B Corp: Beyond values alignment

Article by
Chris Johnston

Why working for a B Corp is awesome.

Redvespa is a B Corp and I feel very lucky to work here. To tell you why I think working for a B Corp is the bees-knees, I have to take you back a few years…

It has long been recognised that sense of belonging is an important human need. Working in traditional businesses, I felt that sense of connection and belonging for many years, until one day ... I didn’t. I realised the growing sense of restlessness that had been creeping up on me for months was because the official ‘Company Values’ were no longer enough for me. Whilst they were noble, and I believed, liked, and agreed with them, I no longer felt connection.

This wasn’t really anything to do with the business or role, instead it was a new perspective on the way all the businesses that were visible to me were operating. It was the businesses I was a customer of. The businesses I worked for in the past. It was business as I knew it. Simply making “the boat go faster” no longer felt like it was enough. The focus on efficiency gains, through-put time improvements, cost reductions, sales, and profitability increases suddenly felt cold.   

I felt twitchy and dissatisfied. With our world facing climate change disaster and inequality becoming such a huge issue in New Zealand, surely there was something more that businesses could do. Surely these entities, which make up such an enormous part of all our lives and our communities, could do something different to positively influence people’s lives. Surely, they could do more than just return increased share price and dividends to those privileged enough to own a shareholding; more than sponsoring a sports team or a stall at a school fair ¹.

Around the same time I was realising these things, a friend recommended that I check out a product from a local company - we both love buying local. When I went to their online shop, I noticed they were a “Certified B Corporation”. Having never heard of this and being curious, I started researching. I very much liked what I was reading. 

Over the next couple of years, I got real about what my values were: I figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up and I started working towards it. Part of this process meant getting clear on where I wanted to work in the future. I wrote down two specific companies on my list and then a line which read,

“a B Corp certified company”

A few months later, when I was considering the opportunity to join Redvespa, they announced their B Corp certification on social media. This meant I stopped considering and said yes without hesitation. Here’s why:

  • B Corps forge meaningful connections.
    With their employees, their customers, their communities, their suppliers. 
  • B Corps care about their supply chain.
    They care about the environmental and social sustainability of their suppliers; they care about how the things they use and consume impact people and the planet.
  • B Corps constantly strive to do better.
    The certification and recertification processes are rigorous and they force businesses to recognise areas where they can improve. 
  • B Corps are truly people-focused organisations.
    Part of becoming a B Corp means having a clear understanding of how your practices support and impact your people and everyone else you, or your product/service, touches.
  • B Corps can’t hide (and even if they could, they wouldn’t).
    One of the measures on which B Corps are assessed is transparency. At Redvespa this means meetings aren’t associated with closed doors or power-plays, employees are exposed to different information and are offered opportunities to work on initiatives which support and help shape the business strategy.  
  • B Corps give back.
    It is important to B Corps to have a clear social purpose and for this to be central to how they work.

While my research gave me these insights in to B Corps in general, since starting at Redvespa I have been able to build my own list of things that are awesome about working for a B Corp:

  • Like-minded people.
    I get to work with other people who are as invested in this shift as I am.
  • Sharing the love.
    My peers and I, at times, get the opportunity to work at fabulous organisations who are doing great things in our communities because Redvespa are passionate about supporting organisations who are also doing good things.
  • Redvespa has my back.
    Knowing that when those ‘inconvenient’ things happen, like sick kids, my employer has my back and trusts me to do what I need to, without any drama. 
  • A social purpose that resonates.
    Redvespa’s social purpose focus on supporting young people to develop sound strategies for managing mental health is pretty close to my heart.
  • Connected to the business of the business.
    I don’t just get to hear about the business strategy, I get to connect with it in a way that feels very real and personal.
  • Sustainable high-fives.
    When I’m in our office, I don’t get strange looks for being pedantic about recycling or composting - I get high-fives.

In short, I find that working for a B Corp (and specifically Redvespa) is gratifying on both a professional and a personal level. It feels good to go home each day and know that the team of which I am a part helped contribute to something good. It is exciting to see the B Corp movement grow in New Zealand and I go out of my way to support organisations which have gained certification, knowing how much they have invested in undertaking the certification and assessment journey.

If you want to know more about becoming a B Corp you can find more information here, or just talk to us.

¹ Please Note: sponsoring a stall at a school fair is awesome, please continue doing this.

Chris Johnston is a Redvespa consultant based in Ōtautahi Christchurch. Chris is an experienced business improvement specialist who lives Redvespa's Business for Good Values in all aspects of her busy life.

Header photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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