B Corps Develop Innovative Policies and Practices to Build More Inclusive Workplaces
“It feels like I’m just so much more than the work that I produce, and I’m valued for more than that.”
“Working for this organization marks the first time in my career where I’ve truly felt like my identity and values are embodied in the way in which my employer does business.”
“As a team member, I feel more like a living creature who is cared about and working toward a common goal as opposed to a cog that is just working to meet the bottom line.”
While the reasons why people appreciate working at a Certified B Corporation differ by individual, they reflect the same guiding principle: Businesses that value the people who power their operations and, in turn, operate with their benefit in mind as well. It’s all part of the framework that businesses adopt when they go through B Corp Certification and legally commit to consider the impact of their decisions on their stakeholders: workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
The last two years have more people evaluating their relationship with their work and shaping their careers to better align with their personal values and lives. With a focus on positive impact on people and the planet, B Corps aim to provide workplaces that value employee needs beyond their on-the-clock contributions and realize the importance of incorporating workers’ ideas and opinions to build more inclusive and resilient businesses.
This March, B Corps are celebrating B Corp Month by going Behind the B to highlight the practices and policies that set them apart from other companies. We at B The Change are sharing examples of how these businesses incorporate a positive impact on stakeholders while creating a profit and embedding purpose in their operations.
For this article, B The Change reached out to B Corp employees to learn what they appreciate about working at a stakeholder-minded business, and how B Corps stand out from the crowd of other companies. Here are a few examples they shared, including a final section of quotes selected from individuals at several B Corps.
Supporting Parents: Piloting an Infant-at-Work Program
At Participate Learning, the organizational mission is to create global, cultural, and language connections by partnering with schools and districts to prepare students to contribute to the global marketplace. As part of its internal commitment, the North Carolina-based B Corp also focuses on its positive impact on employees, including a new infants-at-work pilot program that allows parents to bring infants up to 6 months old to work.
Sara Dittman, senior event planner, first heard of similar programs at other companies after the birth of her oldest child. After she learned she was pregnant again, she talked with Participate Learning’s director of human resources, Ranya Hahn, about giving an infants-at-work program a try. Another colleague, Paula Rock, digital content strategist, also was expecting a baby and interested in the program. Both had worked at Participate Learning for about five years.
“We found some other companies that had done similar programs, as well as an infants-at-work resource that provides forms and documents to model from,” Dittman says. “So Paula and I used that and changed some things to make it more applicable to our environment, and created a one-pager that we submitted to HR for approval.”
While Participate Learning instituted a flexible work plan during COVID-19 that allows workers to choose whether to work from home or at the office, Hahn says it also was a good time to test the infants-at-work program as another flexible option. Both Dittman and Rock say the program helped ease the transition back to work after maternity leave, allowing them to spend more time with their daughters — Nora and Dahlia — while also creating a workday routine with support from their colleagues. As part of the program, parents must have designated backup colleagues who can help care for the infant at the office.
“During the program, I did come to the office every day,” Dittman says. “I wanted to create a sense of routine for her, and it made it easier for me to schedule my day and have the extra support around the office.”
Rock says she also appreciated the office support and setup at Participate Learning, which includes a lactation room, and the flexibility to work from home some days. “It was wonderful to be able to use that but also nice some days not to have to get up and go,” she says. “That flexibility was helpful to me and continues to be one of the benefits of working here.”
Hahn says one surprise benefit of the infants-at-work program is the uplifting effect on other workers at the office. “When we were planning it, we were thinking about how we can support our employees, how we can support these mothers who have young babies and their transition back to the workplace,” Hahn says. “But a great benefit we found after we did it was the joy it brought others.”
Being able to experience the baby milestones happening between 3 and 6 months of age was an appreciated perk, Dittman says, noting that she missed some of those with her older son who went to daycare at that age. Another surprising benefit followed once her daughter reached 6 months: “She transitioned into daycare seamlessly, because she was so socialized at the office. That made it easier on me when it came time to put her in daycare too,” Dittman says. “I was surprised at how much I felt supported as a new mom, and how much my baby was accepted into the fold and the work life.”
Rock says the infants-at-work program is just one example of how Participate Learning takes a long-term approach in supporting employees and appreciating their priorities beyond the workplace. “It feels like I’m just so much more than the work that I produce, and I’m valued for more than that,” Rock says. “I was relatively fresh out of college when I started working here, and I’ve been able to grow personally in my career here. We’re making a difference in the lives of others — fellow employees and the teachers — through the work we do.”
By incorporating offerings like the infants-at-work program, Hahn says Participate Learning hopes to continue to build its collaborative workplace atmosphere while honoring the individual needs of its 70 employees. “Now that we’ve done it, we’ve realized it was so easy and great, and we have wondered why we didn’t do it sooner,” Hahn says. “That’s the best feedback you can give on a new program or initiative — when you wish you had started it sooner.”
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Allowing Workers to Show Up — and Grow — As Their Full Selves
The opportunity to grow personally and professionally is also a priority for B Corp Coast Capital, a member-owned financial cooperative based in British Columbia. After starting work there four years ago as a bank teller, TJ Delegencia was recently named Coast Capital’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Coordinator as part of the B Corp’s growing team leading that work.
“As a Chinese-Filipino second-generation Asian-Canadian and gay man, this work means everything to me,” he says. “Employees deserve a healthy and happy workplace culture where they experience psychological safety and can show up as their full selves. As an organization that elevates EDI throughout the business, Coast Capital embodies these principles. My time here has empowered me to leverage my passions in engaging EDI and has helped me build a safe space and platform to lead through my unique contributions.”
Delegencia started as a contributor to the company’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council, one of six employee-led resource groups at Coast Capital that focus on raising awareness of inequities. “Now that I’m in my EDI-dedicated role, I strive to empower Coast Capital employees to trust that their voices are valued not only at work, but community-wide. Employees can trust that they can be who they want to be and end up where they want to go — no matter where they started,” he says. “Working for this organization marks the first time in my career where I’ve truly felt like my identity and values are embodied in the way in which my employer does business.”
That commitment to using business as a force for good is exemplified by Coast Capital’s 11.9-point jump in its B Impact Assessment score during its recent recertification, Delegencia says. “A corporate culture that is always open to bettering itself, and consistently reiterating, is one of the most — if not the most — important factors of a great workplace,” he says. “When considering a job, I’ve always made a point of visualizing where it is that I could grow and build a foundation for my career based on what I know of that organization’s long-term goals and values.”
A New Way of Doing Business
To help business leaders navigate the journey to adopt benefit corporation status as a requirement of B Corp Certification, B Lab U.S. & Canada provides this resource, the Board Playbook, to lay out the process and demystify the risks.
For Every Worker, a Personal Reason to Appreciate Working at a B Corp
B Corps are evaluated on several areas related to their workers, including health and safety, career development, and engagement and satisfaction. Here’s what employees at a few B Corps had to say about those areas, in their own words:
At Southern Energy Management, a North Carolina-based rooftop solar and building performance expert:
“I view a B Corp more as an ecosystem vs. the traditional corporate ‘machine.’ As a team member, I feel more like a living creature who is cared about and working toward a common goal as opposed to a cog that is just working to meet the bottom line.” — Noah Hanley, Builder Energy Services Team Lead
“Southern Energy Management has its own educational program, SEM YOUniversity. I feel like there is so much potential here in this category to provide a network of professional development with co-workers supporting co-workers and encouraging people to create a community of skill sharing.” — Emma Fry, Part-Time Associate
At Participant, a California-based media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires audiences to engage in positive social change:
“It’s fascinating to be part of the B Corp recertification process and articulate how Participant’s values of environmental and societal sustainability fit into the B Corp ethos — one area that jumped out to me was how great our benefits are for employees at all levels — and to learn about areas where we have room to improve.” — Abby Lewis-Worthington, Director, Business Operations
“Our products and services promote cultural and civic engagement, and it’s remarkable to see how that impact multiplies over time. I’ve met leaders who decided to defend the environment after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, parents whose college-age kids started pursuing law after seeing films like RBG or Just Mercy, and communities energized by films like John Lewis: Good Trouble.” — Amanda Chen, VP, Social Impact
At PATHFINDER, an Ontario-based social enterprise that provides consulting for sustainable international development:
“What we appreciate about being a B Corp most is the validation and recognition of our commitment to the world we live in. We are amongst visionaries; a group of people who challenge damaging norms by demonstrating that there are, in fact, much better ways of working.” — Shivani Singh, Co-Founder and Managing Partner
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