It’s been just over two weeks since members of our team traveled to Burlington, Vermont for the 2014 B Corp Retreat aptly themed, “Deeper Roots, Stronger Branches.” Not your typical “conference,” the retreat was an inspired gathering of people who expect more of business, by doing more themselves. If you haven’t had the chance to learn about what it means to be a B Corp, you can always refer to http://www.bcorporation.net
As a certified B Corporation, Brand Cool and several hundred companies (1,128 B Corporations 35 Countries 121 Industries) around the world promise to use business as a force for good. And while that may very well sound lofty or vague, it is there official assessment that helps any organization, large or small, break down and measure their impact, whether they want to be come a B corp or not. For those of us who have gone through the assessment, been graded and eventually certified, we have two years until we have re-certify in the hope that we’ve improved our score and the level of sustainability we bring to our community and clients. The assessments are administered by B Lab, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves a global movement of entrepreneurs using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
As a result of our collective success, individuals and communities will enjoy greater economic opportunity, society will address its most challenging environmental problems, and more people will find fulfillment by bringing their whole selves to work. – B Lab
The retreat was a whirlwind of meeting diverse people, with diverse backgrounds, who have all realized there is more to business than just the bottom line. It’s been hard to distill the level of inspiration we found, but rather than just tell you, “you had to be there,” we thought we show you some highlights and some brand spankin’ new resources you can access in the hope you’ll want to find out more and join the movement yourself.
The perfect example of what a B Corp can do has to start with our friends at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
…and boy did we, fresh off the line in fact. But what you also see is a company dedicated to putting the best ingredients it can into its products. It also works very hard to remind everyone they have a right to know what goes into their food too. Enter “Labelize It,” just one of the their GMO campaigns we learned of while we were there. As a company, they provided printed information reminding Oregonians to vote with their health in mind, educating them on what GMO is and why they should know, and finally, some coupons to show we can all be friends over a pint of ice cream.
One of the best features that set this retreat apart is that, everyone, is always in the same room, together. Even breakout sessions happen in the same space and for me at least, I never felt disconnected or that I had to choose between one learning experience over another. In the back of this photo is one of the “trees” in which we were challenged to write on “leaves” what we were going to do to either further the movement or improve our own B Corp standing. By day one, the trees were already filled, a lot of good intentions I knew the people in the room were actually going to work toward achieving, ourselves included.
At the beginning of 2014, the #BtheChange campaign was officially launched and from what we learned, people are really starting to pay attention.
… and learned from others who do the same everyday in a fantastic TED Talk style morning at the historic Flynn Theater. Highlights included:
- The Freelancer’s Union
- Beneficial State Bank
- W.S. Badger Company, Inc.
- And so many more!
After a few more sessions that day, everyone was given the chance to get out in the Burlington community to help a bevy of local community organizations and projects.
We had the opportunity to help with Beautify Earth’s #BTGMural project that “creates public and private art projects utilizing overlooked sources such as blighted walls, fixtures and streets for the purpose of instilling community pride in impoverished or neglected communities.”
And then, the last day we were in Vermont we had some time in the morning to explore and came upon a quote that was inscribed on the side of a brick building downtown. I did not think it was a coincidence in the least. So to understand the movement, remember this quote, check out these new resources, and please feel free to get in touch with us if you want more information.