NC State’s B Corp Clinic provides an opportunity for students to work with professionals who are aspiring to become B Corporation certified and improve their company’s social and environmental impact. This past fall semester marked the 4th semester of the clinic where students from around North Carolina worked with various local companies to improve their score on the B Corp assessment.
Clinic teams use the B Corp assessment and their previous knowledge of business sustainability to better guide the participating companies with a potential path to improve their social and environmental impact. By improving their score, companies are improving their business model and B Impact Assessment score. Over the last two years, the B Corp Clinic has engaged 30 companies with over 185 students who have collectively improved scores on the assessment by over 1200 points.
The most recent B Corp Clinic was another successful addition to past semesters of the clinic as over 50 undergraduate and graduate students participated from NC State, Chapel Hill, Duke University, Elon University, Appalachian University and Wake Tech Community College. Students used their business sustainability knowledge to help companies create an employee handbook and reduce their office space environmental impact.
This semester’s clinic was different from other clinics as it was done virtually. The B Corp Clinic presentations that were previously held in-person at locations like The Frontier or HQ Raleigh were all conducted through video conferencing.
Students attended virtual training for the clinic which was conducted by BSC associates Adam Harris and Rudhawarsh Loganathan. Harris, a Jenkins MBA candidate, stated “This past semester’s training took a slightly different form since we hosted everything online. Over the past couple of semesters, we’ve been trying to improve the training process and start-up resources available for each team. We start with the guidelines set by B-Labs, but proceed to tweak and organize these guidelines for specific application to the B-Corp clinic.”
Teams also conducted group meetings using video conferencing software, Google Hangout, Trello and other virtual platforms. This change was introduced in hopes of including more students and professionals from around North Carolina.
Farmhouse is a company that was founded in 2015 which creates technological and managerial solutions for small to medium sized businesses. The company is run by the two presidents, Tom and Pete, who work to create software solutions and development for their clients. The company prides itself on creating unique solutions for their clients and being thorough. At the start of their time with the B Corp Clinic, Tom and Pete wanted to become a certified B Corp but, more importantly, they wanted to be a socially and environmentally responsible business by building these responsibilities into the business model of their new company.
The team worked with Farmhouse to evaluate their status with the B Impact Assessment. Farmhouse originally scored 3.8 points on the original impact assessment. The team worked with the company to improve their employee handbook by evaluating their impact on governance, workers, environment and community. Governance was their biggest focus since this section of the assessment had the biggest potential of growth for the company. With the recommendations from the team of students, Farmhouse was able to increase their points from 3.8 to 16 by the end of the clinic.
“Spending time working with FarmHouse this semester gave me a better understanding of the rigid process that companies must go through in order to prove that they should become certified. The clinic showed our team that there are many opportunities for companies to gain points towards certification but the assessment does require work. This showed me that certification is all the more important and special when companies can achieve it.” – Iman Usmani, FarmHouse Team Member
Vijilent is a software company with a focus on searching through data across social channels. The company’s goal is the make the sharing economy safer with the data they process. Initially, Vijilent needed ways to communicate their purpose and mission to the community, clients and employees. Along with this, the company had the goal to align their documentation with their mission to become a certified B Corp. With the start of the clinic, the company scored a total of 31.1 points in 2016 in the B Impact Assessment. The company scored the highest in the community section of the assessment based on their initial employee handbook.
Through the use of the clinic, the teams worked with the company on recommendations to improve their scores in governance and workers. After the time with the clinic, the company increased their scores in governance from 1.5 to 2.1 and raised their scores in workers from 9.4 to 10.2. The team left the company with recommendations on how to continue to work towards certification such as completing the full assessment, document their employee review process and determine charitable causes to donate to.
The Gragg Law Firm is founded by Mavis Gragg and andles estate planning, estate administration and heirs property. Their mission is to synthesize professional experience in law and meditation with passion for helping people grow and maintain wealth. Initially, the firm’s mission was to become a certified B-Corp to “affirms their commitment to making an environmental and social impact with their business.”
The firm started with an initial score of 57.5 points when starting with the clinic. The team worked with the company guided the company to ending the clinic with an assessment score of 80.4 points. The team recommended ways for the firm to improve their scores in several areas. Three main areas improved during the clinic included: environment which increased from .8 to 11.5 points, workers increased from 1.1 to 14.7 points, and community increased from 30.3 to 36.4 points. The team left the firm with recommendations to increase incentives for volunteerism, improve their child labor policy and write preferences to suppliers.
R. Riveter is a retail company in North Carolina that focuses on creating handbags and other small leather goods that are American-made. Their missions is to provide flexible, mobile income while empowering customers and their employees. Their business model incorporates social and environmental aspects because the company uses military materials such as tents, uniforms and laundry bags as well as employing a “chronically” underrepresented population by providing portable employment to military spouses stationed around the US.
At the beginning of the clinic, the company started with 40.8 points and ended with 70 points. The team focused on the governance and workers sections as well as gave recommendations for how to improve the employee handbook. The team also visited the manufacturing plant nd determined places of improvement for the environment section such as creating energy and water efficiency, focusing on office supplies and engaging employees. The team suggests that the company works on updating their employee handbook, documenting volunteer hours, and creating short and long term goals to work towards B Corp certification.
“I was able to help further develop their employee handbook policies and get a better insight into the depth of transparency companies must commit to throughout the certification process. This experience gave me a deeper appreciation of B Corporations as a whole and for their passion and dedication to bettering the world around us!” – Sofia Abdo, R. Riveter Team Member
Leaf and Limb is a treecology company in Raleigh focused on sharing their tree care and arborist skills through consulting services and hands on care. Leaf and Limb prides itself in knowing and continuing to learn about ancient and local species. They believe that “Healthy trees create happy people and a vibrant planet.”
The company started the clinic with 49.9 points which means they were 30.1 points from certification by the end of the clinic. The company scored the highest in the workers section of the assessment, followed by community. The team improved the governance section by formalizing processes and policies through employee training and policies. For the workers section, the team worked on implementing formal internship policies and procedures, enhancing the culture and utilizing an employee satisfaction survey. Environment was improved through finding sources green office supplies as well as installing a Nest thermostat and performing an energy audit. The team lead the company to 86.4 points by the end of the clinic and the team submitted the assessment for certification.
“Participating in this clinic has introduced me to a community of people who believe that all stakeholders should be included with every step of their business foundation, structure, and day-to-day business. I was able to use my training to solve a real-world problem by assisting Leaf & Limb through the B Corp assessment process. This opportunity has strengthened my resolve that we can use business to solve existing global sustainability issues.” – Anna Campbell, Leaf & Limb Team Member