Leveraging Our Strengths 2016



September 29, 2016

Measure What Matters: Your company's social and environmental impact.I was happy to be asked to talk about Certified B Corporations as part of the 2016 Leveraging Our Strengths conference in Ottawa.

With the growing focus on innovation in Canada, it felt good to be surrounded by exploring ways to adopt Social Innovation strategies. It is so encouraging to think about different models which we can organize in order to improve our world.

Ottawa’s Impact Hub was one of the key organizers. I’ve always been impressed with the work of Hubbers and I sit on their Champions Circle to help support their great work. It was an event that the hosted by the Hub that introduced me to B Corp.

Most of the participants of the conference were from either non-profits, foundations or government agencies. Neither of which can become B Corps, as B Labs is specifically targeting businesses. That being said, there is so much overlap and so much that these organizations can learn from business best practices.

My first suggestion to the participants was that the B Impact Assessment is a free tool that anyone can take. Sure, it is geared for business, so some of the fields simply don’t make sense if you are a non-profit. By taking the assessment organizations will be able to get a quick snapshot of things that they are doing well, policies/practices that they might want to improve, and also a deeper understanding of what it means to be a B Corp. There are some great sample questions too.

Since this was an Ottawa event, I highlighted Beau’s & Bullfrog Power & of course our own.

All of the organizations participating were interested in increasing their collective impact. Several people mentioned that they have an informal policy of buying from social enterprises like Krackers Katering which is supported by the United Way & part of the Causeway Group of Social Businesses. Like Good Nature Groundskeeping & Right Bike , these initiatives support people in our community who need a leg up.

Leveraging Our Strengths 2016

B Corporations are a nice extension of this. Organizations working to make a positive impact in our community will only enhance their impact if they have a procurement policy which clearly states that they will look for mission driven companies to serve there needs where possible. There simply aren’t enough B Corporations out there to satisfy all needs of organizations like the United Way. That said, if companies started seeing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) which mentioned that B Corporation status was considered as part of the evaluation criterion, it would do a lot to change that.

Businesses respond to incentives, so individuals and organizations seeking a better world need to demonstrate that the lowest price isn’t the biggest factor in a client’s decision making.


About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.

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