Best for Colorado 2018
Honoring companies with a higher calling
Some businesspeople define success as having a positive influence and valuable impact on their community, locally or globally. A small group of pioneering professionals has set the bar even higher, operating their companies thoughtfully and holding their teams to rigorous standards, earning the loyalty of their customers, investors and employees.
That group of 16 companies was celebrated June 7 at the second annual Best for Colorado Awards Gala. Organized by B Lab, the statewide program was officially launched June 8, 2017 to help companies measure their positive impact and improve their social and environmental practices.
The overarching vision of the program and awards is to “equip and celebrate the companies creating higher-quality jobs, stronger communities and preserving the environment through the vehicles of their businesses,” says Liz Swanson, Best for Colorado’s program manager.
“Any company, regardless of size or revenue, is really welcome into this community,” Swanson adds.
Locally, that includes 325 companies – from a sandwich shop to an advertising agency – that participated in the program, completing a 30-minute online “challenge” assignment, followed by a pledge to continue measuring their impact, management and improvement.The Best for Colorado program presents the opportunity to formalize corporate practices and share the stories and strong commitments these companies have. Thanks to an easy-to-navigate platform, companies can take the B Impact Assessment and follow up with shared best practices and networking events.
“The way we’ve scaled it so far is with a coalition of 30 partner organizations,” Swanson says of the chambers of commerce, municipalities, nonprofits and more, that are all “mission-aligned.”
THE PROOF IN THE PUDDING
Since restaurants traditionally have notably large environmental footprints, Denver-based Snooze an A.M. Eatery received the Best for Colorado recognition for its high level of performance across the four areas of the B Impact Assessment. That includes, specifically, food and material sourcing; energy, water and resource conservation; and its people-centric policies. The 26-location brand is not a certified B Corporation, although the company has used the assessment as a tool to evaluate its impact.
“I always like to tell people our ‘why,’” Snooze’s Director of Sustainability Megan Jorgensen says. “Our motto is, ‘It only takes a moment to make a difference.’ That holds true with our interactions with guests, how we treat our employees, our community giving program and our impact on the environment.”
Waste diversion is another priority for Snooze. Jorgensen designed a simple three-bin receptacle to encourage customers to help the company achieve and maintain its 85 percent to 90 percent landfill diversion. In 2017 alone, the eatery diverted 2.3 million pounds.
Moreover, “The reusable cups at our ‘free coffee while you wait’ stations helped to avoid the unnecessary use of 50,000 disposable cups per Snooze location each year,” Jorgensen says.
Sienna Trapp-Bowie, owner of Boulder’s Fortuna Chocolate, says after farmer’s market customers spoke of the benefit corporation movement, she “thought it would be the right business community for us.”
Fortuna strives to address the relationships possible across borders, cultures and industries.
“The professional farmers Fortuna works with act as business partners, rather than charity or third-world citizens to be rescued,” Trapp-Bowie says.
Off the Front Range, Swanson says there are well-attended Best for Colorado programs in Gunnison and established, deep partnerships in Durango.
In Montrose, product company Mayfly Outdoors underwent B Lab Certification in 2017.
“In the outdoor industry, B Lab has a lot more meaning than a lot of others,” Mayfly President David Dragoo says. “B Lab does an excellent job of telling people why a company is good. It’s meaningful for folks … because they can be, at times, overwhelmed or suspicious of bigger corporations.”
One of Mayfly’s goals is to conserve wildlife and fishing habitats, Dragoo says, adding that 10 percent of the company’s revenue is directed toward those efforts.
This trend also touches the legal industry. Moye White LLP, the largest and one of the first law firms to earn B Corp certification in Colorado, has hosted and participated in a number of Best for Colorado events. “Moye White has always been a community-facing firm,” says Dave Katalinas, a partner with the firm. “We believe in giving back to the communities in which we live and work, and aligning our business with the greater good IS good business.”
There are five “Best for” programs around the world, including New York City, Philadelphia, Rhode Island and Geneva, Switzerland. As of this October, The Alliance Center – a downtown Denver-based coworking space focused on sustainability – will transition into the program lead role in Colorado. B Lab will continue as a partner.
According to Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, the hand-off will result in “little change … we want to find out directly from the companies where they want to go deeper.”
BEST FOR THE WORLD
Along with Best for Colorado, a host of local companies were acknowledged on a global stage. Businesses that earned top scores on the B Impact Assessment were also celebrated in June with the announcement of B Lab’s 2018 “Best for the World” awards.
“Business is one of the most powerful levers we have to change systems,” says John-Paul Maxfield, whose company, Waste Farmers, was acknowledged in 2018.
Honoree companies earned placement on one or more of the six possible Best for the World lists, a rare comprehensive, comparable, third-party-validated data catalogue covering a company’s social and environmental performance, employee relationships, diversity, community involvement, the impact a company’s product or service has on those it serves and more.
Seth Levine, managing director of Boulder’s Foundry Group and another Best for the World honoree this year, says he has been preoccupied with the collision of entrepreneurship and social change since he, Jason Mendelson, Ryan McIntyre and Brad Feld started the fund in 2006.
“We take B Certification and [the] obligation to the community very seriously,” Levine says, adding that his firm completed its re-certification this June.
Looking forward, the intention for Best for Colorado is to help participating companies improve their impacts while connecting with local resources from the B Corp and nonprofit communities.
Swanson says the biggest challenge for her team has been “getting beyond preaching to the choir. How do we continue to reach businesses that wouldn’t necessarily see themselves as part of this conversation? How do we reach those unusual suspects?”
The second group of Best for Colorado honorees will be awarded in June 2019.
BEST FOR COLORADO HONOREES
AYZH Inc., Fort Collins
Wordbank LLC, Denver
Fortuna Single Estate Chocolate LLC, Boulder
Van Meter Williams Pollack LLP, Denver
Relish Studio, Boulder
Horse & Dragon Brewing Co. LLC, Fort Collins
Saunders Construction Inc., Englewood
Upslope Brewing Co., Boulder
Avid4 Adventure Inc., Boulder
My Trail Co., Boulder
Organic Sandwich Co., Boulder
Solas Energy LLC, Fort Collins
Mayfly Outdoors, Colorado Springs
Modus Law Ltd., Boulder
Snooze, an AM Eatery, Denver
BEST FOR COLORADO HONORABLE MENTION
Nikola Power Inc., Colorado Springs
Only Natural Pet LLC, Boulder
BEST FOR THE WORLD – COLORADO COMPANIES