The B Corp certification process as seen by a CEO who did it

Most boardrooms are dominated by the underside line. Too many CEOs can recite a decade’s price of earnings data however can’t maintain a significant dialog concerning the communities they function in or the purchasers they serve. Nevertheless, in the previous few years, that angle has began to shift. Extra leaders perceive that being good and being worthwhile are usually not mutually unique. Most of the time, the previous is a crucial element to the latter.

That is one thing we’ve identified to be true at WeTransfer since we opened our doorways in 2009. In truth, we determined in these early days that we’d donate 30% of our promoting stock to voices and causes that aligned with our values in perpetuity. Blocking practically a third of a crucial income stream was—and nonetheless is—a large deal for our group. However we do it gladly yearly. Since then, our strategy to company social duty has advanced and expanded in ways in which we’re happy with. The greatest level of pleasure to this point has been reaching B Corp standing. We celebrated one yr of certification final fall.

The process to develop into a B Corp was eye-opening. As a corporation whose dedication to company social duty (CSR) is deeply embedded in our basis, we anticipated the process to be pretty easy. This was not the case. The rigors of the B Corp process put our efforts to be a pressure for good by way of their paces in a approach we’d by no means had earlier than. It was humbling to look again in any respect our arduous work and weed out areas for enchancment and progress.

By means of the entire process, three challenges specifically stand out from the remaining: measurement, goal-setting, and altering company habits.


Problem one: Creating commonplace measurements

Regardless of all the great work we’d completed over the previous 10 years, we rapidly realized that we hadn’t spent sufficient time creating a technique to measure the influence. For instance, we had given away billions of promoting impressions free of charge to assist underrepresented artists and essential causes, such as gun and healthcare reform. However we couldn’t present the distinction these impressions made for the people or the causes. We simply assumed we have been serving to the world, and left it at that.

Right this moment, we’re dedicated to bringing the identical degree of stringent measurement standards to our CSR actions that we do to each different element of our enterprise. The best influence of that shift to this point has been on our quest to shrink our carbon footprint. Our carbon footprint is awfully blended up in that of our provide chain companions’, and we’ve needed to reevaluate and reorient crucial relationships as a end result. For instance, we realized that our cloud utilization by way of Amazon Net Providers was a big driver of our carbon footprint. So as a substitute of viewing our AWS relationship as supplier/person, we checked out it as changing into companions on lowering that footprint. We labored hand in hand to calculate every side of our utilization and located inventive methods to decrease it.

[Image: courtesy of WeTransfer]Whereas this was actually difficult at first, AWS has since develop into one among our closest advisors on methods to use its service much less intensely and is commonly presenting inventive concepts to maintain us on observe.

Problem two: There is no such thing as a end line

We’re a goal-oriented group; we love setting targets, hitting them, and shifting on to the subsequent one. Targets and targets rooted in duty, nonetheless, are usually not at all times so clear-cut. We got here to the cruel realization that accountable work by no means actually ends. B Lab, the group that certifies B Corps, understands this and requires B Corps to recertify each three years. The process requires proof of milestones achieved and a presentation of recent milestones to pursue.

Once more, our environmental objectives supply nice examples of this. Whereas we have been capable of obtain carbon neutrality 4 years forward of schedule—one thing we’re very happy with—we’ve relied closely on carbon offsets to take action. Whereas we preserve the gold commonplace for the offsets we make use of, we’re continuously searching for methods to take away carbon intensive processes from our operations instantly.

As we learn to higher ourselves, we invite our group to do the identical. We’re prioritizing transparency in order that creatives have the knowledge they should use and interact with our merchandise in ways in which favor carbon neutrality, such as deleting recordsdata after sending as a substitute of storing them indefinitely. That is a workforce effort, and the one approach we’ll succeed is with inside and exterior buy-in.


Problem three: Altering our collective mindset

Creating long-lasting change will not be one thing you’ll be able to simply need to do. Making higher selections required all of us at WeTransfer to regulate our mindset and alter our habits. Whereas our workforce members share our mission-driven angle, change continues to be troublesome and requires some further steps and changes to every particular person’s approach of working.

In case you’re eager about changing into a B Corp, I recommend you begin now, and begin with an open thoughts.

One such change was implementing our new accountable journey coverage, which impacts frequency of worldwide and home journey, how we guide flights, and which kinds of flights we guide. Whereas this may increasingly not appear to be a important change, it instantly impacts these who don’t dwell close to a principal workplace, and we’re nonetheless working to navigate how we hold our tight-knit tradition whereas additionally mandating much less journey.

Moreover, our ambition to enhance variety at our firm was one among our most difficult objectives and has required a important change in mindset. The change needed to be so drastic that we realized bringing in additional educated outdoors companions was the one technique to really perceive methods to alter our hiring practices. We’re a firm rising quick in an business that has not traditionally been extremely various. These companions are serving to us determine under-represented swimming pools of expertise and recalibrate our concept of a certified candidate to degree the hiring taking part in subject.

Recommendation from the CEO of a B Company

Changing into a B Corp will not be for everybody. However, in the event you’re nonetheless intrigued, let me supply some recommendation, alongside these challenges, from somebody who has and continues to navigate them.

WeTransfer CEO Gordon Willoughby [Photo: coourtesy of WeTransfer]Most significantly, don’t begin out on this journey for the sake of with the ability to say you’re a B Corp or since you suppose it will win you extra prospects. As an alternative, take into consideration in case your stakeholders will stand behind you and push you ahead on the street as a substitute of holding you again.

Be clear with everybody—your workforce, your prospects, your traders—earlier than, throughout, and after the choice to develop into a B Corp. You’ll want their assist, and every group will be a helpful sounding board, providing their very own insights and concepts alongside the way in which.

Inspiration also can come from the B Corps which have come earlier than you. Gatekeeping has no place within the B Corp journey. In truth, WeTransfer believes so strongly in spreading our data that yearly we plan to place out a Accountable Enterprise Report detailing the progress we’ve made towards our objectives. We released our first report in April 2021 and hope that it can act as a blueprint for different tech corporations with ambitions to affix the B Corp membership.

In case you’ve been eager about changing into a B Corp, I recommend you begin now, and begin with an open thoughts. It’s not a simple process, however it’s one with the potential to enhance your tradition, business and, finally, the way in which we follow enterprise world wide.

Gordon Willoughby is CEO of WeTransfer, an Amsterdam-based supplier of inventive workflow instruments.