8 Things We’ve Learned Since Becoming B Corp Certified

  • Operations

It’s been about eight months since we received our B Corp Certification, and it’s been a journey filled with celebrating, learning, reflecting, and making changes that affect the triple bottom line — people, profit, and the planet. And it’s really just beginning!

Receiving the Certification meant a lot to our team, as it recognized the work we had done to build a responsible business that deeply considers our workers, suppliers, local communities, clients, and the environment. Being a B Corp brings an even deeper sense of pride and gratitude, as it’s a long-term commitment to continuous learning and improvement alongside a diverse group of talented people who care about the same things we do.

We didn’t really have any expectations about how the Certification would impact Plank day-to-day, and we couldn’t be more grateful for all of the opportunities it has brought us, the knowledge we have gained, and the incredible community of B Corps that continue to challenge us to be the best version of ourselves. 

BLOG: Plank is officially a Certified B Corporation!

It’s B Corp Month!

March is an exciting month for a lot of mission-driven companies, as it’s B Corp Month! We are proud to celebrate this powerful moment alongside the global B Corp community to help build awareness of the movement, highlight some of the companies that are using their business as a force for good, and educate diverse audiences on the importance of transforming the economic system.

This year, B Lab is celebrating the month with the #WeGoBeyond campaign to showcase the incredible work B Corps are doing across the globe as they pursue an impactful path that goes above and beyond for all people and the planet. 

In honour of B Corp Month, we thought it was only fitting to be transparent about some of the things we’ve learned about ourselves, the B Corp community, and how this Certification has impacted different areas of our business — so here are eight lessons we’ve learned in the past eight months!

Lesson #1: The B Corp Community is truly inspiring.

Since the start of our Certification journey, our team has definitely become more distinctly aware of other B Corps online, on the grocery store shelves, on products we own, and in our day-to-day lives. 

It’s so cool to see that a lot of B Corps prioritize innovation and creativity in finding sustainable solutions to complex social and environmental challenges. They have shown us that, by embracing a culture of innovation and experimentation, we can create new and more sustainable ways of doing business.

The B Corp community continues to amaze us, so we wanted to showcase a few of the ones that have inspired us in unique and impactful ways —

Wholegrain Digital — We are really encouraged by Wholegrain Digital, a WordPress agency in the UK that shares a lot of the same expertise, values, and mission as Plank. As true leaders in web sustainability, they have taken their commitment to make the Internet a better space for all to a whole new level. Between their sustainable web design processes, resources, and accomplishments — including a published Sustainable Web Design book — they are doing some truly impactful work. They even developed the first-ever Digital Carbon Footprint Calculator that we use for our own clients to estimate a web page’s carbon emissions. Mastering innovation, social and environmental responsibility, and collaboration, they are definitely a company we are proud to support.

Patagonia — One of my personal favourites, alongside other Plank employees, is the one and only, Patagonia. This one doesn’t need much explaining because of its well-known name and proven impact on sustainability, but it definitely deserves a shoutout. They are a role model for taking action and continuously improving to make their business — and the planet — more eco-friendly. They were the first California company to become certified over a decade ago, and have long championed a simple waste-free supply chain to create products that rest on function, reparability, and foremost, durability. Plus, they look great and cater to the everyday comfy outfit or the long ski day! 

Fatso — One of our recent grocery store finds was this delicious nut butter filled with nutrients and it won’t break the bank! As a public benefit company, they seek to provide a benefit to the community at large by using their power, public profile, and product to openly discuss social justice matters and empower underrepresented communities in tangible ways. They have established and supported some incredibly impactful programs, such as the Trans Refugee Support Project where they provide safe housing and materials to trans refugees in Kenya and Uganda,  the LGBTQ+ Youth Pride Grant which provides $1000 to an aspiring artist, business person, or activist to help them pursue their goals, and they even donated over $200,000 worth of product to food banks, communities, and organizations in need during the COVID 19 pandemic. Plus, we absolutely love that they’re 75% women-owned and 75% female-staffed!

Fully — Fully is our preferred supplier of seated and standing desks, ergonomic aids, and screen suspension for our Montreal office space and employee home office setups. With environmentally friendly manufacturing, packaging, and recycling practices, alongside their admirable DEI commitments, community programs, and top-tier customer service team, we recommend Fully to anyone looking to upgrade their office space. Their high-quality products and empathetic team definitely live up to their understanding of the connection between a healthy body, a healthy mind, a healthy business, and a healthy world.

Phil — As a fellow Montreal-based B Corp that works with socially-minded organizations and businesses, we are always proud to see the work that Phil does. What most people don’t know is that they actually played a huge role in our push to pursue B Corp Certification. We met with Phil’s Founder & CEO, Kim Fuller, when I first started at Plank and her passion for the company, the missions of the clients they work with, and the B Corp community as a whole radiated through the Zoom call. I got off that meeting and knew that it was something Plank had to finally pursue, as we shared so many of the same values and interests in using business as a force for good. If you’re looking for a humble team of experts to elevate your organization’s communication efforts, Phil is great to meet with!

Lesson #2: Job seekers are looking for purpose.

When we received our B Corp Certification, we did not anticipate how many candidates would discover Plank or seek to work with us because of our commitment to social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. We have been so impressed by the quality of talent we have seen throughout all disciplines and it makes us proud to hear that people want to work with us because their values and goals are aligned with our own. 

We are excited to see that many job seekers today are looking for companies that align with their personal values and beliefs. Because it’s a recognized symbol of ethical and sustainable practices with rigorous standards, the B Corp stamp adds a layer of confidence to job candidates that a company is really committed to social and environmental responsibility. We have learned this firsthand through candidates we’ve interviewed who frequently bring up their appreciation for our transparency, values, and commitment to using our business as a force for good.

We always strive to work with talented people from diverse backgrounds who share the same values as we do, so we’re extremely grateful that B Corp Certification has only amplified this. There’s a reason we scored highest in the Workers category of our assessment, and that’s because investing in our people is what keeps the company running, and it’s something that Plank’s ownership cares deeply about for employee well-being and career advancement.

Lesson #3: Clients care about social responsibility.

We have learned that by aligning our business goals with our mission, we can attract and retain clients and partners who share our values and want to make a difference in the world.  It’s pretty clear that organizations are becoming more and more interested in supporting and partnering with businesses that are committed to sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical practices. 

We have been finding and receiving many Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for website projects that often require bidders to disclose their practices and policies on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, sustainability, and Corporate Social Responsibility. That means a lot to us because we strive to work with clients that prioritize these practices, and it’s always a good sign that their partner selection criteria will factor these in beyond our portfolio, costs, and expertise. Being a B Corp has not only allowed us to stand out in a competitive RFP process for socially and environmentally responsible organizations, but it has also allowed us to connect with clients with incredible missions, values, and goals — American Rivers and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation being two recent partners that we are very proud and grateful to work with.

Lesson #4: Every decision counts.

Becoming a B Corp has reinforced the importance of having a clear and compelling purpose beyond just building beautiful websites. It means committing to making decisions that balance profit with purpose. From the products we use to the suppliers and clients we choose to work with, every choice that our team makes has an impact on the world around us. 

Although we’ve always had the mentality of making responsible decisions that go beyond profit, this journey has really reinforced the sense of responsibility that we have to consider the people, community and environment around us. Of course, profit is still top-of-mind, as it allows us to keep doing the work we do, invest in our team, and provide high-quality work for our clients and partners. It’s balancing profit with people and the planet that allows us to more closely align our business goals with our values, and to make a positive impact on society through the work we love doing, for organizations we are passionate about.

Social responsibility can be integrated into all aspects of a business — from hiring practices and employee benefits to marketing and customer stewardship. We have learned that by engaging with our employees, clients, partners, suppliers, and community, we can better understand their perspectives and needs, and make more informed decisions that benefit everyone.

Lesson #5: There is so much power in collaboration.

As a B Corp, we have access to a global network of like-minded businesses and organizations. We have learned that collaborating with other B Corps can amplify our impact and achieve more together than we could on our own. With our world facing some of the biggest crises and challenges of our time, our efforts may be impactful, but they certainly won’t transform the economic system on their own. That’s why the B Corp community is so important, as we prioritize collaboration for collective action.

We have definitely felt a strong sense of pride, community, and connection between B Corps. It kind of feels like the “Jeep wave” when two Jeep drivers have that friendly greeting as they drive past each other. While not exactly the same, I get excited when I see another B Corp product on store shelves or even when discovering new B Corps as I scroll through my LinkedIn feed. There is so much knowledge and trust in the B Corp community, that by working together, we can continue to drive meaningful change and drive social and environmental progress at a larger scale. 

We really look forward to the opportunity to collaborate more and more with other B Corps, whether that be partnering on website projects, coming together at events and conferences, or even when choosing new suppliers.  There are endless opportunities to collaborate, share best practices, and amplify our missions and values amongst the B Corp community, alongside our people, partners, clients, and the general public.

Lesson #6: It’s essential to measure impact.

Tracking metrics is not easy but it’s a necessity to understand where we stand and where we need to improve. This was one of the hardest parts of the certification process and something that we are still learning how to do efficiently and effectively. 

By setting measurable goals and tracking our progress toward social and environmental performance, we can hold ourselves accountable to our mission and values and continuously improve our performance. Tracking metrics can lead to meaningful change — whether it be related to our environmental sustainability efforts, diversity, equity and inclusion practices, community involvement, and so much more. 

While the B Impact Assessment (BIA) is a great tool for measuring your impact to achieve B Corp Certification, it also provides a framework for sustainable change in the long term. It has helped us identify where we’re doing well, where we need to improve, where we stand in relation to our industry and other B Corps, and how to measure our impact. Although we haven’t mastered that just yet, we continue to learn and find our groove because we know that tracking progress will only motivate us more and allow for greater transparency.

We took the first step in measuring and sharing our impact back in January with Plank’s first-ever Annual Impact Report. This really helped us set a standard year after year, challenging ourselves to keep innovating for environmental and social impact, and being transparent about what we’re doing, and what we could be doing better. Although we’ll be sharing about our sustainable change journey along the way, we are committed to reflecting on our efforts each year and sharing these reports for added transparency and accountability.

BLOG: The Plank 2022 Annual Impact Report

Lesson #7: The BIA is a valuable resource for every company.

Although B Lab’s B Impact Assessment (BIA) is used as the basis for certification, we have since come to realize that we could have used the assessment a long time before even thinking about becoming a B Corp. 

The BIA provides an incredible framework for measuring and improving your impact on any area of your business — your workforce, customers, community, internal governance practices, and the environment. Because the questions in the BIA are streamlined to your specific business, industry, and company size, there are so many ideas and tangible solutions within the questions themselves that can inspire your team to improve your business’s social and environmental practices. 

We would suggest that every company — no matter where you are in your sustainable journey — take advantage of the free BIA to help you seek opportunities for improvement. Any action toward driving positive change is a step in the right direction for your company, the community you serve, the economy, and the planet.

Lesson #8: B Corp Certification is just the beginning.

We knew this one before starting our journey, but it really hit home the day we received our official certification email, and immediately asked ourselves “now what?” 

While becoming a B Corp is a significant achievement, it really is just the beginning of our journey toward becoming a more socially responsible business and creating a more sustainable and equitable future. The world is constantly changing and there is always room for growth so we need to regularly assess our impact and business practices to ensure that we live up to our values and our B Corp commitment. 

We have a lot of work to do to improve certain areas of the business, starting with the environment! We are currently working together as a team to evaluate our environmental practices within our physical office space and in consideration of remote employees, and we will develop and execute an action plan in the coming months. We are also regularly evaluating and improving our policies, practices, and responsible initiatives across all areas of Plank. 

Continuous improvement is not a choice — we have a lot to learn in all five impact areas, and a massive community of B Corps to learn from and collaborate with. We know that by investing in our own learning and development, we will expand our knowledge and stay up-to-date on best practices in sustainability and social impact. We are committed to continuous improvement and finding new ways to drive positive change.

Becoming B Corp certified is a huge point of pride for the company and me personally. This shows that we collectively believe in using our work as a driver for good in our everyday lives, our communities, and, to a certain extent, the world. The certification process made us look inwards and ask ourselves questions we may have never previously thought of; this newfound perspective has also allowed us to make better decisions for the direction we hope to move in in the future.

Luke Largin, People & Operations Coordinator

This certification demonstrates our commitment to using our business as a force for good and making a positive impact on society and the environment. But being a B Corp is more than just a label — it’s a mindset that requires us to regularly take a step back, reflect on our practices and our impact, and commit to continuous learning and improvement.

We are proud to celebrate B Corp Month, and we will continue the conversation to help inspire and hopefully encourage other businesses to prioritize social and environmental impact. We know that we can’t do it alone, so we look forward to meeting and collaborating with people and organizations whose goals and values align with our own. With collective action, we can work toward a more sustainable and just world.