It was such an honor to attend the B Corp
Champions Retreat two weeks ago in Burlington, VT! I was lucky enough to drive up with two other Ithaca B Corps, Comet Skateboards
and Singlebrook Technology
. The drives up and back down were incredible. The foliage was beautiful and there was wonderful conversation on both business and personal fronts.
|With Brook Eddy, Founder of Bhakti Chai|
At the retreat, I had the opportunity to meet other B Corp company employees and founders, tour the Ben & Jerry's factory, take a beautiful cruise on Lake Champlain, get inspired by a series of TED-style talks by B Corp leaders, eat amazing food in Burlington, paint a mural AND meet many members of the B Corp offices. It was wonderful.
I left the retreat feeling more proud than ever to be a B Corp! This is such an important movement happening all over the world. In the simplest sense, when I see a B Corp logo on a product or service, I know that they "walk the walk" whether its in their own communities, for the environment or with the employees of their organization...and usually, it's a mix of everything.
|With Kate Canfield from Inspiring Capitol|
I continue to be so inspired by Ben & Jerry's. Yes, I know they make dairy ice cream with a lot of sugar in it! I don't actually eat Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but I am so impressed by the way they have maintained their mission post-sale to Unilever. In addition, their sourcing is pretty impressive. Two of their major suppliers are B Corps: Greyston Bakery and Rhino Foods. Greyston
provides Ben & Jerry's with the brownie batter that goes into flavors like Half Baked. They are located in New York and have an open-hire policy. This means that anyone who shows up at their bakery is able to get a job there. This means that a lot of people who have been incarcerated, who would normally wouldn't have a chance at a job, can get one. And what they find is that their employees are so happy to have a good job, that they turn it into a real career. Their employees are proud and put a lot of effort into making their products great. Rhino Foods
is in Vermont. They provide Ben & Jerry's with all of the cookie dough that goes into a couple of flavors including Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Rhino Foods has been around for a LONG time. What inspired me most about them was their Open Book Management policy, which basically means that every employee of the company can see what the other is making, financially. I love how transparent that makes the company and can see how motivating it might be for their employees. Way to go Ben & Jerry's for supporting two companies doing great things.
I left excited about all of the cool things we have going on here: creative employee benefits, community service, the fact that the food we produce is actually nourishing people, how many employees ride bikes to work, being woman-owned etc etc. But, I also realized how much more there is to do. And, it's not just to get points on the B Corp Assessment (although that is a nice way to track progress), but because it's what is right and what we believe as business owners. As we grow, I can certainly promise that our giving, sustainability and social causes will just get stronger.
Just last week, The B Corp Handbook
came out! Its a wonderful book that acts as a guide on "How to Use Business as a Force for Good." Inside you can read stories from leaders of big B Corps such as Patagonia, Dansko, Ben & Jerry's, Seventh Generation, Etsy, etc and how being a B Corp has benefitted their businesses. I highly recommend this book. Whether you are interested in starting a company, getting your company certified or just curious on where your business might fall in the "doing-good" spectrum, it will be beneficial for you. Purchase here
The last thing I want to say is thank you to anyone who is reading this. It's crazy to say that we have been in business for six years! It's starting to feel like a long time (even though I know it's not)! I am constantly reminded how we wouldn't be here if it weren't for our customers, fans, friends and family. If it weren't for you, we wouldn't have even gotten far enough to become a B Corp and do so much good. And just you wait for the future! Thank you.