Virginia Commonwealth University

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B My Valentine

“I would rather someone give me a present ‘just because’ instead of because a card told them to.”

I’m sure we’ve all heard variations of this sentiment before. Whether it’s about Valentine’s Day or another holiday with similarly commercial overtones. But if you’ve ever googled the phrase “unique gift ideas”, chances are you have stumbled upon the website Uncommon Goods . If you have not visited the site, I highly suggest you go visit it after you finish reading this article of course as it tickles the maker in all of us.

But perhaps what makes Uncommon Goods unique is not simply their relentless pursuit of novel ideas, but their pursuit of creating a company that sees its “makers” as partners not an assembly line. In fact Uncommon Goods is a B Corp business. If you have never heard of the term B Corp, they are a type of for-profit company who have social, environmental, performance, and accountability goals written into their charters. This ensures that positive impact and transparency can occur at every level of the business. It’s an interesting concept, taking the values of nonprofits and infusing them into for profit business practices to create meaningful and measured impact in the lives of all employees and ecosystems a business

B Corps have been growing in popularity in the United States since 2010 when Maryland became the first state to pass what is known as Benefit Corporation Legislation. Since then about 30 states have followed suit. Virginia became one of those states in 2011, and currently is home to 19 B Corps with about half of them residing in Richmond.

Being a B Corp can mean a lot of different things, but perhaps what is the most inspiring is the culture of “changemaking” that B Corp employees exude and the ownership they take over making change happen for others. Becoming a B Corp is flexible in itself as the certification is a framework to create and build a business within rather than a prescription by which to make one. So this means a company in almost any industry has the capacity to become one. You can see the diverse spread by some of the companies they have on their roster: Method, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Warby Parker, and more.

B Labs, the nonprofit behind the B Corps Certification, have recently developed a more comprehensive method for companies to compare B Corporations. This method is called B Analytics, and was originally created to measure B Core values and how that impacts an investing portfolio, business network and even supply chain. Although the goal of B Analytics is primarily to help companies better target where they are shifting their impact and measure their success, it’s important to note that B Labs and B Corps don’t prescribe one way of tackling these problems. Rather, they provide a framework that enables businesses to innovate and continue to change as they grow. But no matter what type of company you are, new or old, a startup or a multinational there is a path for you to become a B Corporation too.

If you’re on the hunt for some innovation, motivation and inspiration check out some of the talks that founders of B Corps have given here:


Post Written by Milgo Yonis, Current MPI Student

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