Using Business as a Force for Good

Our very own Founder and CEO, Becky McKinnell, was just part of the Portland Regional Chamber in partnership with Great Works Internet (GWI) panel discussion: GWI Presents: B Corporations — Business as a Force for Good alongside some local B Corp pioneers spearheading this movement here in Maine. So many inspiring stories moved us, and we’re pretty sure they’ll impress you, too. Let’s jump in.

An exemplary panel lineup

In addition to Becky, this panel included:

Before we share some meaningful takeaways from these panelists, we’d be remiss not to talk about the collective energy on here first. Especially after a year like we all just experienced (in a very universal yet very siloed way), it was incredible to see so many talented entrepreneurs on a mission to bring positive change into the world and the Maine economy.

Panel moderator, Todd Bachelder, who is the Senior Vice President and Maine Market Manager of Mascoma Bank, a Certified B Corporation, reinforced why we’re all part of the B Corp movement in his opening presentation by stating, “Certified B Corps are talking the talk AND walking the walk – and the walks have been validated.”

While iBec Creative is still in the middle of the certification process, we’re about to join an impressive crew of Maine Headquartered Certified B Corps including GWI, Androscoggin Bank, Allagash Brewing Company, Tom’s of Maine, Luke’s Lobster, Cornerstone Financial Planning, Wicked Joe and Wicked Leaf, ReVision Energy, Coffee By Design, and MaineWorks.

Doing the right thing

This panel was a true testament to the collective mission of social and environmental responsibility. Instead of this being an “obligation,” there was a real sense of gratitude across this group to do more for our economy, our environment, and our community.

While we encourage you to watch the full panel discussion, here are a few things that stood out to us:

Kerem Durdag, GWI

GWI is the first B Corp Certified broadband carrier in the United States President and Chief Operating Officer, Kerem Durdag, stressed the importance of accountability, where the B Corp Certification provides “a tangible manifestation of standards and benchmarks if you want to do good.” In talking about the internet, he said: “As the underpinning of civilization, it means we have a financial, moral, and ethical obligation to make sure that civilization participates on an equitable basis. We shouldn’t be at the behest of a monopoly and we shouldn’t be at the behest of infrastructures that disallow that kind of growth to happen on a human scale, so we have to be intentionally inclusive. We have to intentionally think about what it means to close the economic divide.”

Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Company

As the first B Corp brewery in the state of Maine, this company has long proven its commitment to its employees, our community (they’ve committed to buying one million pounds of Maine-grown grain per year), and the environment. But, like many of us, the pandemic threw them for a huge loop. Rob shared the story of March 16th, when every one of their 50 distributors called to cancel all their draft orders, 65% of their business evaporating overnight, with another 5% loss that followed with cancellations in the restaurant and bar channel. While this would have understandably cut most companies at their knees, Rob vowed to do right by his stakeholders. They didn’t lay off any employees, and instead shifted them around to other parts of the business so people could keep their jobs. They even found a way to give back with strained revenues through a beer giveaway for frontline workers.

Ben Conniff, Luke’s Lobster

This Maine B Corp wants to bring well-founded trust back to the seafood business. Ben shared a story that happened soon after their 2018 B Corp Certification, when their primary business was running lobster roll restaurants that relied on lobster knuckle and claw meat. They quickly realized they needed to figure out what to do with the rest of the lobster. They had a huge amount of lobster tails, sometimes an excess of lobster meat, shells (that they didn’t want to put into the compost or landfill), and they needed to find other customers/ways to utilize the whole lobster they were purchasing from fishermen – all the way from antenna to tail. Through a partnership with Whole Foods (who chose them for their trusted B Corp status), Luke’s Lobster was able to use the majority of the lobster and return more value back to fishermen in their communities. Luke’s Lobster is also committed to sharing what they’ve learned throughout the B Corp Certification process to others in the seafood business, not just to help individuals, but also to strengthen the collective character of the entire industry.

Becky McKinnell, iBec Creative

iBec Founder and CEO, Becky McKinnell, spoke about our iBec B Corp journey, something we’ve been sharing with all of you since our first blog. In always caring about being a good company, her mission to do more has been solidified and validated in this pandemic year. Instead of thinking and feeling about being a good company, it’s been powerful to see how our actions to work toward racial justice, environmental sustainability, and community involvement (i.e. corporate matching for local food insecurity) have been proven in this B Corp certification process. She also shared some great advice to those Maine companies on the fence about taking the plunge: “Anyone who thinks that they’re too small or not big enough or not established to go through the B Corp certification process – try it. Go online to the B Impact Assessment. It’s free to create an account and it will get your wheels turning about all the different ways you can measure being good at your company.”

If this panel is just the tip of the iceberg for what Maine can do, we’re all in for a great ride.

A quick update

Our B Corp journey is progressing–we’re awaiting to be assigned an assessor to finish up the certification process, and we’re continuing to work on our handbook.

On that note, Becky shared this final advice on the panel discussion, “Learn to love your handbook. Don’t copy and paste it from somewhere. Make it yours and make it purposeful. Our handbook is the reason why we were able to check off so many boxes on the B Impact Assessment. So, if you’re not already very close with your handbook, get close, because it’s definitely part of the B Corp certification process.”

Keep following our B Corp journey!

We’re so enthusiastic to take on this huge project, and we’d love to have you alongside us! We’re going to post monthly blogs on this adventure – so follow us on Instagram and sign up for our newsletter. We can’t wait to share this journey with all of you!

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