It’s an exciting time here at Plank – the beginning stages of The Plank Foundation, innovative projects, welcoming new team members, and… the start of our B Corp journey!
You may or may not be familiar with the B Corp movement. For those who aren’t, Certified B Corporations (B Corp) are essentially for-profit businesses that are dedicated to redefining success in business and building a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy and planet. They are certified to meet comprehensive standards of societal & environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
Certifying as a B Corp is by no means easy – it challenges every element of how you run your business and considers its impact on all stakeholders, not just profit. That’s not to say that Certified B Corp’s don’t strive for profitability – they simply follow the idea that a business does not exist for profit alone. As of today, there are currently over 3,500 Certified B Corporations in more than 70 countries – including two of Plank’s favourite names Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s.
At the heart of B Corp Certification is the B Impact Assessment (BIA), which is how all companies are evaluated on their social and environmental impacts. The BIA highlights the strengths of a company and lets you see where you can improve across five “impact areas” of the business: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. With over 100,000 users of the tool, it’s a great resource for any company looking to certify or not, allowing them to reflect on their practices and get actionable ideas for better business decisions. To progress with B Corp Certification, a company must reach a total verified score of at least 80 points out of 200 available on the BIA.
After doing the initial assessment, we are proud to state that Plank is well above the 80-point threshold and we’re only just beginning!
The Time is Now
So, why are we doing this? Simply because it feels like a natural next step for us.
Aside from the fact that this is something I am extremely passionate about, the opportunity stood out to me when I first got to Plank and recognized how uniquely the company was operating. There was something special about how transparent and tight-knit the team was, how great the client relationships were, how much everyone cared about the work they were doing, and, most notably, how much they cared about each other. The only thing missing from the equation was that the rest of the world wasn’t seeing the power behind this dynamic.
Having been at Plank for eight months now, I am continuously impressed by the team, the work we do, and everything in between. I have always dreamt of working for a company that is so committed to their employees’ well-being and continual effort to improve on all aspects of the business, not just profitability. The culture and core values are embedded into an incredible team and the future goals are admirable. With 23 years of success under our belt, growth during a global pandemic, strong culture, and core values embedded into an incredible team, we have the knowledge and opportunity now to take this one step forward.
So, naturally, I proposed the idea to Warren and Steve and then started to write up a business case for Plank’s B Corp Certification. After many hours of research, an 80-page business plan, and a presentation to Plank’s leadership, I got the green light to pursue this. What’s even more incredible is how open everyone was to the idea, and even how excited they were about getting involved. Despite the amount of time and energy it will take to certify, it certainly wasn’t a difficult decision for any of us, as we felt that Plank’s 23 years of work have naturally led us on this path.
It feels like Plank has been heading towards B Corp for a long time now, but we didn’t have a label or a system to show us the way. I like the idea of having guiding north stars at Plank that we can all look to. The B Corp framework offers us a playbook for proven and transparent improvements. Our initial assessment was a great exercise, allowing us to celebrate our hard work over the past few years, but it also showed us where we need to be more rigorous, accountable and direct in our goals. Really looking forward to attaining our B Corp certification.Steve, Managing Partner, Plank
Plank’s Business Case for Certification
Plank’s way of doing things has always been people-oriented. Whether that be the well-being of our team members, our clients, partners, or the people browsing the sites we build. Our values are driven by people, for people. This is something we know internally, and most of our clients and partners know. We always wanted to “do good” but now we want to strive to continually push ourselves to be better and put a little more action behind that.
We realize as we grow and gain more knowledge that we can no longer stick to the mindset of “we think we’re doing things right” and shift to a proactive approach with actionable improvements and keeping ourselves accountable.
This is where B Corp fits right in! The certification process will help us to think through some really great ideas and outline a structure and framework to ensure our values stay embedded in the company long-term. By turning values, processes and ideas into actual policies, we are in a much better position to learn, grow, build on our existing practices, and keep improving – something very important to everyone on our team.
We are constantly striving to make Plank a better place, and we want to go through the process of becoming a B Corp to quantify our efforts. We know that we’ll never be perfect, but we want to have the tools to make us a more responsible company.Warren, President & Founder, Plank
We believe in being fully transparent about our practices & the reasoning behind them. Although better business is in Plank’s DNA, we needed to discuss some of the reasons that B Corp certification benefits us as a result of this process as well, which we feel are important to share. When digging deeper into a few other business benefits of pursuing certification, the following points came to mind:
- Attracting talent & building on our culture: B Corps report that after a company certifies, the quality of hires, retention rate, and employee commitment and excitement increased. Although we have a strong team right now, there’s no doubt that we are growing and we are always looking for candidates whose values align with our own. We feel as though Plank’s values, team & company culture align perfectly with the B Corp mission, and are in a great position to welcome new team members.
- Building credibility & amplifying our voice: Having a third-party, whole-business certification will help Plank stand out. It serves as a shorthand for great practices that we are trying to communicate to our clients, partners, and the general public; essential elements for business development & marketing.
- Benchmarking & improving performance: While Plank’s business model and processes are focused on the triple bottom line, there’s always room to do better. The BIA allows us to learn from other companies, improve our practices, and quantify our impact. Not only will this keep the team accountable and transparent, but it will also invoke even more pride in the work we do.
- Protecting our mission: The B Corp legal framework, benefit corporation governance structure, helps protect our mission, and helps solidify the outcome of our values, mission, and goals long-term.
- Joining a community & learning from other mission-driven companies: The B Corp community connects through events, an online network called the B Hive, and many other collaborations. We can learn from other responsible high-performing businesses, share best practices and build collective voice.
As we begin to think about future Plank, the value of this structure becomes even more and more important. We truly see this as an opportunity for responsible growth, more accountability, and most importantly, better business practices.
Our Next Steps
This is a long-term shift for Plank. Our method for certification is to dive deeper into the practices we already have in place, formalize them and do better. We will focus on areas that we are passionate about as a team and work towards expanding our efforts over time. Given that we are already above the 80-point threshold, we feel that this works best for us for long-term sustainability. A common mistake that we have learned from other companies who look to certify is to try tackling too many things at once. By focusing on specific areas in the assessment, we know that we will be more successful.
Of course, our efforts do not end once we receive certification – in fact, they are only just beginning. This process is overwhelming at times and it is tough, but we recognize how increasingly important it is to challenge ourselves in new ways. The B Corp community is vastly unique, surrounded by role model businesses, who are already opening our eyes to new and better solutions that will help push towards being a more responsible company.
Reach out if you’d like to learn more about the certification process! We may have a long way to go but we have already come a long way since the start. We would be happy to share our knowledge, resources, and best practices based on what we found has worked best for us so far. We will continue to be transparent about our processes, values, and our work. If we can inspire even one other organization to change some of their own practices, we are one step closer to contributing to a more regenerative economy and planet.
Stay tuned for updates along the way!