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Our first year as a B Corp: Four learnings from our journey to #AddGood.

Our first year as a B Corp: Four learnings from our journey to #AddGood.

Reflecting on our first year as a B Corp 

After spending the last few years growing our clients into whole brands (brands that balance purpose and profit), we took the next big step and turned our core value of adding good into a measurable reality by becoming a Certified B Corporation. B Corps inspire all brands and consumers not only to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world. “B” stands for benefit, because certified B Corporations meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

Although B Corporations are often compared to other certifications like LEED, Fair Trade and USDA organic, what makes this certification particularly special to us is how it addresses excellence and impact across an entire brand's spectrum. The B Impact Assessment — which is more than 200 questions scored across five key dimensions: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers — helped redefine what success looked like in terms of the impact we place on the people, planet and communities we serve. It takes 80 points to become certified, so we’re proud of our score of 93.4. 

It’s been a year since we celebrated receiving our first certification as part of a new community that includes brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and Seventh Generation. And although we are proud of all that we've accomplished... there is still a lot more work to do. With B Corp standards as our guide, we discover new ways to do better, to add good into everything we do. As we celebrate B Corp Month, we have outlined our four areas of focus to make sure we are doing right by our clients, employees, planet and communities.

Clients: Build a world with more whole brands

Whole Brands look at their business holistically and function sustainably. We pride ourselves on the fact that 50% of our clients meet our Impact Criteria which means they have a strong purpose committed to meeting social and environmental needs, a business model that drives action against the UN SDGs, and they are actively engaged in work that moves the model and SDGs forward. We've also doubled the size of our Impact Team to better serve our clients on purpose, sustainability and culture initiatives and to attract more purpose-driven brands. 

Partners: Creating a culture where our people can thrive… and do the best work of their careers

Often sustainability is thought of as environmental impacts and conservation but in reality it is also to the impact on people and communities. One of the ways we measure employee satisfaction is through regular Partner Well-Being surveys where we look at things like individual growth, team connection, company impact and outside factors. These results are then shared quarterly. Because we are part of an industry that hasn’t always been the most inclusive to diverse talent, we prioritize DE+I in all aspects of our business.

We’ve implemented retention strategies which include a DEI+B Advisory Council and culturally responsive training. We created attraction programs: a creative accelerator for young BIPOC candidates to replace expensive portfolio schools, a fellowship program for seasoned BIPOC professionals looking for a new career in advertising, and partner referral programs. We have increased commitment to culture with our People of Barkley series, partner panels, Culture Contract and BRG’s. We also looked outside our company at our impact by partnering with groups like JA Biztown, KC Ad Club, The Brand Lab, 4A’s and 826 National. And we helped clients with their DE+I work and created the DE+I Readiness Spectrum which should launch this year. By increasing our DE+I efforts internally and externally, young students to senior professionals, we are excited to watch our industry become more diverse. 

Planet: Operate within our planetary limits

In 2020 we made a goal to reduce our CO2 Emissions and build out a plan to significantly reduce our waste. Our reduction of CO2 emissions was obviously impacted due to our partners working remotely during the pandemic but also because we implemented a travel policy that permits travel only if a meeting can’t be done virtually, while still best serving our clients. To tackle our waste, we launched an on-site compost program for Kansas City and Pittsburgh in addition to removing all desk-side trash cans and establishing compost-recycle-trash stations throughout the office. As we continue on our journey to zero waste, we are learning more about our remaining waste streams so we can tackle new challenges related to our environmental footprint.

Using our talents to advance diversity and equity 

Even though our partners were working remotely the majority of last year, they still added good throughout our communities. We made a commitment to increase the amount and improve the tracking of partner volunteering by giving each partner dedicated volunteer time off (VTO). We also encourage pro-bono work with our strategic nonprofit partners such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Harvesters and Teach for America. We focused on facilitating leadership and diversity in the next generation of creative minds. As we look toward the future (and hopefully a shift back to normalcy), we are excited to continue to invest time and money in our communities by relaunching Good Day, a company-wide volunteer day, as well as smaller opportunities to give back throughout the year.

We’re eagerly looking to the future with a focus on what matters most, measuring our progress every step of the way.


Barkley US

Mar 10, 2022

filed under:
B Corp,Culture,Purpose,Sustainability,Whole Brands

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B Corp, Modern Consumer, Purpose, Research, Sustainability, Whole Brands
B Corp, Modern Consumer, Purpose, Research, Sustainability, Whole Brands
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