Pushing Beyond the Low Hanging Fruit on the B Corp Assessment

“How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time”.

Pardon my strange analogy, but I found it fitting for the task at hand (both in writing this article – and participating in this year’s B Corporation Assessment). In taking on the Lead of Better Biz on the IMG Stewardship Council I was tasked with dissecting where we are, and understanding where we need to be using B Lab’s Impact Assessment. If you are a first time reader of our IMG Blog, I highly recommend reading Tim Masson’s “Learning from the B(enefit) Corp Assessment” and “Why be a B? An Open Letter to fellow Business Owners”.

To provide a brief history, we started evaluating ourselves 6 years ago using the B Lab Assessment and great strides were made in our first two biannual assessments. We went from an initial score of 84 to 104. In our second assessment momentum and aspirations were so high – there was even talk of a certain CEO branding himself with a tattoo to commemorate the final figure. Let it be known that we were 0.3 off of making this a reality!

The Stewardship Council during this time had just begun their journey navigating the plains of interdependence. Harvesting policies and practices, understanding metrics, and working within our business model to ‘do better and be better’.

But what do you do when you’ve grabbed all of the low hanging fruit?

This year’s assessment saw a slow climb to 110. This was by no means a disappointment – we celebrated this victory, and I am very satisfied with the final number. The assessment’s purpose isn’t to receive a perfect score (200) – it is to encourage constant re-evaluation. Even when you achieve your best – you can do better. We look to where we want to be, and ask ourselves “What’s the next step?” Making changes isn’t always easy, and some improvements require years of preparation, and small adjustments to build a foundation. Continuous improvement is the goal and connecting to a larger purpose has become a large part of our company culture, social responsibility is inscribed in our DNA.

So how did we make progress this year?

The major shift was inspired by Dennis Bakke’s book “The Decision Maker”. It was such a game changer that our first companywide offsite was spent in a dedicated workshop – understanding what Bakke refers to as the ‘The Advice Process’. The Underlying Principal: TRUST – every employee is capable of making decisions. The problem: traditional companies do not allow the people who understand the situation most intimately to make the decision to resolve or change. The solution:  change the culture around making decisions and apply the guiding principles. The result: more people are engaged, invested/feel ownership and accountability to a decision.

What did this book have to do with our assessment? The entire Company was charged with the mission to put Bakke’s principals into practice. The outcome is that I can think of two decisions or “advice processes” that my co-workers undertook that directly impact our assessment.

One decision was decided by an up and coming recruiter who took up the challenge of deciding whether to pursue a meaningful sabbatical during a critical time in her career. The outcome of her decision has opened the door for others to pursue once in a lifetime opportunities, while knowing that their place at IMG will remain intact.

assessment questions

Another instance of how an Advice Process will affect our Assessment is regarding the decision to NOT renew the lease at our Head Office. In 2017 our Head Office will be moving to an accredited LEED building. The research and preparation to make the move started in the Fall of 2015 – and planning continues. This is a perfect example of how change and improvement can take time and effort before you can reap the benefits. Although this decision hasn’t impacted this year’s assessment it will impact future ones.

Other exciting pursuits/changes holding future promise:

The IMG Green Team. A group of passionate individuals across our Company committed to decreasing our environmental footprint and establishing policy and commitments to benefit the planet.

– Our Head Office has started using a unique local composting service providing quarterly diversion reporting, and producing a bio fertilizer which is returned for recreation uses (fertilizing our personal gardens).

– Our HR department is currently pursuing a program to track and report on corporate diversity.

So back to my opening line: how do you eat an elephant? Constantly improving can only be accomplished one way: one bite at a time. The larger goal of being better is the aim, but having incremental goals along the way maintains and embeds progress. No Company could eat the elephant in one sitting; indigestion would be inevitable.