This post was originally published on B Lab's Best for the World publication on Medium.
There’s one thing all Best for the World honorees have in common: they never stop trying to improve. We asked the top-scoring B Corps what practices they’ve implemented recently to create more positive impact. Here are the top 3 issues that they’re tackling — and some resources to help you join them.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Renewable For B Corps that produce consumer products, reducing waste throughout their production process is top of mind. Some start with their input materials. “We hope to increase our impact by using even more recycled materials in our clothing,” said Danique Gunning of MUD Jeans. “Our aim is to make fashion circular.” Elaine Chiang from FIGS was on the same page. “We are constantly striving to incorporate more sustainable practices into the production of our scrubs, like utilizing recycled polyester and organic cotton into our products,” she told us. Other Best for the World honorees are working to make use of their waste. REfficient’s business model is to keep ewaste out of landfills by helping companies resell their used and surplus electronics online, but they’re not stopping there. “Recently we launched a new company division, called evereone,” said REfficient’s Stephanie McLarty. “evereone creates upcycled products from our own waste materials.” Preserving resources wasn’t just on the minds of product companies. Michelle Greenfield broke down how Third Sun Solar increased their score enough to make the Best for the Environment list for the first time in 2015. “We improved our Environmental Impact score last year because we made two big changes. First, we installed solar power on our facility and now produce 68% of our electricity with the clean sun,” she told us. “We also implemented recommendations from a waste audit and improved our score in energy, water and materials use by increasing our recycling and re-use of materials.” Interested in improving your sustainability practices, installing renewable energy systems, or reducing your waste? There are more than a few companies on the Best for the Environment list that can help.
2. Prioritize Employee Wellness Other Best for the World honorees were focusing their efforts on their teams. “In order to improve our B Corp score, we have focused on a variety of efforts, including allotting community service days to our employees,” Andrea Chase of Falcon Waterfree told us. Providing paid time off for community service is a common practice for B Corps looking both to help their employees practice their passions and to build positive relationships with community organizations. Others are focusing on wages and employee ownership, like EcoZoom, a Nairobi social enterprise that provides clean-burning cookstoves and other products for people without reliable access to electricity. “Over the last two years, we’ve improved the most in the Workers category by paying above market wages in Kenya, where the majority of our staff live,” said Amanda West. “We’re also rewarding performance with equity schemes while actively encouraging professional and personal development.” Need help? B Corps that work on employee benefits, volunteering, and wellness programs include BayPoint Benefits, Green Retirement Plans, Emerge Financial Wellness, Social(k), Dimensions in Occupational Health & Safety.
3. Formalize Policies One common result for companies taking the B Impact Assessment is the realization that few of their positive intentions are preserved through company policies or made public to all employees. Even Best for the World honorees are still working on improving their transparency and making sure their mission is preserved. “While we were going through the process, one way we improved our score was to document our policies better,” said Cameron Crake of Raven + Lily. “Even though we are making a large global impact by helping to employ over 1,000 women around the world to make our products, we are still a small team in the US with only 8 employees. There were still some policies about employee welfare that we hadn’t formalized, so it was really helpful for us to look at the B Impact indicators to make those policies official for our team.” For those Best for the World companies that are beginning to grow beyond sole proprietorships and partnerships, building positive policies to last was even more important. “We recently hired our first employee,” Nora Livingstone of Animal Experience International told us, “and we used the B Corp assessment to make sure we could be the most ethical bosses and employers possible.” Want to update your own policies and handbook? Explore the Workers section of the B Impact Assessment online