Responsible Company, and Tools for Grassroots Activists.
Cotopaxi: With a motto as simple as “Do Good,” Cotopaxi leads by example in everything they do, producing their products in Fair Trade certified facilities and donating one percent of all profits to their charitable foundation that aims to eradicate poverty. For the active traveler on your list, we suggest their ALLPA Travel Pack from their Del Dia collection, made completely from scrap fabric left over from previous production runs!
Bombas Socks: What’s not to love about Bombas, who donates a pair of socks for every pair sold. Like their slogan says, these are the most comfortable socks you’ll ever own. But don’t take it from us, buy some for yourself. Help unleash someone’s inner child this holiday season and send them a pair from their Sesame Street collection.
Athleta: One of Gap’s successful B Corp brands (along with Bath and Body Works), Athleta believes in selling sustainable products that allow women to pursue an active lifestyle and unleash the #powerofshe. Check out their Top 10 gift ideas online or at one of their brick and mortar locations across the country.
Toms Shoes: While we’re wearing and giving away comfortable socks, let’s cover them up with some amazing B Corp shoes. In fact, Toms has already donated 60 million shoes to children around the world. And for the Star Wars enthusiast in your life, look no further than Toms Star Wars collection because let’s be honest, who doesn’t need leather Darth Vader loafers in their life? Bedding
Leesa: 2019 Best for the World: Community honoree, Leesa donates a mattress to a shelter for every mattress sold, focusing on shelters that serve children and teenagers. If you’re shopping for a new mattress this year, take a look at their Legend series, a hypoallergenic mattress made with organic cotton and merino wool and recycled materials.
Green Avocado: Currently a member of one-percent for the Planet and going through B Corp certification process, Green Avocado started five years ago out of a need to break through the greenwashing to find a mattress that was truly non-toxic, and green, and all-natural. They can sell you everything from comfortable mattresses to the bed frame it sits on and the sheets that go on top of it.
Taos Ski Valley: Looking to surprise the family with the gift of a ski trip this winter? Look no further than Ski Taos. The first certified B Corp ski resort, they can handle everything from your accommodations to your lift passes. So grab your board and hit the slopes, sustainably.
Legacy Vacation Resorts: Further up the Rocky Mountains, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, lies another B Corp resort to base your ski trip from. And if the snow isn’t your thing (or you’re trying to escape it for a few days), head to beautiful Florida, where Legacy has four different properties to choose from. Check out their specials here.
Badger Balm: A family-owned business in its second generation, Badger carefully sources every aspect of their product line, which offers everything from organic lip palms to all-natural bug repellents. Our pick is Badger’s Sore Muscle Soothing Gift Set, a combination of Ginger Deep Tissue Massage Oil, Sore Muscle Rub, and Sore Joint Rub.
BeautyCounter: A company that has a “Never List” of over 1,500 ingredients they will never use in their makeups, BeautyCounter believes that “beauty should be good for you.” Find holiday gifts for her and him on their website.
Ethique: With a goal of reducing the more than 80 million shampoo and conditioner bottles disposed of every year, Ethique makes soap-like bars of shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, and you guessed it, soap. New Zealand’s highest-scoring B Corp bars are plastic-free, plant-based, cruelty-free and sustainable. They offer six different holiday gift bundles for under $29.
New Belgium Brewing: What’s not to love about a company that is 100 percent employee-owned, awards an anniversary bike to every employee after one year, and has been a sustainability leader in the brewing industry for over two decades? Oh, and they brew great beer! With locations in Fort Collins, CO and Asheville, NC, New Belgium are definitely worth supporting. Pick up a winter variety “Folly Pack” on the way to your next soiree and be the hit of the party!
Fetzer Vineyards: Celebrating 50 years of making great wines in Mendocino County, Fetzer has publicly reported their greenhouse gas emissions since 2005, treats their own process water, and is proud to be the first TRUE Zero Waste winery in the country. While you pick up that 12 pack of New Belgium, grab a bottle of their Valley Oaks Sweet Rosé for the non-beer drinkers on your list.
A to Z Wineworks: If Oregon wines are more your thing, A to Z offers an incredible selection of wines and was founded on the principle of “business should be conducted as if people and places matter.” From this five-time Best for the World honoree, let us recommend a bottle of 2016 The Essence of Oregon Pinot Noir, a blend selected to offer a darker profile perfect for those cold winter months.
Ad Victoriam loves being a B Corp. It is an integral part of our DNA and is a part of every decision we make as a business, but our mission continues.
From the customers we do business with to the suppliers we purchase from, and the benefits we offer, our status as a Certified B Corp serves as a mission lock for ensuring our purpose continues to guide us as we grow.
Measuring Our Mission’s Impact
At the end of 2018, we published our first Annual Impact Report (download it here). This was an end of year recap of the internal B Corp-driven KPIs we had set for ourselves. Fun things were included, too. Things like new female and/or underrepresented minority-owned vendors, and our volunteers of the year. The report also included our performance on everything from volunteer and pro bono hours to our diversity efforts in our workforce and hiring initiatives.
Our Inclusive Economy Challenge
As we were preparing to publish that first Impact Report, we were also completing our first year as a B Corp. We were now eligible to participate in B Lab’s (the non-profit that certifies B Corps) Inclusive Economy Challenge.
The IEC, as it is known, is designed to motivate companies to make further improvements in their pursuit of EDI (equality, diversity, and inclusion). Participating B Corps must set and accomplish at least three improvement goals in the EDI portion of the assessment. And our focus was clear, improve on our inclusive recruitment and hiring process, specifically by addressing two pressing needs we recognized in the challenge:
The company actively recruits through organizations or services that are designed for individuals from underrepresented populations.
The company conducts an analysis of job description language and job requirements to confirm or improve diversity, equity, and inclusion
AdVic Debuts the ‘Elevate’ Program
At the beginning of 2019, AdVic launched our new Elevate program. The first class of our new program was designed to teach all things Salesforce and consulting skills. It was comprised of three freshly minted graduates from the University of Georgia. After this experience, however, one thing was obvious, we didn’t attract any females. Of the resumes we collected, 47 of 55 were male. Of our first round interviews, 14 of 16 were male. We knew we could do better than that.
When we performed the post-mortem of our first undergraduate recruitment program, we knew we could do better. The IEC gave us the perfect opportunity to pilot solutions for recruiting a more diverse candidate pool. Using the two goals mentioned above, we honed in. AdVic reached out to Women in Technology’s UGA chapter to speak to them about careers in technology as a female, wife, and mom. We also rewrote our job posting to be more female-friendly. Research shows that “men apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications.” However, “women apply only if they meet 100 percent of them.”
‘Elevate’ Produces Positive Results
So far, the results of our Elevate program have been astounding. Our final round two interviews were made up of seven males and seven females. We extended offers to two females and three males and hired our first female member of Elevate. Since then, we have extended offers to our third and fourth Elevate class, made up of four females and three males.
It makes us proud to announce that we have successfully completed our first Inclusive Economy Challenge. We didn’t just check a box, we walked the walk. 2019 saw two females promoted to AdVic VP’s, and two females promoted to management positions. That represented 40 percent of internal promotions this year.
The Mission Continues
While we’re pleased with our progress, we know we can still have a lot to do – our mission continues. We have an ambitious goal to have a workforce that is 50 percent female and 30 percent URM (Unrepresented Minority) by 2025 and we have work to do. If we have learned one thing since becoming a B Corp, it is that the work is never done. There are always improvements to be made and areas to improve on, but it doesn’t stop us from taking a minute to celebrate our successful 2019 and completion of our first Inclusive Economy Challenge.
In the first installment of this series, we focused on the reasons why you should consider pursuing B Corp certification for your company. From raising capital to attracting new clients and employees, this gold standard of Corporate Social Responsibility accreditations offers a wealth of benefits. But now it’s time for the difficult part, taking the assessment and reaching the needed 80 points. We’re here to alleviate any concerns you have and provide you with a roadmap for success.
In an article written by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, the publishers of Ryan Honeyman’s B Corp Handbook (and the newly released 2nd Edition) discuss the author’s five-step approach. We’ve amended this tried and true process to include one extra (and FREE) step that can make the process much more manageable.
Establish a Baseline by Taking the B Corp Assessment
This first step is a simple one. Go here and take the assessment (BIA). Fill out some basic information about your company to get started and then complete the different sections. The BIA is broken up into five different sections: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. Complete each section and it will give you your score. If you have 80 points, skip the rest of these steps and move ahead to the next installment in this series. If you are like the rest of us who scored less than 80, that’s OK. Keep reading and we’ll help get you over the hump.
Engage Your Team
In your first go-around, you may not have had all the answers at your ready disposal. For example, you might have a facility manager or a controller that has all of your energy and water bills. Or you might need your procurement manager to investigate the diversity and locations of your major suppliers. Organize all the information you need in a central place (we recommend a Google Sheet to allow real-time collaboration) and delegate tasks to your team. Once you receive everything back, update your assessment and receive your new score.
Added Step: Recruit Free Help from a Local College or University
Running a business isn’t a part-time job. And we realize there is a multitude of things that can rank higher on your priority totem pole than your B Corp certification. Lucky for you, colleges and universities across the country have created concentrations, certificates, and programs that require a B Corp project to successfully complete. In the southeast alone, NC State University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Florida facilitate B Corp projects each semester.
At Ad Victoriam, we worked with MBA students from the University of Georgia to do a lot of the heavy lifting. The students helped write our employee handbook and identify some of the low- and mid-hanging fruit to help get us closer to the needed 80 points. They were then able to identify other potential opportunities and provided us with a cost/benefit analysis for each item so we could make our own decision based on what was best for our business. We highly recommend utilizing a university-run program to help you achieve your B Corp certification.
With your team engaged and your students ready to help, it’s time to create a plan. If you are working with a university, they will have a roadmap and plan they can adapt to your company. If you don’t have the luxury of student help, there is a simple three-step approach we recommend:
Identify low-hanging fruit: Go through the assessment and identify items that require as little as a tweak to your employee policy handbook. For example, enacting a policy that requires employees to rent hybrid vehicles when traveling for business, or encouraging remote meetings work to reduce your carbon footprint. Start with these and then we can get out the step ladder to reach higher.
Identify mid-hanging fruit: These are the pieces that require a little more thought and effort. This would include things like implementing a volunteer time off policy or writing a supplier screening questionnaire.
Make a go/no-go decision on the most difficult pieces: Quite intuitively, a large chunk of points are available on the more difficult questions. For us, there were some major decisions that had to be made with regard to cost (time, effort, and/or money) and benefit (recruiting and/or retaining employees). Beyond the reasons already mentioned for working with a university program, this part of the process is where they can really help.
Implement Your Plan
Using your plan as an outline, start building out the documentation (e.g. handbook, policies, etc) and enacting the changes (e.g. rolling out your new policies to team members, picking a 401k provider, etc.). Once again, the students can be a big help in this part of the process as they can do a lot of the heavy lifting. But there are also a ton of other resources available to you, like those provided by B Lab or from the B Corps in your region (get connected here).
You’ll notice as you take the assessment that questions can be marked for later review or as a future goal. Even after you hit the 80 point threshold, continue to use the assessment as a tool to improve your company.
Following these simple steps will get you well on your way to certification. When you hit snags and roadblocks, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Whether you get assistance from university students or from a local B Corp (or both), you’ll find that this community is generous with their time and eager to help.
It’s 2019 and times have changed in the business world. More and more every day, becoming the gold standard of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is taking on a bigger role in C-Suite conversations.
No longer does the economic philosophy of Milton Friedman, to serve fiscal shareholders above all else, dominate the landscape. Customers and employees are demanding that the corporate world serve all stakeholders, including their employees, communities, and the environment. The number of companies listening is increasing. They have begun incorporating CSR initiatives into their day-to-day business operations. But with everyone doing it, how can you make your company stand out and work towards becoming a “gold standard of CSR?”
B Corps are for-profit businesses that have a proven (and certified) commitment to serving all stakeholders. They use business as a force for good, ensuring fair pay and benefits to a diverse and inclusive workforce. They also promise to be good stewards of the environment. That means they are actively serving in their communities, and believing purpose and profit can harmoniously coexist.
However, the process isn’t easy, but as the saying goes, if it was then everyone would be doing it. But it is worth going after. In the first of our three-part series, we’re focusing on five reasons your business should consider B Corp certification.
1. The Gold Standard of CSR: A True Differentiator
In a workforce and consumer base increasingly dominated by millennials, people are demanding more than just profit from the companies they buy from and work for. Consumers and potential employees are more likely to sniff out blatant “greenwashing.” Defined by Investopedia, “greenwashing” is “an attempt to capitalize on the growing demand for products that are environmentally sound.” Meaning “they are more natural, healthier, free of chemicals, recyclable, or less wasteful of natural resources.”
But with B Corps, the research and investigation into the legitimacy of a company’s claims have already been performed. After the company completes the B Impact Assessment (BIA), on which a company must score 80 out of a possible 200 points, B Lab, the nonprofit accreditation body that certifies B Corps, performs an audit of a company. The handbook and its policies are reviewed, numbers are verified, and many times, an on-site audit is performed. Succinctly put, B Corp certification is to for-profit business as Fair-Trade is to coffee or certified organic is to milk. The B logo is seen as a stamp of legitimacy on your CSR efforts.
2. Raising Capital
An often overlooked feature of B Corp certification is the ability to seek out investments in your business. According to Forbes, “The Global Impact Investing Network’s most recent estimate for the minimum size of the impact investment market doubled to $228 billion in assets under management, up from $114 billion in 2017.” More and more investors are looking to diversify their portfolios beyond industry. They want to include companies with environmental and social goals, following global standards like the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
As investors scramble to find investment opportunities that align with their personal values, “B Corps may attract capital better than non-b-businesses,” according to an article in Fast Company. In the article, Abi Barnes, the author of “An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Going B,” published by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, alluded to the B Corps’ ability to differentiate themselves to attract these investments. He stated that “in an era of ‘greenwashing’ and misleading labels, certified B Corporations and benefit corporations help consumers identify trustworthy companies.”
One of the biggest benefits of B Corp certification for a growing company is the ability to lock in your mission. When Ad Victoriam Solutions went through the assessment, we only had eight employees. We had to implement a lot of new policies and practices. More importantly, we had to envision what we wanted our company to look like as it grew. Fast forward three years and we have almost 70 employees and our vision is our reality. The mission and purpose are now baked into the DNA of our organization.
When we make strategic decisions, our status as a B Corp influences our direction. Whether it is how we recruit employees to ensure a diverse candidate pool or deciding on whether we want to take on a new client based on their mission and values, our certification weighs heavily on everything we do. And knowing that B Lab requires member companies to re-certify every three years ensures we are always thinking of a decision’s impact on everyone.
The truth is, not just focusing on the bottom line has been good for business. Since Ad Victoriam started the process three years ago, we have doubled our revenue every year.
4. Best Practices, Industry Standards, and Benchmarks for Improvement
An unexpected byproduct of B Corp certification is the inspiration from the B Community to always strive for more. There will always be another B Corp doing more than you for their employees, the environment, and their community. Allowing these companies to inspire you to deepen your commitment opens the door to becoming an even better corporate citizen. Being open to measuring your company’s performance to that of others allows you to identify areas for improvement.
In an interview with Forbes, Barnana CEO Nik Ingersöll stated, “Being a B Corp has solidified our commitment to the way we run our business. They also have an amazing framework that has given us more ideas on how to become even more sustainable. It has given me a path to constant and continued improvement.”
And in an article from the Harvard Business Review, “It Pays to Become a B Corporation,” Richard Stammer, VP of B Corp Cabot Creamery, highlights the use of benchmarking to achieve operational cost savings as well as to recruit and retain employees. Stammer also points to Patagonia, who “report[ed] that certification helps promote and validate its employee-centric culture, which attracts great candidates because of the company’s reputation as a great place to work. Since becoming a B Corp, Patagonia expanded the medical, military, and paid maternity and paternity leave for regular full- and part-time U.S. employees.”
5. Walk the Walk
On top of everything, you are signaling to the marketplace that your mission is sincere and genuine. It helps potential customers and employees more easily sift through the noise and find companies that truly believe in CSR.
B Corp Certification isn’t a pledge or a commitment to simply do better. It is the etching of your mission and your beliefs in stone. As such, it requires time and commitment to achieving. But in the end, it is worth it.
In Part 2 of this series, we focus on tackling the BIA and getting your company B Corp certified. We’ll share common hurdles, best practices, and aids to get help get you there!
In November 2017, Ad Victoriam partner, YANMAR America, a leader in the design and manufacturing of diesel engines and diesel-powered equipment, opened the doors of their 50,000+ square foot YANMAR EVO//Center. The facility was designed specifically to help empower the YANMAR global mission of creating a sustainable future.
The EVO//Center features a product showroom/museum and a 300-person auditorium. Inside there's also a state-of-the-art training academy, training labs, private meeting/event space, indoor and outdoor common areas, and a product demonstration field. These spaces are designed to provide state-of-the-art training. They also support the local community with an active calendar of events focused on empowering sustainability.
With a Mission Statement that reads: “The EVO//Center strives to evolve the mindset of our customers, dealers, employees, and community by serving as a place of collaboration and education dedicated to sharing solutions for empowering sustainability,” the facility specifically raises customer satisfaction through a training program that:
Provides industry-leading training for our dealers, employees, and customers
Employs a highly skilled training staff
Continually develops curricula to meet the needs of our dealer network
Offers various types of training beyond technical training (sales, finance, parts, etc.)
In addition, the EVO//Center interacts with their community by:
Hosting community activities focusing on sustainability
Providing facilities and tools for businesses and the community to engage and collaborate
Offering training to individuals outside the YANMAR Dealer network
Educating children on sustainability and food production via school field trips
YANMAR Fosters Sustainable Future
It's one thing to say you “foster sustainability,” but through their EVO//Center, YANMAR has put it into practice by:
Signed “Partners in Education” agreements with several local schools. They host students from these schools and teach them about the importance of sustainability through engaging activities and games.
Hosting “sustainability-themed” community events such as garden symposiums and farmers markets. They are currently working with a local farm to install and maintain an apiary on the campus. Bees are a critical part of sustainability; keeping bees on campus will allow them to teach kids and adults about the important role they play in our ecosystem.
YANMAR//Academy not only teaches their dealers how to better serve their customers, but it also hosts a variety of business management courses designed to help our dealers be successful and self-sustaining.
“Our goal, therefore," says YANMAR EVO//Center Marketing and Events Manager Todd Grondzki, “is to have the best-trained dealer network in the various industries we serve. We also want to generate awareness for YANMAR and our mission of “a sustainable future” within the local community. We hope our efforts will empower the local community to be more sustainable in their homes, businesses, and everyday lives."
As a Certified B Corporation, Ad Victoriam Solutions donates our resources to create a better world for our employees, community, clients, and the environment. That's the reason we are so excited to partner with YANMAR America. Beyond our business relationship as a Salesforce implementation consultant, we're working on future sustainability projects that meet both of our missions.
Too busy? Not enough time to volunteer? Not enough spare change to make a donation? We understand. Here's 13 easy ways to give back without impacting your schedule or your wallet.
Where to Buy
Raise money for charities when you shop online using platforms like AmazonSmile or ShoppingGives. They enable you to give back to a designated charity. They receive a donation for every purchase you make.
Reduce your carbon footprint and give your local economy a boost by shopping local. Research suggests that every $1 spent at a locally owned business creates $3.50 of value in the local economy.
Shop farmers markets to further reduce your carbon and support local farmers. If you can’t find it, check out Whole Foods, which makes it part of their mission to support local farmers by sourcing a variety of items within a limited radius of their stores.
What You Buy
Socks are a necessity. And a good pair of socks is a game changer. Next time you’re replacing those socks with the hole in the big toe, check out the selection at Bombas Socks. The most requested clothing item at homeless shelters is socks, and Bombas donates a pair of socks for every pair purchased!
Support charities while grocery shopping by selectively choosing products. Companies like Newman’s Own believe in donating “100% of Profits to Charity.” Next time you’re debating between bottles of ranch, jars of spaghetti sauce, or frozen pizzas, look for the Newman’s Own label and make an impact.
Buy Toms shoes. Toms has been a leader in the corporate social responsibility movement for a long time, donating a pair of shoes for every pair purchased.
Everyone needs dish soap to wash their pots and pans. Look for Procter & Gamble, who has launched the Fairy Ocean Plastic bottle, made from 100% post-consumer recycled and ocean plastic. Their campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue of plastic use and the resulting damage it does to our waterways and oceans.
What do we all need, all buy, and all use every day? Toilet Paper! Who gives a Crap is a quality toilet paper company that reduces the impacts of deforestation by using environmentally friendly materials. They also donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those in need.
Goodbye plastic, hello bamboo! Put some shine behind your smile by using MABLE toothbrushes, which have a biodegradable handle, plastic-free packaging, and non-toxic ingredients. They donate one toothbrush for every brush bought, and conduct outreach to teach kids about dental health and sustainability.
After You Buy
Soda POP! Ronald McDonald House puts soda can tabs to charitable use with their Pop-Tab Program. After finishing your favorite soda, save the tabs and donate them to the Ronald McDonald House. The program recycles the tabs and uses the proceeds to help cover the costs of local accommodations for families whose kids are being treated at a Ronald McDonald Hospital.
Don’t recycle that empty cereal box just yet. Before you do, be sure to cut off and collect Box Tops coupons to support education at your local schools. Most schools have a collection box where you can deposit the tops, where they are then traded into General Mills in exchange for money towards school needs.
Filter through that closet and throw away that t-shirt you haven’t worn since 2008. Many homeless shelters will pick up your unwanted clothing and donate them to those in need. You can also find local Homeless Shelter donation spots and drop off your used clothing! Help make a difference in someone else’s life with a simple donation of something you’re not using anymore.
Every day presents a number of opportunities to make conscious, caring, and responsible decisions. Making a simple switch with your daily decisions, you can make a big difference without spending extra time or money. When you do good, you feel good!
About Ad Victoriam Solutions
Ad Victoriam is a Salesforce Platinum Partner and a MuleSoft partner who provides mission-critical consulting services, from strategy to implementation. Our nimble team of certified professionals across the country who accelerate businesses by solving complex problems through cloud and data expertise. As a certified B Corp, we put purpose over profits, and have made a strong commitment to community. Contact Ad Victoriam for all of your Salesforce needs.
Research indicates that workplace design has an impact on your mental health and wellbeing. It also has an impact on the earth. We built a workspace that positively impacted both.
After the initial move in day, we began to do what all companies do. We bought furniture, desks, chairs and a lot more. The office was nice, but didn’t really represent our uniqueness. About two years after our move, we decided to transform our space into something that is true to who we are, and did so in a manner that aligns with what we value.
Blu Interiors, a full-service, female-owned, interior design group founded with a mission to provide well-conceived, functional design plans was hired to improve the Ad Victoriam headquarters. With Blu Interiors, we not only created a productive, open, and inspiring place to work, we were also able to reduce our environmental impact.
Responsible, Inclusive, and Local Sourcing
Female-owned or local companies were chosen:
The design firm and furniture brokers were women-owned businesses.
The construction company and drapery designer were both local.
Our new Ad Victoriam Solutions sign in the lobby was manufactured in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Bulldog artwork displayed in our office was commissioned by an artist in Athens, Georgia.
Eco-friendly materials were purchased:
Filzfelt, 100% biodegradable and renewable sheeps wool, was used to soundproof our meeting rooms.
Our new whiteboards are made from Clarus glass. They are manufactured with Declare, Environmental Product Declaration, and Indoor Air Quality Certifications.
We’re not changing the world, but we are making an impact. It’s a small B Corp ripple, but a ripple worth making. And, if we can inspire other companies and individuals to consider environmental impact in their purchasing decisions, the scales will start tilting in the right direction.
About Ad Victoriam Solutions
Ad Victoriam is a Salesforce Platinum Partner and a MuleSoft partner who provides mission-critical consulting services, from strategy to implementation. Our nimble team of certified professionals across the country who accelerate businesses by solving complex problems through cloud and data expertise. As a certified B Corp, we put purpose over profits, and have made a strong commitment to community.