A Sustainable Design Blog
Yeeeehaw! Modern Species Is Now A Certified B Corporation!
After many years of starting and stopping the certification process, we’re thrilled to announce that Modern Species is now a Certified B Corp! To understand how we feel, imagine compostable confetti bursting out of giant recyclable party poppers as we break into a happy dance choreographed to Party Rock Anthem. Yeah. It’s that awesome.
We’ve been thinking about certifying since our inception, but finally started the process in early 2017 when we broke down and hired a contract project manager, Jake, who among other things, was tasked with measuring / documenting our impact for the B Corp Assessment. We made great progress with Jake and only had a few things left to document before submitting, but then his contract ended, he moved on to his next contact, and we got busy. After a six month delay we finally finished the remaining documentation and pulled the trigger on submitting our assessment for review. A short while later we had a great meeting with the B Corp team who answered our questions and asked for some additional documents, after which we got busy again. Yet another 6 months later we pulled Jen, former partner and current PhD student, back in during her summer break from school to help finish the last bit of documentation needed and paid our lawyers to edit our operating agreement to incorporate the necessary B Corp language. We then submitted those documents, had everything reviewed again, submitted additional documentation that was requested, and then finally got approved and just signed the B Lab Agreement for B Corporation Certification. Wooohoooo!
To be certified, a business must have an impact score of at least 80 points out of 200. We scored 88.8 points, which is respectable considering the median score is 50.9 points, but we already have our eyes set on improving our score.
How It’s Measured:
B Corp measures your business’s impact in five areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. We scored pretty well in Workers and Community because of our relatively great work environment, employee benefits, charitable giving, and commitment to impact in our community. We struggled to find relevant ways to gain significant points in the other categories though, largely due to our business type (services), our entity (LLC), and our customers (businesses, not people). For example, we found that it was a bit difficult to score many points in Governance because we’re too small to have things like investors and regular reporting, and we’re not the right entity to have a governing body, like a board. We missed opportunities to gain points in the Environment section because we don’t make a product that has inputs and outputs and don’t get credit for having a neutral impact, nor for helping other companies be more sustainable, apparently. Lastly, we only did okay in the Customers section because we don’t sell anything direct to consumer and therefore our “customers” (clients) don’t fit into the underserved or in-need category—though our clients often support those demographics with their businesses. So while we made the cut, we also found some areas to improve and found some limitations of our business model for impact, or at least the way the impact is measured with B Corp.
In case you’re curious, the cost of certification was $1000 for our size of business ($150K-$1.9MM). This seems like a great deal considering how much work they invest in the review / audit and how much work it takes to build and maintain a certification like this—though it’s not a small sum either. It’s just sad that we tax good businesses to prove they’re good instead of rewarding businesses for doing the right thing or charging / penalizing businesses who chose to do the wrong thing in exchange for profit. But I digress.
Our Next Steps:
We’re not stopping here. We’ve already identified some areas for improvement and have even accomplished a thing or two on the list. So from here, we’ll be setting growth / improvement goals to work on quarterly and we hope to tip well into the 90s next year, and the 100s the following year. We’ll follow back up with specific goals and our progress in future posts.
Many thanks to the B Corp team for all the hard work on this certification and for answering all our questions along the way.
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A HUGE shout out to our clients and employees who make all the good work we do possible. We’re honored and excited to continue on our growth path with you.
Gage Mitchell is the Principal / Creative Director at Modern Species. For more posts from him, click here.