After seven months, and many hours of work by a cross-functional group of Campers, Culture Amp became B Corp Certified in October 2017. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, Method, and Seventh Generation have been B Corps for years.
It’s not a simple certification, especially for a small company. Working towards B Corp certification was like a second job for a number of us. The process highlighted organizational strengths we were aware of as well key gaps we could focus on improving, ultimately guiding us toward operating more sustainably.
I might have been one of the first people in our company to push for B Corp certification but the idea quickly gained traction and buy-in across the organization. Working with a cross-functional team of volunteers internally was a great way to move things forward, and we learned a lot along the way. Here are three things that helped us in our process towards becoming B Corp certified that can help you in your journey.
1. Identify an executive sponsor and a driver of the initiative
Like any change initiative, it is crucial that leadership is bought-in. I wanted to go through the certification process from the day I joined Culture Amp and raised it with our CEO, Didier, in my interview. We had a great conversation in which he encouraged me to learn more about the certification process and share back with him. Having an executive sponsor was crucial to ensuring we asked the right questions. When we were ready to be certified, there was a clear business case for doing so.
An initiative like this requires planning and a fair amount of coordination across the business, so it is important to also find someone in your business who is willing to drive the certification process. I joined Culture Amp because the company was creating software to help make work a better place to be. To me, the process of becoming B Corp certified was a way to highlight the great things we were doing to help our customers and community while also enabling us to learn where we can operate more sustainably. The driver of the initiative does not need to be someone with a background in CSR or a focus on sustainability in their job - for example, I am a People Scientist. It can be anyone who cares enough to lead the initiative.
2. Prioritize learning about your company’s impact
Take this opportunity to use the assessment to learn more about your company’s social and environmental impact. The assessment provided us with a great framework for learning about how sustainable our operations were. As we completed the assessment, we could see our impact score shift. We learned what areas if addressed, would have the greatest impact. We were able to provide well-informed guidance to Culture Amp Leadership on resources and changes needed help us become certified.
Through the certification process, we were able to flag a number of areas that would require more significant changes, in particular around our environmental impact and supply chain management. Many of these areas remain opportunities for us today but it is great to have them noted in the assessment. We do go back and review them as business opportunities arise. For example, we are currently building a new office space for our headquarters in Melbourne and are able to reference some of these longer-term impact goals to make more informed decisions about what to include in that build out.
3. Align responsibilities with expertise and interest
The design of the assessment facilitates sharing responsibilities. With our cross-functional team spread around the world, we needed to divide tasks and work asynchronously. We split each part of the assessment and matched it wherever possible to internal experts. For example, members of our People and Experience team helped us answer questions relating to the Workers section of the assessment and the Finance team played an important role in helping us track down the necessary metrics to answer questions in both the Governance and Workers sections. We learned that in matching experts in our business to specific parts of the assessment, we worked more efficiently and facilitated learning in our business where action could be taken.
While we didn’t have resident experts on many of the topics within the community and environment sections, we had team members interested in learning more in those areas and they volunteered to track down as many responses as possible. We made some great progress in these areas, and our impact report shows where we have more progress and work ahead of us.
I am proud to work at a certified B Corp, and I know I’m not the only one. There are a number of B Corps that use Culture Amp to measure employee engagement. We have aggregated that data to compare employee engagement at B Corps versus other companies - stay tuned for another article showcasing these key differences.