B Corp Certification Means Something More
We recently became a Certified B Corporation®. B Corps are a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
A fundamental piece of B Corp literature, the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence is about our interconnectedness with each other and the world. In that spirit, I am going to acknowledge some of the connections that allowed us to get here.
First – to be clear – I can’t take credit for any of this.
If I had been able to find a job in 2008 when everything was crashing, I would have taken it and I would not have started this company. If my partner had not had so many connections, we never would have gotten any business. If my wife hadn’t supported me (in every way), we would have folded. If the state hadn’t paid for the birth of my son, which I could not afford at the time, we would have folded. And, that is just the first few years. Just the most glaring examples.
This is the result of the collective efforts of 14 people.
As a business, we rely on each other (our co-workers) to get work done. We rely on our clients to trust us and continue paying us. We rely on the internet people, the electricity, the people who take the trash, those who keep the road in good shape. We rely on our neighbors to live with us peacefully. And, in turn, they rely on us to honor that bond.
But what does it mean to honor the bond of interdependence as a company?
Well, first, it means that it is going to cost you something. Bullhorn is glad to pay our fair share of taxes because we value the safety net that the state provides.
It means we are concerned with geography. Our office is in the Cane Run Watershed, the source of drinking water. That means the water that leaves our property ultimately ends up in an aquifer that people use. It has also been identified as highly polluted. We are obligated to limit run-off because we care about the health of our streams, the wildlife, the plants. Because we care about the quality of the water we drink.
Our electricity is generated from coal. In order to get that, coal machines as big as houses take mountains apart. In order to turn the coal into electricity, you have to catch it on fire. Neither of those activities dramatically affects us day to day because they happen remotely. But, in effect they do happen in our neighbors’ backyards, and they’re linked to everything from asthma to cancer. So, we take limiting the amount of electricity we use pretty seriously.
We are concerned with transportation. Much of the impact we make on the environment is directly tied to how transport ourselves. We are investing in the ability to more seamlessly video-conference to limit travel for meetings. We reimburse bus fare. We support efforts to bicycle and walk to work. And, because we support that, we advocate for safer, more complete streets for all the users, not just drivers.
We are concerned with history. Our office is in a previously disinvested part of Lexington. We benefit from lower property values. We are even praised because our presence in this place signifies creativity. But it is at a high cost to our neighbors who have lived here. They have paid with deplorable housing conditions, low-performing schools, poor access to healthy food, and higher rates of violence and racial tension. So, you can understand why we are serious about the social impact our business has.
And all of this is possible because we are concerned with the people and processes that make up this business. We think adults should treat each other like adults. We think people need time away to recharge. We think parents need to spend time with their children. We think all of us deserve health insurance. We think we need more plants, better coffee, and, occasionally, cake. We think people deserve the opportunity to work hard and be rewarded for that effort. We think that work should be meaningful.
There are even more ways that we offer the bond of interdependence. You can go here to see the full report of how we are doing. All of the information has been verified by a third party that was more rigorous than I would have preferred.
Becoming a B Corporation is our next step. It is a way to show the world what we are doing without telling them. It is a way to be more transparent about what we are doing well and what we are struggling with. And, hopefully, it provides a roadmap for us to better care for ourselves and the communities in which we operate.