In December, 2017 my company, Connective Impact, became a B Corporation. Are you familiar with B Corps? Maybe you’ve seen the big, bold B label indicating a company has been certified as a B Corp? Perhaps you’ve heard B Corp Patagonia’s CEO Rose Marcario share why being a socially and environmentally minded company is so important both to the consciousness and bottom line of Patagonia. You may have even seen the B Corp logo when eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. B Corporations are certified companies balancing purpose and profit. They are companies as big as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Kickstarter, or Eileen Fisher, or as small as Connective Impact, using business as a force for good. Does it matter whether businesses care about purpose? Do conscious missions drive profits? Can businesses shape a new paradigm to advance opportunities that heal us or advance us?
You can read my take in my new book Purposeful Profits: Inside Successful Businesses Making a Positive Global Impact, out May 22nd.
You can also see mention of the role purpose and mission play in corporate decisions the world over if you pay any attention to how companies are evolving in the new generation of millennial leaders. What a company says, does, invests in, produces and how it advocates (or not) for certain issues matters. The B Corp movement is deeply involved in advancing the message that business can and should be a force for good, politically, socially, environmentally and economically.
As a B Corp, and a woman-owned business, Connective Impact is also part of a unique group of companies run by B Corp Female CEOs (18% to be exact). As one of these unique creatures, I was invited this past week to attend a convening at Eileen Fisher’s Learning Lab in upstate New York with 100 other B Corp Female CEOs to discuss how we, as women leaders, can effect the greatest change with our businesses, within our communities and our partners. Over the course of 1.5 days we worked within working groups, in small listening sessions, brainstorming about inspiration and challenges, fears and opportunities. We addressed ways to engage on political issues like climate change and gender equity, we discussed ways to shift capital so women-owned businesses (and especially diverse-women-led businesses) can get better access to funding, we talked circular economy, peer-to-peer networking and business development. We had delicious food and even more delicious dialogue.
To kick off the day we heard from Eileen Fisher herself, a pioneer in the mission-driven business space, as well as Nancy Green, CEO of Athleta and Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power. These women leaders shared unabashedly their own inspirations, sense of fears, struggle with balance and feelings of opportunity for the future. Capping off their presentation was the signing of the We the Change Manifesto (see below), which we all signed in support of a paradigm shift led by women-owned businesses.
The day was about focus, intention, authenticity, honesty and shifting power. It was about Purposeful Profits, women support, collaboration at its finest, and a commitment to make a change for future generations that is built on respecting our planet and each other. There’s nothing more pertinent in the notion of being a B Corp that that.
If you aren’t yet familiar with the B Corp movement, visit BCorporation.net. To learn more about the B Corp Women CEOs working groups, contact me anytime.
Joanne Sonenshine is Founder + CEO of Connective Impact, a partnership strategy advisory firm helping mission-driven companies advance social, environmental and economic impact through collaboration, and author of ChangeSeekers: Finding Your Path to Impact and Purposeful Profits: Inside Successful Businesses Making a Positive Global Impact.