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The B Corp certification process as seen by a CEO who did it

Most boardrooms are dominated by the underside line. Too many CEOs can recite a decade’s price of earnings information however can’t maintain a significant dialog in regards to the communities they function in or the shoppers they serve. Nonetheless, in the previous couple of years, that perspective has began to shift. Extra leaders perceive that being good and being worthwhile should not mutually unique. Most of the time, the previous is a vital part to the latter.

That is one thing we’ve recognized to be true at WeTransfer since we opened our doorways in 2009. In reality, we determined in these early days that we might donate 30% of our promoting stock to voices and causes that aligned with our values in perpetuity. Blocking almost a third of a vital income stream was—and nonetheless is—a huge deal for our group. However we do it gladly yearly. Since then, our method to company social accountability has advanced and expanded in ways in which we’re happy with. The greatest level of satisfaction so far has been reaching B Corp standing. We celebrated one 12 months of certification final fall.

The process to develop into a B Corp was eye-opening. As a corporation whose dedication to company social accountability (CSR) is deeply embedded in our basis, we anticipated the process to be pretty easy. This was not the case. The rigors of the B Corp process put our efforts to be a drive for good by way of their paces in a manner we’d by no means had earlier than. It was humbling to look again in any respect our onerous work and weed out areas for enchancment and progress.

By way of the entire process, three challenges particularly stand out from the remainder: measurement, goal-setting, and altering company conduct.


Problem one: Creating commonplace measurements

Regardless of all the great work we’d achieved over the previous 10 years, we shortly realized that we hadn’t spent sufficient time growing a solution to measure the impression. For instance, we had given away billions of promoting impressions without cost to assist underrepresented artists and vital causes, such as gun and healthcare reform. However we couldn’t present the distinction these impressions made for the people or the causes. We simply assumed we have been serving to the world, and left it at that.

In the present day, we’re dedicated to bringing the identical degree of stringent measurement standards to our CSR actions that we do to each different part of our enterprise. The biggest impression of that shift to date has been on our quest to shrink our carbon footprint. Our carbon footprint is awfully combined up in that of our provide chain companions’, and we’ve needed to reevaluate and reorient vital relationships as a outcome. For instance, we realized that our cloud utilization by way of Amazon Net Companies was a big driver of our carbon footprint. So as an alternative of viewing our AWS relationship as supplier/person, we checked out it as turning into companions on lowering that footprint. We labored hand in hand to calculate every side of our utilization and located artistic methods to decrease it.

[Image: courtesy of WeTransfer]Whereas this was definitely difficult at first, AWS has since develop into one in every of our closest advisors on tips on how to use its service much less intensely and is commonly presenting artistic concepts to maintain us on monitor.

Problem two: There isn’t any end line

We’re a goal-oriented group; we love setting targets, hitting them, and shifting on to the subsequent one. Targets and targets rooted in accountability, nevertheless, should not all the time so clear-cut. We got here to the tough realization that accountable work by no means actually ends. B Lab, the group that certifies B Corps, understands this and requires B Corps to recertify each three years. The process requires proof of milestones achieved and a presentation of recent milestones to pursue.


Once more, our environmental objectives provide nice examples of this. Whereas we have been capable of obtain carbon neutrality 4 years forward of schedule—one thing we’re very happy with—we’ve relied closely on carbon offsets to take action. Whereas we preserve the gold commonplace for the offsets we make use of, we’re always searching for methods to take away carbon intensive processes from our operations straight.

As we learn to higher ourselves, we invite our neighborhood to do the identical. We’re prioritizing transparency in order that creatives have the knowledge they should use and interact with our merchandise in ways in which favor carbon neutrality, such as deleting information after sending as an alternative of storing them indefinitely. That is a group effort, and the one manner we’ll succeed is with inside and exterior buy-in.

Problem three: Altering our collective mindset

Creating long-lasting change just isn’t one thing you’ll be able to simply need to do. Making higher decisions required all of us at WeTransfer to regulate our mindset and alter our conduct. Whereas our group members share our mission-driven perspective, change continues to be tough and requires some further steps and changes to every particular person’s manner of working.

For those who’re serious about turning into a B Corp, I recommend you begin now, and begin with an open thoughts.


One such change was implementing our new accountable journey coverage, which impacts frequency of worldwide and home journey, how we e-book flights, and which kinds of flights we e-book. Whereas this will likely not look like a vital change, it straight impacts these who don’t stay close to a major workplace, and we’re nonetheless working to navigate how we maintain our tight-knit tradition whereas additionally mandating much less journey.

Moreover, our ambition to enhance range at our firm was one in every of our most difficult objectives and has required a vital change in mindset. The change needed to be so drastic that we realized bringing in additional educated exterior companions was the one solution to actually perceive tips on how to modify our hiring practices. We’re a firm rising quick in an trade that has not traditionally been extremely numerous. These companions are serving to us determine under-represented swimming pools of expertise and recalibrate our concept of a certified candidate to degree the hiring taking part in subject.

Recommendation from the CEO of a B Company

Changing into a B Corp just isn’t for everybody. However, for those who’re nonetheless intrigued, let me provide some recommendation, alongside these challenges, from somebody who has and continues to navigate them.

i 1 the biggest challenges wetransfer faced on its b corp journeyWeTransfer CEO Gordon Willoughby [Photo: coourtesy of WeTransfer]Most significantly, don’t begin out on this journey for the sake of with the ability to say you’re a B Corp or since you suppose it will win you extra prospects. As an alternative, take into consideration in case your stakeholders will stand behind you and push you ahead on the street as an alternative of holding you again.

Be clear with everybody—your group, your prospects, your traders—earlier than, throughout, and after the choice to develop into a B Corp. You’ll want their assist, and every group will be a beneficial sounding board, providing their very own insights and concepts alongside the best way.

Inspiration also can come from the B Corps which have come earlier than you. Gatekeeping has no place within the B Corp journey. In reality, WeTransfer believes so strongly in spreading our information that yearly we plan to place out a Accountable Enterprise Report detailing the progress we’ve made towards our objectives. We released our first report in April 2021 and hope that it can act as a blueprint for different tech firms with ambitions to affix the B Corp membership.

For those who’ve been serious about turning into a B Corp, I recommend you begin now, and begin with an open thoughts. It’s not a straightforward process, however it’s one with the potential to enhance your tradition, trade and, finally, the best way we apply enterprise world wide.

Gordon Willoughby is CEO of WeTransfer, an Amsterdam-based supplier of artistic workflow instruments.

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