What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Kids are returning to class, notebooks and charging cords in hand, ready to tap out that first week’s essay, “What I did on my Summer Vacation.” Here’s mine.

It’s title: How and When I Became a B Corp.

Climate Resilience Consulting became a Certified B Corporation this summer. B Corps, a new type of company, uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corp certification is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or LEED is to buildings. 

Climate Resilience Consulting was certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. We evaluated how our practices impact our employees, our community, the environment and our customers.

Today, there are over 2,200 Certified Benefit Corps worldwide, including Unilever, Etsy and Patagonia. We are proud to join them as we share one unifying goal: to redefine success in business: 

·     We want to be a part of building better business, measuring what matters and benchmarking social and environmental impact.

·     We seek contribute to a shared and durable prosperity and strive to be model corporate citizens, serve as leaders in our community and operate transparently.

·     We endeavor to use business as a force for good in the world every day.

How does B Corp fit with our mission?

B Corp certification fits well with our mission. Climate Resilience Consulting exists to create a world with more lives saved and livelihoods enhanced in the face of climate change disruption, especially for those facing disproportionate risks to hazards.

What was our experience with the certification process?

Most people when I mention certification crinkle their nose, shake their heads, and say, “So much work!” A bit, yes, but worth every minute, IMHO. I started my own firm in part to drive greater application of resilience in communities, focusing on solving for the challenges I witnessed governments, nonprofits and companies face as they moved from plans to execution:

·     Building resilience measurement tools.

·     Defining resilience finance frameworks.

·     Crafting resilience-focused networks and nonprofits to create more support for governments and corporations to transform to resilience. 

Each part of the certification process brought me greater clarity and momentum for this work. 

How does being a B Corp distinguish our business?

Climate Resilience Consulting fills an important niche:   

·     We put social equity first. For maximum benefit to society, we prioritize resilience solutions for the most vulnerable. As a Certified B Corp, we aim not just to mitigate climate risk equally but also to build community resilience for less resourced groups, creating more equity. #AdaptationEquity is our 2018 twitter hashtag of choice. 

This part of our work represents an evolution, and we learned a great deal from The Kresge Foundation-sponsored work we led in 2017 that resulted in “Rising to the Challenge Together, a Review and Critical Assessment of the State of the U.S. Adaptation Field,” which defined resilience as including “a bedrock of social equity.” B Corps define themselves by this sort of service to humanity.

·     We are versatile. We have worked in all sectors - corporate (engineering, communications, architecture), local and national government, nonprofit, and university (in the U.S. and in emerging economies in Asia). B Corps are leaders in over 50 sectors and are on the front lines of helping to build change within them and outward to their customers and suppliers.

·     We are trusted advisors, called upon by key stakeholders in the U,S, and around the world to define and push forward resilience. With 40 percent of B Corps outside the U.S. in over 50 countries, B Corp certification enhances the legitimacy and impact of our work.

Which positive practices helped us get certified?

To become a Certified B Corp, Climate Resilience Consulting went through an assessment process to prove we operate based on high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Four major categories are involved in becoming certified as a B Corp:

·     Governance

·     Environment

·     Customers

·     Community

Our most robust scores are in community and customer categories, and we received particular credit for focusing on serving in-need populations and helping our customers improve their social and environmental impact. Our corporate structure – designed to provide significant portions of our profits, equity and time to charitable causes – also earned us lots of points. I’m a pro bono advisor to over 10 global and national resilience-related initiatives, including the Anthropocene Alliance, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, the Climate KIC City Finance Lab, the Climate Bonds Initiative Adaptation and Resilience Expert Group. I take these roles seriously, the initiatives take their work seriously and the B Corp Certification takes it seriously, too. 

To ensure we locked in to all that we are certified for, we modified our operating agreements to integrate language noting our priority to have a material positive impact on society and the environment.

What did the certification process compel us to change?

·     I formalized carbon offsets for my travel through an inset I created with Chicago nonprofit’s Openlands.

·     I shifted my supplier procurement to Chicago-based WBE and Certified B Corp purveyors. 

·     I began to count my hours for mentoring and advising using the trusty Toggl ap that I use for client work and billing. 

As with the best certifications, the process of certifying made us much better.  To learn more about our certification and 2018 report, check out our B Corp profile.