4 Things We Learned While Applying for a B Corp Certification

One of See3’s company goals for 2015 is to obtain a B Corporation certification, which recognizes companies that use "the power of social business to solve social and environmental problems." What started as a “we’ll-have-this-done-in-a-month” project has become a deeply reflective organizational journey. We’re getting close to completing our application (yay!) but in the collaborative and do-gooder spirit that is the B Corp community, we thought we’d share some tips and surprises we’ve learned on our path to becoming a certified B Corp.

1. There can often be a dissonance between policy and reality

When was the last time you read over your employee handbook? At See3, ours is updated annually, but the B Corp application process brought to light the importance of the handbook as a stand-alone document that should impart not only the required legal components, but should also encompass the voice, culture, and mission of See3. We rewrote language that we thought didn’t capture the voice of our company and added in new language to capture the things that we value, like our Dog-Friendly Office Policy and Maternity and Paternity Leave Policies.

2. It’s important to capture ALL of your benefits

A culture that promotes the mutual well being of the employee and the organization is a key characteristic of B Corps businesses. In revising our handbook, we realized that we were able to articulate several wonderful, B Corp encouraged benefits we have offered to our employees in a way we hadn’t previously. A flexible work environment, telecommuting opportunities, and combined time off has been perks accessible to See3 employees for quite a while, but we hadn’t been deliberate about articulating them until in our handbook now. The end result was a recognition of intangible benefits that much better reflect our company culture.

3. Map your organization and understand the roles and responsibilities within it

The B Corp certification process also encouraged us to look at how our organization was structured, and who is responsible for what. Everyone on our staff is a team player with multiple areas of expertise, and we approach projects with an agile attitude. But as our company grows, we know we need to clearly articulate our structure to new members of the team. We’ve begun the process of updating our organizational chart to reflect our growing team, and are also revising job descriptions for all of the roles needed to make See3 happen so that it’s clear where responsibilities fall. This process is complex and challenging, but in the long run it will strengthen our team and the work we do for nonprofits and social causes.

4. Outside help makes a HUGE difference

Updating our handbook, org chart, and job descriptions are internal tasks that can often take a back seat to client obligations. We knew that if we were going to take this commitment to B Corp certification seriously, we were going to need a coach to get us there. We worked with an outside consultant (yes, even consultants need consultants!) to help us plan out how we were going to achieve our goals and who held us accountable for making progress every single week. The value of having someone outside the company to help move things along during busy times cannot be understated.

Need some help guiding your organization through times of change? We’re good at that. Email our Chief Learning Officer Lisa Colton to find out how See3 partner with your nonprofit on developing an organizational strategy.

Author: Erin Schaeffer
  • B Corp
  • Culture
  • Nonprofits