Local ‘B-Corporations’ putting people before profits

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Slowly but surely companies around the world are shifting their mission, putting people before profits.

They’re called Benefit-Corporations, or B-Corps, and they’re “What’s Next.”

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“The idea is, if you become a B-Corp, the practices in your business are making a change in your community,” said Seth Gross, owner of Bull City Burger and Brewery in Durham.

Bull City is the world’s first microbrewery to earn a B-Corp certification . That means they scored an 80 or better on a rigorous assessment that’s taken by thousands of companies around the world.

Gross said the assessment asks “Everything from how you treat your employees, are you paying living wages? Are you promoting from within? Do you give raises and how often?”

Gross stressed that the requirements for the certification are substantial.

“You really have to provide real data and records and prove things you can’t just say. ‘I hire minority people or I promote from within and here’s the living wage,’ you have to show those things on paper.”

Right now there are around 1,500 B-Corps in 42 countries.

“The most recent addition to the B-Corp movement is Kickstarter,” said Christina Smith of The Redwoods Group, a B-Corporation based in Morrisville.

Smith presented a seminar on B-Corps during UNC’s Global Entrepreneurship Week in November.

“It’s really being embraced [around] the globe because people want to get behind the one unifying goal which is to re-define success in business,” she said.

B-Corporations require a new way of thinking – a way of thinking Gross said he really likes.

“I really like this idea of the triple bottom line – the people, the planet and the profit,” he said.

Gross said he takes the mission seriously at Bull City.

“When you look at where we source our food… and if I thought about how I’m going to impact my community, if I buy lettuce from a farmer that’s 20 minutes away, the money from that lettuce is staying in our community. All of our beef comes from within two hours of the restaurant, all pasture raised, no added hormones, no antibiotics,” he said.

It all comes back to the triple bottom line for Gross.

“I think it’s a huge paradigm shift for folks, just getting people 10 years ago to put stuff in their blue can at their home was a big paradigm shift and now we’re trying to take that a lot further than just recycling with a blue can,” he said. “We work with four trashcans, so when the plate goes back the food scraps go into one can, napkin and anything paper goes into a can, you have anything recyclable and then we have a little tiny trashcan, literally like a desk trash can in a restaurant, and that’s all that’s going to go in the landfill.”

It’s not just the environment Gross cares about – it’s also the community and his employees. He said he “absolutely” feels like his customers appreciate the fact that they keep things local and try to be environmentally-friendly.

In North Carolina there is no legislation formally recognizing and protecting B-Corporations, but there is an an informal network of Certified B Corporations and like-minded allies, dedicated to promoting business as a force for social and environmental good, both in North Carolina and around the world. Visit http://www.NCBCorps.org for more on North Carolina B-Corps.

In fact, the global retreat for B-Corporations will be in the Triangle in 2016. The Triangle was selected after a very competitive selection process.The retreat will bring over 500+ global leaders dedicated to using business as a force for good. On Thursday, October, 13, 2016, the Triangle community will be invited to ‘B Inspired,’ TED-style talks featuring B Corp leaders. Afterwards, there will be a community festival celebrating social innovation and the growing B Corp movement.

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