How Can Businesses Do Better?
Defining how companies can be among the Best for Colorado
Colorado is home to more certified B Corporations than any other state in the nation. Why should this matter to businesses, municipalities and consumers?
Because where there are B Corps, there are people and companies that are passionate about their social and environmental impact.
For those who have not yet heard of the B Corp movement, this growing group of businesses is working to accelerate a global culture shift to redefine success and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
In Colorado, leaders such as New Belgium Brewing Company, Namaste Solar, EcoProducts and others are setting the tone for responsible business practices and sharing their stories so that others can learn how to use business as a force for good.
WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS
The B Corp movement is part of a larger trend toward corporate social responsibility that is is gaining momentum across the country. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) in its simplest definition, is a form of corporate self-regulation that is integrated into the core business model. In other words, CSR is a way for companies to take responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of their operations. While some may argue that engaging in responsible business practices can be costly, research indicates the return on investment for CSR can be substantial.
For example, according to a recent study by ProjectROI, CSR programs can increase productivity up to 13 percent and reduce the employee turnover rate by up to 50 percent for large, publicly traded companies. For each employee that is retained, companies can save as much as 90 percent to 200 percent of that employee’s salary.
Furthermore, prospective employees often view companies with strong CSR as more attractive and are willing to take up to a 5 percent pay cut to work for these firms. Aside from the benefits for CSR on a company’s human resources, the study also found companies can increase revenue by as much as 20 percent and can increase market value by up to 6 percent when they strategically and authentically engage in CSR initiatives.
Authentic engagement in CSR is key to maximizing returns on these initiatives. This means articulating a commitment to specific goals, aligning CSR practices with business strategy, establishing quantifiable management metrics and seeking authentic buy-in.
In our current political climate, consumers are raising the stakes for companies to stand for something. According to a recent Cone Communications study, 63 percent of Americans are hopeful that businesses will take the lead to drive social and environmental change moving forward, in the absence of government regulation. Now, 87 percent of consumers will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about, and 76 percent will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported a cause contrary to their beliefs. Nike’s recent ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick and the ensuing bump in online sales illustrates how modern consumers are using their buying power to support brands that align with their personal beliefs. While engaging in corporate social responsibility initiatives can allow companies to increase employee retention, boost their sales and increase their market value, many companies struggle to find a way to start this journey.
THE GATEWAY TO CSR
Colorado is a prime business environment for companies looking to start their CSR journey. B Lab –the nonprofit that manages B Corp certification – has been working to certify companies across Colorado for more than 10 years. As part of this initiative, the team created the Best for Colorado Challenge which is designed to help companies take the first step into socially and environmentally responsible business practices.
Best for Colorado is an abbreviated assessment that businesses can take for free, designed to help companies learn about business practices that are “best for” Colorado’s environment, workers and communities. More than 280 organizations have already taken the Best for Colorado Challenge and many of those organizations have gone on to achieve the full B Corp certification. The benefits of being a Best for Colorado company don’t end with the initial assessment. Participants in Best for Colorado join a community of peers who are working toward similar goals. They also have access to tools, expertise and on-going support to help them improve their impact on the B Impact Assessment. The Best for Colorado community is open to any Colorado company, including B Corps who have already been certified.
BEST FOR COLORADO'S NEW HOME: THE ALLIANCE CENTER
On October 1, the Best for Colorado Challenge officially moved to its new home at The Alliance Center, a multifaceted nonprofit with an event- and collaborative-work space in the heart of downtown Denver. The Alliance is dedicated to bringing people together to create a world where communities are inclusive, democracy is strong, the environment is healthy and our economy thrives.
With more than 50 mission-aligned tenants, including nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies that are working to create a more sustainable future, The Alliance Center is an ideal organization to grow the Best for Colorado Challenge. Blue Dot Advocates, a tenant within the Alliance Center, is already B Corp certified, and the Alliance hopes to add more Best for Colorado companies as tenants in the near future.
The Alliance has been in conversations with B Lab for a number of years to offer the Best for Colorado Challenge as part of their educational and capacity-building programming. Tens of thousands of people come through The Alliance Center’s doors every year to attend over 450 events to learn how they can personally take action toward a more sustainable Colorado. The Alliance recognizes that businesses and nonprofits must work hand-in-hand to create positive change, and that business can be a powerful force for good.
WHY SHOULD YOUR COMPANY CONSIDER TAKING THE BEST FOR COLORADO CHALLENGE?
By participating in the Best for Colorado Challenge, businesses can take their first steps toward authentic corporate social responsibility practices. Here are just a few of the benefits of participating in the Challenge.
- Gain the tools to measure, track, and improve your environmental and social impact.
- Take part in trainings, networking events, and expertise exchange opportunities with other Best for Colorado companies.
- Learn how to communicate and market your CSR practices to recruit potential employees and connect with new customers.
- Take advantage of your unique access to experts from local universities and MBA programs who can help guide you through the full B Corp certification process.
- Learn from other companies who have already completed B Corp certification about how to scale up your company’s CSR initiative.
Ashley Lovell is the director of communications and marketing for The Alliance Center.