BLOG: Business as a Force for Better

Blog by  Vicki Bohlsen of Bohlsen Group 

No one in their right mind gets excited about having to fill out the same paperwork year after year, right? Well, I’m right there with you, except in one case: B Corp recertification.

Every couple of years, Bohlsen Group has to go through a recertification process to maintain its B Corp status with B Lab (http://www.bcorporation.net) and I actually look forward to it. Why? Because it offers us a chance to review the impact we’ve made and make changes so we can continue to improve. We recently went through our third recertification process.

First off, let me tell you a little bit about B Corp companies. Certified B Corps are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. Certified companies are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on all of their non-shareholder stakeholders: their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.

Currently, there are more than 3,400 companies in 150 industries in more than 70 countries certified. And it keeps growing, likely because B Lab offers resources for this like-minded tribe of people who want to use business as a force for good.

Honored with a 2020 World’s Most Innovative Company by Fast Company, B Lab’s quick response to the fundamental injustice, inequity and violence that disproportionately impacts Black people and People of Color, for instance, was unprecedented. I find myself visiting their resources nearly every day so that I can learn and hear from others in the B Corp family on how they are addressing this most important issue and others.

Having recently gone through the recertification process, I have set some new goals for Bohlsen Group.

Bohlsen Group will continue to pay team members for four volunteer hours to the organization of their choice, but I am committed to helping each team member find a fit for their volunteerism. I think this will be especially important in the coming months as we are still facing the challenging times associated with living in a pandemic. Our volunteerism may have to change considerably, but now more than ever our efforts are needed.

Because we are working from home – and for how long no one knows – I am encouraging team members to continue to recycle, reduce and reuse. I am currently in the process of creating a guide for each team member that is exclusive to their household. These personalized guides will have information on what can be picked up curbside and where and when to take all other items; what office products are made from recycled products and are recyclable; and suggestions on other sustainably focused retailers and restaurants in their community.

We’d like to become as carbon neutral as possible. Certainly, we’ll be additive by keeping track of how much we’ll offset by working from home instead of traveling downtown to an office every day, but how else can we make an impact? Perhaps I will have employees calculate their household carbon footprint and Bohlsen Group will pay their fee to offset it.

I’d like to be impactful in the areas of inequality and injustice in Indianapolis and beyond. As a company, how can we listen, learn and act? In our annual company survey, I will be asking questions specific to this important topic so that we can collectively create a road map of activity.

We will be measuring our impact in all of these areas so that when recertification rolls around again we can evaluate our impact and assess what we can do to improve in the coming years.

To hear how other companies – B Corp certified or not – are setting goals in the area of social responsibility and impact, listen to past episodes of “Taking Care in Business.”