We're Back From Bootcamp

by crystal wilson


Early this year we attended a workshop called B corp Bootcamp, which we mentioned briefly in this post. The idea behind the Benefit Corporation (B corp) movement is that a company does not need to exist simply for the purpose of improving their profit and doing well for their shareholders. The premise is that a business can reach financial success all the while taking into account all stakeholders – shareholders, customers, their community, and the environment.

The movement is picking up steam globally, with over 1200 businesses certified as B Corps in 38 countries. It’s a huge network all working towards one common goal – to Be the Change. These companies believe that the position of business owner comes with a responsibility to use business as a force for good. It is as simple and as complex as that. The task of becoming a B Corp requires a business to go through a rigorous assessment process examining practices around governance, business model, worker treatment, environmental standards and impact, as well as community involvement. Over the next few months, as we complete our certification, we will touch on each of these topics. For now, let’s start out with a hot-button issue – Worker treatment. A B Corp believes that employees are a huge asset, and are not afraid to treat them as such. This can be reflected in many ways, including offering paid vacations, extended health care benefits, paid volunteer opportunities, paying a living wage, and creating a work environment which is enjoyable.

Many businesses, when presented with these challenges jump to responses like:
“We cannot afford to pay for benefits”,
“minimum wage is acceptable – otherwise it would not be government mandated”, and
"work is for working - nothing more".
We disagree – before FLOW was formed, the decision was made that any and all staff (or team members, as we call them) would be paid an hourly wage which would allow them to pay for the necessities of life, and have some left over. Our employees would not be simply working to pay the bills. They would be working to enrich their lives. As a start-up, this has been a big challenge, but we have managed to make it work, although it has on occasion meant that sacrifices have been necessary on both sides of the coin. We have also tried to create a culture within FLOW that is enjoyable, respectful, and engaging for our team members. We have give them opportunities to learn, we trade with local professionals so we have "extras" to offer our team members, and we offer a flexible work schedule. That being said, we have messed up on multiple occasions - at times we have communicated poorly, asked too much, and been less available than we promised to be. Overall though, we believe that our team believes our commitment to creating a great atmosphere for them. They have responded to that by giving an incredible effort, bringing their best to our clients, and working hard to see FLOW grow. One of the things we love so much about the B Corp certification is that it requires members to document their improvement in each measured area - so they will help hold us accountable to creating the employee environment that we are aspiring to have, and that our team members deserve. Watch this video to hear from some B Corps who also have committed to creating an office culture and employee experience that allows each employee to build a life , not just make a living:

We believe that one of the most important things for a business to do to set themselves up for success is to give their employees what they need to feel secure and to enjoy working in the business. Imagine the difference in an employee who is simply working in order to ensure they have a roof over their heads and can feed their families, and an employee who comes to work knowing that, even if something unexpected comes up this month, they will still be able to provide the necessities for their family. An employee who knows when they get to work they will still be with people who genuinely care how they are, and want to see them succeed.

To learn more about the B Corporation movement check out their website here or contact us! We don’t have all the answers, but would be thrilled to have coffee with you and tell you about our journey towards certification so far!

What do you think is the best reason to make a commitment to creating an office culture like those described by the B corps in the video?

What to you think is one of the reasons more employers have not adopted these practices?

Let’s get a buzz going!