Proudly sponsored by: Victoria’s Small Business Festival
In this podcast episode of In The Company, we chat with Alicia Darvall, the executive director of global partners for B Lab. B Lab is a non-profit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the Best FOR the World® and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity.
B Lab drives change by building a community of Certified B Corporations to make it easier for all of us to tell the difference between genuinely “good companies” and good marketing. Today, there are more than 1,200 Certified B Corps from 41 countries and 121 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
This episode is bought to you by Victoria’s Small Business Festival, happening across the state from in August and early September 2017. Check out festival.business.vic.gov.au to access over 500 free and affordable events to elevate, support and inspire you and your business.
Kylie: You’re listening to In the Company, a podcast about humanising work and designing better working lives. Each episode is curated to provoke you to think more deeply about things that matter in your career and life, and how to build your toolkit for how to thrive as a human in business today. We explore how we work from the inside out. I’m Kylie Lewis, and it’s great to be in your company. Welcome.
Today we’re in the company of Alicia Darvall, the executive director of Global Partners for B Lab. B Lab is a non-profit organisation that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. It’s vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be best in the world, but best for the world, and as a result, society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity. B Lab drives changes by building a community of certified B corporations. To make it easier for us all to tell the difference between genuinely good companies and good marketing.
Today there are more than 2,000 certified B corps from 51 countries, all working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
Alicia: Thank you very much, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Kylie: As a key player in a truly change making business, it’s a real delight to be in your company today, and I’m looking forward to talking to you about the role or purpose in business, but before we get stuck into that, I’d really like to learn a little bit more about who you are, and particularly what you loved doing as a child and maybe how that contributes to what you do today.
Alicia: Absolutely. It’s a pleasure to be here, thank you very much. When I was a child I led a fairly structured life as children frequently do, but what I loved most was the opportunity to explore, the opportunity to be left to my own devices, to go to new places, to talk to new people. I was always really stimulated by new ideas and people who weren’t following mainstream paths. I think I struggled as a kid in life in the 70s and 80s to find role models, and so it really wasn’t until I left school that my eyes were opened to the multitude of opportunities and pathways that people took to find what they loved in their lives.
Kylie: Fantastic. And so now you’ve got that opportunity in the role that you have because it’s quite an entrepreneurial role in a business that’s only existed for a little while and has some great opportunity for you to explore and discover in that. So just based on where you are today, what are some of the driving beliefs that you have? What would be three core beliefs that you have in the work that you do today?
Alicia: I’m a huge believer in integrity. I am strongly believe in telling the truth even though it’s not always the easy path. And I’m incredibly loyal.
Kylie: So we were talking just before we went on air that you’ve been in this … with B Labs for a few years but the role has kept changing. So that loyalty has obviously served you well as the organisation’s grown. And it is an organisation that’s rooted in integrity and being honest and telling the truths to business. So maybe we could jump into that. For listeners that don’t actually understand, or maybe haven’t heard of B Labs and B Corps before, let’s jump into that. What exactly is B Lab?
Alicia: B Lab is a not-for-profit that serves B Corps. And B Corps are businesses that have put their social environment or mission at the core of what they do, and they hold themselves to a greater degree of accountability around their transparency, their governance, how they work with their employees, community, and the environment. So mostly B Corps are for-profit businesses run by people who are trying to change the world using business as a [inaudible 00:04:22] mechanism. And B Lab is the not-for-profit that serves them.
Kylie: Yes, and where did it originate?
Alicia: B Lab was launched 10 years ago in the States by three guys who used to own a basketball sneaker company called And 1, two of them did. And they grew this basketball sneaker company straight out of university to a multi-million dollar company that was competing with the likes of Nike and Reebok. And they found as they grew a business with purpose that was very values-aligned, that had great childcare on-site, they used to build basketball courts in developing nations, had really strong employee values, as they were growing the business and taking on investment, they realised they’d got this business to a size that they no longer wanted to run. But as they were at the point of exit, they found that the investors who had been investing in them along the way to scale their business, were less and less interested in them returns to their stakeholders, and they really wanted them to drive as much of a profit motive as possible.
So as they got to the sales table, they were acquired by their investors to slim down a lot of the purpose-driven work they were doing. And then when they actually sold the business at great profit, I’m sure. I’ve never actually found out what that is, they then found that the people who’d bought the company really stripped all the purpose out of the business. And it just became a brand. And what they worked out was that there had to be another way for purpose-driven business to scale, and they believed, and B Lab was founded on the idea that there are a number of systemic issues that means that business is a force for good, can achieve it’s ultimate aim at scale.
And so B Lab sets are [back 00:06:22] to address two of those key issues, and one of those is the lack of credible standards. So how do you as a consumer, as an employee, as a supplier know that the business is actually walking the talk, and not just brainwashing? And the other major issue, which is becoming increasingly fascinating in today’s marketplace, is how do you provide an opportunity for the purpose to be embedded into the company at the long term. And so what we know is that as a founder starts a business when they have the first five, the first 10, the first 15 staff, they can hold the purpose and hold the space. But as they take on investment partners and so forth, how do you make sure that the purpose of your business stays true? And we believe that that needs, that need must be met by changing the kind of business that you’re operating.
And so B Lab is pursuing a new legal form, globally, and this legal form is called the Benefit Company. And what it allows a founder to do is to embed the purpose of their company into their constitution, embed a general purpose which requires a return to stakeholders as well shareholders, expand the director’s duties, to encourage directors to make decisions that are both advantageous to the non-financial stakeholders and the shareholders, and then finally requires them to report back to those stakeholders every year. And we believe this Benefit Company structure is vital for purpose-driven business to scale.
Kylie: It’s so fascinating to me that that’s the story of how B Labs came to be, because I have seen it before where great businesses have been started by people who really care about what they do, and the caring factor in what they do is actually what makes it successful, and yet when they get bought out, it’s that care factor that … that’s the most valuable part of the asset, which then gets ripped out. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. It’s a heartbreaking … so it’s fascinating to see that out of that that they leveraged to say, “Hang on, there must be a better way to do that.”
So the B in B Labs stands for Benefits?
Alicia: That’s right.
Alicia: Yes, yeah, and B corps.
Kylie: Yeah, and so you mentioned about the standards but I also just want to, in some research I was doing, I wanted to go back to and just ask about the Declaration of Interdependence that seems embedded in the root of the what the business is about.
Alicia: For sure and I guess that’s when, it harks back to its American roots, huh?
Kylie: Yeah, that’s right.
Alicia: And so every B Corps as they certify sign a Declaration of Interdependence. And that is about the importance of business operating within community and not in a vacuum, and also business’s responsibility to the environment, the employee, and to their supplies and so forth. And so it’s really encouraging business owners to think about every aspect of the community that their business touches. And after 10 years we’ve got our next Champions Retreat in October in Toronto, and the whole thing at the Champion’s Retreat is interdependence, and so as we see our scale both B Corps and economy, we really think it’s time to touch back on everything that a business does and everything it touches, what it’s environmental impacts are, what social impacts are.
And last year’s Champion’s Retreat was themed around diversity inclusion, and so we released a whole lot of metrics and tools to help companies really embed diversity meaningfully into their company, and this year we’re gonna be looking at much more how we can really address the environmental impacts of business.
Kylie: Fantastic. I want to come back to what it would be likely to break into B Corp as opposed to to another kind of business a bit later. But before that, so B Lab oversees the certification of B Corporations. So what does it take for an organisation to become B Corps certified?
Alicia: What an organisation needs to do is log onto our impact assessment, which is free and confidential, and so any company can do it. And we encourage any business to think of it as a robust tool to really embed that purpose into their organisation, or even just to think about their stakeholder impact. And it’s quite an impressive tool for innovation. For a business, particularly a SMB, small to medium business who doesn’t have consultants on tap, who doesn’t necessarily stop down tools and think about how they can better increase their workflow or productivity or impact. So you log onto the impact assessment.
There’s roughly 200 questions. It takes roughly 90 minutes to three hours to do a quick run-through of the impact assessment, which is what we recommend. And it asks a multitude of questions. It’s a holistic impact assessment, and so we ask you questions around government transparency, employees environment and community, and whether or not you have an impact business model. And those questions tease out things like what’s the ratio between the highest paid staff member and the lowest? Have you thought about green power? What is your impact through the suppliers that you choose? Do you buy from women-owned businesses? Do you buy from social enterprise? Do you buy locally? And a whole lot of questions which really are terrible constructive for any business I also like the questions around whether or not you have a volunteering policy for your employees. Just some really good ways to think about what you are doing.
And so you go through the impact assessment, once you get to 80 points, which is the magic base number to become a B Corp, you then press submit, and our standards associates reach out to you and ask you whether or not you’re interested in becoming a B Corp. They require you to upload some documentation to prove that you’re doing what you say you’re doing. Then you have a 90 minute review call. During that review call the standards associate goes all the way through questionnaire with you, checks to see if you’ve understood the question, answer them the way they think you should. And then they’ll ask you for some more documents to support that you’re doing what you say you’re doing. Once you go through that process, you then become a certified B Corp. It takes somewhere between two and six months just given the likely pits and troughs of the process, but the reality is that it’s about I would reckon somewhere between five and 10, 20 hours of work depending on whether or not you are a purpose drive company.
Kylie: I actually started the process a couple of weeks ago, and the first question is, “Upload your mission.” And I was like, “I’ve got one,” but it make me actually go back, as you said, in lieu of sitting down with a consultant, it actually prompted me to go back and kind of look at that in a more concise fashion and think, “From where I started the business to where I am now, how has that changed?” And, “Is this where I see it going?” So already, in that very first moment, I was like this is really super helpful in just guiding me in a way that, to think about the kinds of things that I [inaudible 00:13:28] want my business to be representing which is interesting. So I look forward to kind of digging into that to be fair though.
What would you say is a benefit of being a B Corp? There’s probably not just one benefit is there?
Alicia: No, there’s more than two benefits. So the impact assessment is rigorous, and time consuming. But what I think it does is it embeds your purpose and vision for your company all the way through the company. So it provides a robustness to your business so it’s not all [lanked 00:13:56] on the founder. But the excellent benefit is this willingness to contribute to community. So the B Corp community is thriving in Australia. There’s 190 B Corps, 180 are in Australia and some in New Zealand, and there’s a [bit much 00:14:13] of B Corps in Victoria alone. So there’s a sense of finding a tribe. Last night we had drinks at Inspire 9 in Footscray, and there were 80 people there, all humming and chatting and talking about their businesses. So this willingness to contribute to the community, and to find a tribe is really cool.
The other thing that’s amazing is a network of businesses. So a lot of business [will 00:14:39] B Corp their supply chain, so obviously if you’re a B Corp you start looking for a B Corp lawyer, a B Corp accountant, in travelling you would use the B Corp travel agency. Increasingly people are buying B Corp gifts for each other and so forth. I was just given a beautifully Bellroy wallet recently, which is absolutely gorgeous. So that consumer, very much the economics of it is making sense, and then the greatest return that the Australian B Corps are seeing is the ability to attract and retain staff.
And without a doubt in this competitive marketplace, to be able to articulate to staff why you’re different to your competitor, how you’re walking the talk, it’s totally compelling. One of our big big corps, a company called Sun Corp, sorry Silver Chef, who are based in Brisbane. Allen English, the chair has said that, in the past in the hiring process, he would get seven out of 10 of the employees he wanted in a hiring recruitment process. Now he thinks he gets nine out of 10. And he’s measured it and that is because of the articulation of purpose through B Corp, which just makes it super clear.
And we all know that this next millennial generation are completely driven by working in line with their values, the delight surveys are much quoted, and there is a sense that employees don’t want to check their values at the door as they go to work. They want to live a life which is in line with their values. And I would say that as a Gen-Xer and a mother that I also want to live by my values. As I leave my daughter every morning and run a very high wire lifestyle, or life, I do it because I go to work in an environment that I believe in doing something that excites me with people who inspire me. And I believe that purpose driven business and that independent certification holds business to account and gives you a degree of comfort that you are putting your energy in the right place.
Kylie: And I would say also as a Gen-Xer and a mother, and also increasingly concerned about the impact that business has on our community, and not wanting to check yourself out at the door when you walk into somewhere where you work. I’m with you. I don’t think it’s just a millennial thing, but definitely I also see that as a trend. The interesting thing that you raise there about attracting the right kind of staff, so it’s saying that these are the things that we stand for, and if you believe in those things too then you’re attracting people who stand by that.
And you also have a jump board. So there’s a B Corp jump board.
Alicia: Yes we do.
Kylie: [inaudible 00:17:15] That’s fantastic because you’re also facilitating like minded people to be able to find each other which is terrific. So a business can then use the B Corp certification as an attraction tool and also a stamp of authenticity, is that right?
Kylie: So it’s been [a treaty 00:17:40] too, sort of like the fair trademarks that you see on coffee and things like that.
Alicia: Yeah it’s like … we talk about it like being a bit like fair trade for business. So the difference with the B Corp certification is it’s holistic so it’s not just one product, so we measure the impact of your whole business. Which I think is really important because it’s not enough in our mind to just have a CSR department that does good work in one …
Kylie: Corporate Social Responsibility.
Alicia: That does good work in one department, and then you’re out the back mining. I believe it’s about the whole impact of the company. And I think that’s what purpose-driven business is finally compelling, because quite often they’re set up to solve a specific social environmental issue, but they haven’t necessarily thought about the other impacts of their company, and so suddenly it’s interesting to see someone like Abigail from Kit Car. She set up Kit Car to solve an issue which was to reduce waste to landfill. But as she grew her business she said she never actually expected to have 60, 80, 100 staff around the world. And so suddenly how does she live her values on the day to day and with her staff? And when they re-certified recently when they were thinking about how they could increase their impact, which businesses need to do every two years, they decided they would put solar panels on the roofs of all their businesses. And so it just kind of helps you really think about the holistic impact of your business.
Kylie: And check back in.
Kylie: For example, for business, two years can be a long time in business. You know things change pretty quickly these days, so the requirement is for two years to come back and re-certify and check back in with your values. Because values also change over time as well, don’t they? And your capacity for things that you can now do will always change over time.
So that was interesting what you were saying about expanding out the staff base, and I guess that’s one of the things I’m interested in producing this podcast is working on purpose is one thing, so finding a business that you’re aligned with, that you feel like you’re working towards a greater good, is there something specific about the kinds of people that are attracted to starting a B Corp in terms of how they treat their staff, or their approach to the human side of business, or what I like to call the soft tissue part of the business?
Alicia: I think staffing is hard. It’s really hard to manage a team, it’s really hard to grow a team, and I think it’s a struggle for many, particularly when you start a business it’s all an idea and you haven’t thought about how you look after the people. I think what it does is it gives you a framework to be authentic to those staff, and it also provides an opportunity for the staff to have real engagement around purpose. So what we notice is often when companies certify a B Corp in the first year, it’s either the founder or an entrepreneur who drives that certification.
But then in the first year they spend a lot of time embedding the concepts internally, so staff start coming to our events, we have a BLD which is B Corp Leadership Development Day where we invite teams to come along, and they start networking, but then as they roll around to re-certification in about 18 months, suddenly the only way you’re gonna be able to re-certify, is if you have whole staff engagement.
So it becomes this tool for internal innovation, and we’ve seen the most conservative type companies, like law firms, use the B Corp assessment to create a hack-a-thon internally. So they down tools across a whole company, from receptionists to chair, and looked at the impact of their business and how they can improve their impact. And so this particular law firm decided that they would theme each quarter by part of the assessment. So in one quarter they developed this B Corp team committee, which was across all levels of the business. The first quarter they looked at their environmental impact and how they could go paperless. The second quarter they looked at their pro bono relationships and their community relationships and tried to work out whether or not it was actually aligning with their values, and so on and so forth.
So I think it becomes an incredible way for the employer/founder to truly engage their staff in this purpose. So I don’t think it’s a magic bullet, but it allows you an opportunity to create both ownership and a frank conversation. ‘Cause frequently, I think, as an employer, you mean to stop and slow down and take everyone on the journey with you, but you’re just running so fast. So I think it’s a mechanism for innovation and reflection in a business.
Kylie: This episode of In the Company is brought to you by the 2017 Small Business Festival, which is run by the Victorian Government in Australia, and is designed to help start-ups and small to medium businesses go from strength to strength. Check out the festival website to find free and affordable events all across Melbourne and regional Victoria throughout the months of August and early September. There’s over 500 events including workshops, webinars, mentoring, and podcasts just like this one. Visit festival.business.vic.gov.au to learn, grow, and connect.
If you were a single person business, so if you’re just an individual in a business, how might the framework work for you? So if you either didn’t work in the B Corp but you felt really aligned with the values as an individual, or perhaps you’re a single person in business, you are the business, does it still have application for them?
Alicia: Absolutely. Some of our most powerful businesses are micro-businesses. Some of our most impactful are accounting … [Bronwin 00:23:36] from B cubed was started as a solo trader and certified and she routinely wins Best for the World points awards for her community impact. So I think the certification, there are 78 versions of the certification depending on the size of your business and your sector. So we have a different set of questions that I’m worker focused, obviously. And I think that’s actually even more important if you’re a micro-business because that sense of finding your tribe, and the ability to convert Champions Retreats either in Australia or overseas or local conferences and do professional development and challenge yourself. I think it’s really important. So most of the B Corps in Australia are small businesses, without doubt.
Kylie: So there’s no revenue requirement. You don’t need to have been generating a certain amount of revenue to be part of the programme?
Alicia: You need to have been trading for 12 months.
Kylie: Just trading for 12 months.
Alicia: Yeah, because we measure the impact of your business. So you actually need to have had some impact. So no you don’t need to have specific revenue, other than the costs of certification which are annual, scaled depending on revenue.
Kylie: So have you got some examples of maybe some of the most impactful cases of where businesses or B Corp businesses have maybe either where they’ve become certified and then how things changed for them? Or results of the certification process?
Alicia: I just got a really gorgeous email from a Brisbane-based B Corp called CSnet who have been a B Corp for three years now and travelled twice to the Champion’s Retreat in the US. And they said that it’s been an amazing tool for innovation to them to really rethink their business, and feel a strong sense of ownership and road-test their new technology and software. So, time and time again I hear about the impact of finding your tribe, more than anything else.
One of my, I can tell you a couple of the international examples, one of my favourite and it’s a globally recognised social enterprise business, is Greyston Bakery. So Greyston Bakery has a completely open hiring policy. So they bake brownies and they talk about baking brownies to make jobs. And what they do is they bake the brownies that are actually part of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, but by having no hiring policy anyone can come and work for them and they train everyone, and so what they do is they employ people who have no work history, so if you’re out of jail, if you’re a long term unemployed person, come work with them, build your confidence, create job pathways, and I really like that idea that they were set up to solve a social issue, and the social issue is joblessness and what you are seeing that cycle of homelessness.
But actually the outcome is these phenomenal brownies which have a commercial reality of being a big part of Ben and Jerry’s, and they recently looked into how they can launch in Europe as well, because Ben and Jerry’s is growing as are they, so that idea of scaling with the purpose absolutely integral to everything you do, and for me I think the most powerful purpose driven companies are not the ones that do business as usual and then return profits to their purpose, they’re the ones where the purpose is embedded in everything they do. And that’s the stuff that I find really compelling.
And there’s one called People Solar in Australia. And People Solar works with not-for-profits and government-owned businesses to fundraise mostly through crowd funding platforms to put solar panels on roofs of churches and schools. And with the understanding that the church or school will, with the savings they make from the electricity, invest that back into the community. So I really like that kind of idea of, “How can you and your business change the status quo, but by your day to day work?”
Kylie: It’s sort of an interesting, it’s an interesting dichotomy there where the first one was we had a social problem, how do we solve it? Through baking cookies. And the other one is perhaps, we have a product, how can we create a business model that has multiple positive impacts? So it’s, I guess what I’m thinking about is if I’m in a business, can I engineer our purpose back into it? Most people that I work with, you’re digging into why they do what they do, unravels their purpose for them. Sometimes they’re not capable of actually articulating it because it’s something that they just have done without really explicitly explaining why this is important to them. So do you find that people might become interested in this and then discover things about themselves or about why they’re doing their business that perhaps they hadn’t discovered before?
Alicia: Certainly I think that there’s a massive opportunity for business to transform into being more purpose driven, and you only need to look at the multinationals who are standing up and talking about how important purpose is to them and the Unilever and Danone’s of this world who are suing purpose, and partly that’s because the reality is that they’re purpose-driven businesses, so Unilever owns Ben and Jerry’s and also 7th Generation, are the ones that are thriving. So they can see the business case for it. And I’m not saying that [snickly 00:29:21] but they can see that that’s the future of business and so Danone just recently in their shareholder meeting said that they ultimately want to become a B Corp and that they’re pursuing purpose in everything that they do. And Paul Polman is the pin up kid for multinational sustainability.
I think it’s really hard to do it that way. If you want to be a truly purpose-driven business, you ultimately have to be clear that you’re trying to solve a problem or a issue, and if your business doesn’t set you on fire and you’re only there to make money, you’re in the wrong business, I think. I would question not that … I would question, it is a tool for transformation, I think it’s important, but I would question why you go to work everyday. So I don’t know, I’m kind of on the fence on that, I think for big business, sure you need to make sure you’re on purpose to bring everyone with you. But for small to medium business, I mean, why do you get up everyday and do that job? I think you have to be pretty in touch with why you work and in that role.
Kylie: Absolutely. And checking in with yourself about that. What I love about the B Corp certification progress, programme that you’ve just outlined, all the process, is that it actually gives people something concrete to hang onto. So if I do want to bring all of these, how can I go about doing it, and here’s the framework and here’s a process, like you were talking with that legal firm, it actually makes a way forward, very concrete, by the sound of it.
So does that change over time? You mentioned it’s been around for ten years, has the certification programme itself actually changed?
Alicia: It changes all the time. We launch a new version of the certification every two years. And we just get better and better at asking questions. So we kind of close the gap in the questions. In the last version of the certification we started asking about whether employers are paying in turns, for example, and we started getting better at measuring the impact of the shared economy, so as business progresses, so do our standards. And have an independent standards advisory council with people from all around the world who bring to the table the issues they believe the standards need to address.
Kylie: So what is the vision for the future for B Labs as a global organisation?
Alicia: Yes, we have a rapid global expansion plan at the moment, which is offset by being able to do it in a way that we can deliver on. But we have moved from launching in the US 10 years ago to now having country partners throughout South America, or in Canada, in Australia and New Zealand, in the UK, throughout Europe, Taiwan, currently we’re in talks with groups in Japan, South Korea, and also Singapore. So there’s a big push into Asia at the moment, which is led by B Corps in country. We just been funded to launch an African office, so there’s a B Lab East Africa that just launched in the last year, which has been funded by an international bank organisation. We’re trying to figure out how to launch in South Africa.
So the pressure is on, and it’s really being driven by local business and entrepreneurs who are putting their hands up and saying, “It’s time. We need to create a credible community of people using business as a force for good.” We haven’t even really grappled with how we build relationships in India or China, and so one of the biggest concerns for us is how do we make sure that the B Corps are a diverse range of businesses? ‘Cause inevitably it started in quite developed nations with very progressive thinkers, so how do we become more inclusive in our communities is a big issue for us at the moment.
Kylie: Yeah, and do you have a target or a vision for the percentage of impact that you would have? Could all businesses everywhere one day be a B Corp?
Alicia: I wondered that. I think it’s too hard to be a B Corp for every business to become one. I hoped when I started that that would be the way of the future. What I think … ’cause the certifications just get harder and harder, so it’s the B Corps are absolute exemplars in business. But what we are increasingly finding is that there is a real focus on being like a B Corp, and Fortune magazine said in 2016, one of the biggest business trends was to think like a B Corp. So I ultimately believe that we will see every business measuring their impact as they measure their financial return, and that’s where I see the world going, so it’s not enough to create return for your shareholders, it’s also what is your return for your stakeholders?
And so the global pressure on business to step up is phenomenal. And recent, Edelman Trust Barometer has shown that trust around in government or politics and the not-for-profit sector is dropping all the time, and the trust in business is growing. But they are looking to business to be leaders, and the trend I think we’ll see is less of business trying to fly under the radar, and more of business becoming braver and more articulate about why they’re here and what they stand for, and I think consumers and employees will reward businesses who are articulate about their role in the world, and that’s the major trend I see happening. And if we can use the B Corp stories as examples of whey they’re a successful business and why it’s an important business and build the confidence in other business to follow, I think that’s the greatest outcome we could have.
Kylie: I love what you just said there about being able to articulate the things that they care about, and what they believe in, and the standards that they’re shooting for. Because, like you said, a lot of businesses want to fly under the radar, but it is those businesses that are very clear about what they stand for and back themselves in saying, “We make a difference. We care about making a difference in these ways.” They’re the businesses that we’re drawn to and we’re attracted to, and I just think of … I even think of individuals. I always come back to someone like Jamie Oliver, who is very clear about the things that he thinks are important, and where he puts his time and effort into backing himself and the change that he wants to make in the world. The more people that we have like that the more, as you say, the more force for good that we have in the world. It’s quite an exciting place to be.
Alicia: Yeah, it’s thrilling. Amazing to work with such bright, motivated people everyday.
Kylie: Yeah. And also create that social contagion of this is how it could be, and providing a vision of businesses actually doing that and getting people to come along with you.
So as we wrap up our conversation today, I was just wondering what are the three things that you would like listeners to take away form our conversation?
Alicia: To be brave and not put off the difficult conversations within a business. I think you’ll thank yourself for creating an environment where you can turn up as your whole self to business. And if that takes a few difficult conversations, I think it’s worth it.
I think the other thing is to find your tribe, whatever that is, whomever that is. To make sure that you’re not spending too much time in your own head and that you actually find support networks to grow your business and your thinking, particularly I think in small to mediums, it’s important to have mentors, it’s important to have networks, and never underestimate the value of those.
The third is that this idea of purpose-driven business, or business solving social environmental issues is an idea that’s time has come. We are seeing all over the world these B Corp style businesses thriving, retaining staff, attracting suppliers and winning contracts, and so I think that it is no longer a fad, I think it’s a reality.
Kylie: And where can we find out more?
Alicia: We run a number of events around Melbourne and Australia, and if you go to our B Corp website, which is Bcorporation.com.au and go to our events page, we run regular morning teas and master classes, but also you can just log onto the impact assessment, which is Bimpactassessment.net and give it a red hot go. And I really recommend it, I think it’s worth putting some time aside and logging in and taking that advice and downloading our policies and procedures that are feely available. Those are the two [crosstalk 00:38:32]
Kylie: And you can stop the assessment and save it and come back to it?
Kylie: So you don’t have to sit down for the three hours in the one block and then [inaudible 00:38:39] figure it out.
Alicia: No, no.
Kylie: And also for your events, do you have to be a B Corp to come to them or are they available to any business that’s interested in attending? And some of those are online, the webinars?
Alicia: Yes we run webinars and we run regular events in other B Corps offices. No, no the aim is to really allow people to come and ask questions, meet the community and get a sense of who we are and why they might want to be involved.
Kylie: Yeah, terrific. Well I look forward to looking up more and getting involved. So thanks for your time today, Alicia. I just wanted to finish off with our 10 by 10. So we’ve got 10 questions, we’ve got 10 seconds to finish them off. Are you ready?
Alicia: Yeah, sure.
Kylie: All right. Well we’ll start off with number one. What I like about myself is …
Alicia: I’m true to what I believe.
Kylie: I beat procrastination by …
Alicia: I place bets with myself, and give myself short time frames to do things quickly.
Kylie: A song on my life soundtrack is …
Alicia: I’m currently reliving The Beatles with my daughter. So “Imagine” is high on my list.
Kylie: A book that changed me is …
Alicia: I had the good fortune of doing Leadership Victoria’s Williamson programme last year, and they required us all to do our true north, and so there’s a book called True North which is about understanding where you come from and how you show up as a leader. It was a amazing.
Kylie: Something everyone must do is …
Alicia: Get outside regularly.
Kylie: The world needs more …
Alicia: Rebels, and people who are willing to stand for what they believe.
Kylie: Fear and I …
Alicia: Come to face to face at 3:00 in the morning, and hopefully move quickly past any anxiety by unpacking it and moving on.
Kylie: A phrase I live by is …
Alicia: Behave to others as you would like to be treated in all your interactions.
Kylie: Something that always makes me feel good is …
Alicia: Being outside in the bush with my family. But that idea of walking through trees with canopies that touch at the top fills me with joy.
Kylie: And number 10, my legacy will be …
Alicia: That those around me rise as I do.