Guest Blogger M. R. Stevens, Ph.D., explains why it matters that Living Giving Enterprises, the sponsor of the Journey-Brand workshops, is up for B Corp Certification. Stevens has recently come on board as an instructor for the Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration (JOFC).
We are at the early stages of one of the most important trends of our lifetime: the growing global movement of people using business as a force for good. This movement is everywhere and has many leaders throughout the world. Some are small businesses; some are multinationals. Some use business to reduce poverty; some to restore the environment. All are creating meaningful work with dignity and purpose.
This past February, Wisconsin joined 33 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing corporations to charter themselves as “benefit corporations.” This charter option enables corporations to integrate their commitment to creating public benefit into their corporate purpose.
The benefit corporation charter legally empowers corporations to maintain commitment to their higher standards of purpose, accountability, and transparency that endures beyond changes in leadership and ownership. An additional option for conscious businesses is to become a Certified B Corp; this is the path chosen by Living Giving Enterprises, LLC (LGE), which produces the Journey-Brand workshops and trainings.
Both conscious business options are part of an exciting global movement to shift into what’s being referred to as Economy 2.0 comprised of businesses that are transforming their purpose from being best in the world, to being best for the world.
Historically, corporations have been required to consider the effects of any action or inaction solely on their shareholders. According to the enabling legislation, 2017 Wisconsin Act 77, Wisconsin corporations that choose to become benefit corporations also must consider the effects of their action or inaction on:
- Their employees and workforce, and those of their subsidiaries and suppliers;
- The interests of their customers;
- Community and societal factors;
- The local and global environment;
- The short-term and long-term interests of the benefit corporation, including benefits that may accrue to the benefit corporation from its long-term plans and the possibility that these interests may be best served by the continued corporate independence of the benefit corporation; and
- The ability of the benefit corporation to accomplish its public benefit purposes.
Business partnerships, limited liability companies (LLC), and cooperatives cannot become benefit corporations in Wisconsin. On the other hand, any for-profit business can seek to become a Certified B Corp.
Certified B Corps
The B Corp certification process is administered by B Lab, a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 to help harness the power of business to address the greatest challenges of societies across the globe. B Lab envisions inclusive, sustainable economies that create shared prosperity for all.
To help achieve this vision, B Lab conducts rigorous assessments of aspiring businesses to verify the positive effect they have on their workers, customers, communities, the environment, and the long-term foundation of accountability and transparency they establish to maintain the values, cultures, processes, and high standards they set for themselves. Businesses must achieve a minimum score of 80 out of 200 items across all impact areas on B Lab’s rigorous assessment. (The median score for ordinary businesses is 50.9, according to B Lab.) They must then verify that score with documentation in a follow-up interview with B Labs to become Certified B Corporations. The accountability and transparency required by B Lab supports the positive effects B Lab and the Certified B Corps envision.
The primary difference between benefit corporations and Certified B Corporations comes down to accountability for performance. With benefit corporations, performance is self-reported annually. Certified B Corps not only complete the initial assessment and verification process, but also must recertify every three years to ensure they maintain or improve on their performance.
As of September 2018, there were 2,655 Certified B Corporations worldwide, representing 150 industries and 60 countries, all with one unifying goal. Here are some US-based Certified B Corps you may recognize:
Living Giving Enterprises
Wisconsin currently has nine businesses that are Certified B Corps. Six of them are in Madison.
Madison Artisan Dental, LLC
Madison Cricket Design Works, Inc.
Madison Just Coffee Cooperative
Madison Tribe 9 Foods
Madison Vista Global Coaching & Consulting
Madison Whole Trees, LLC
Milwaukee River Water Partners
Nashotah Evolution Marketing
Pewaukee Box Latch Products –Made by Eco-Latch Systems LLC
Living Giving Enterprises hopes to be the next. Steve Davis and Darin Harris incorporated Living Giving Enterprises, LLC, in 2017 to provide a new organizational home for the Journey-Brand workshops they developed with Harry Webne-Behrman. The aim was to instill the character and skill set needed to inspire collaboration of diverse groups to solve increasingly complex problems. LGE scored 84.2 on the B Impact assessment, and soon will have a verification interview with B Lab.
One of the first goals we set for ourselves before we even launched our new venture, Living Giving Enterprises, LLC, was to become B-Corp Certified as soon as possible. For us, the B-Corp vision of inspiring organizations, or as we like to call them, Human Systems, to be the best for the world, perfectly aligns with our mission: “To transform individuals, organizations, and communities into living giving systems like those found in nature, and with our primary aim… to enable individuals and organizations to find their natural expression as living giving systems.” Becoming part of the B-Corp movement also supports our desire to connect with partners who share our intention to transform organizations into living giving systems.
—Steve Davis, Co-Founder, Living Giving Enterprises, LLC—
The LGE suite of workshops now includes:
- Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration (JoFC) (5-day workshop)
- Journey Beyond (JB) (3-day workshop)
- Integral Facilitation (2-day workshop)
- Journey Teachers of Transformation (JTOT) (2-year Teacher Certification Program)
Davis and Harris are driven by a shared passion for “facilitating the restorative evolution of human systems.” Their journey was inspired by the vision and values of the conscious business movement and benefit corporations, which are so powerfully embodied in B Corp Certification. They embedded these values into the incorporating documents for Living Giving Enterprises, LLC, with the intention of becoming a Certified B Corp.
LGE’s co-founders want to be part of the movement that contributes to the evolution of capitalism from a 20th-century focus on maximizing short-term, shareholder value to a 21st-century focus on maximizing long-term, shared value.
B-Corp certification will give Living Giving Enterprises membership in a community of positive, innovative, and practical businesses that use their individual businesses and their collective voice as forces for good in in the world—for workers, communities, and the environment. Membership in the community of Certified B Corp will raise visibility, and open up opportunities to build collaborative partnerships with other Certified B Corps. Most importantly, becoming a Certified B Corp is leading Living Giving Enterprises through a process that strengthens its capacity to live into its name and highest purpose.
Learn more about Living Giving Enterprises and its workshops including the Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration (JOFC) and register for the October 29-November 2, 2018 or January 14-19, 2019 JOFC Workshop.
2017 Senate Bill 298, Wisconsin Act 77: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/acts/77