It’s that time – the end of year wrap up of how much I spent with diverse businesses. You can see my progress over the previous years here. If you’ve been here for a while, you know the wrap up is my chance to review how well I’m “walking the talk,” putting my money where my mouth is, or as we talk about in our Diversity Masterminds® courses, voting our values with our dollars.
This year it’s even more important because my spend with diverse suppliers and how I measure impact are critical components in getting B Corp certified earlier this year. It was not, however, the only metric that they look at so I am adding some categories to the wrap up this year.
A reminder about what B Corp certification is
Back in 2019, I took the B Corp Assessment and was pleasantly surprised that despite being a relatively small company, I was well on my way to making the 80 points necessary to apply for B Corp certification. B Corp certification evaluates how well a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It’s a rigorous certification, so much so that last year a colleague, Mark Scrimenti and I launched a course to help people approach it.
One of the reasons I had scored so high in that assessment was because I actually keep track of what I spend with local diverse vendors.
Customers are still paying attention
Last year I learned that many of the corporate members I’ve worked with through WBENC, NMSDC and NGLCC who have been tracking their spend with diverse suppliers are now also looking at how supplier diversity fits into their own ESG goals.
This year at Unity Week, an annual event for diverse suppliers, corporate members reiterated their interest in suppliers who are able to offer reporting, data, and storytelling around their ESG metrics. Having B Corp certification offered a quick easy way to illustrate my commitment to social and environmental impact.
Yet another certification?!
In my blogs about what to expect with B Corp certification and the experience of getting certified, I realized that business owners will need a lot of help with the process. I’ve always said that paperwork is the entrepreneur’s kryptonite. These types of certifications require a lot of paperwork.
The important thing for business owners to realize is that they don’t have to do it all at once. Diversity Masterminds® has a course for creating a sustainability statement, which doesn’t require that you get certified, only that you learn to tell your story in a way that clients and potential clients understand.
One of the great things about the B Corp is that the B Lab assessment is free to take so you can get a baseline on how you’re doing without a huge commitment. This is a good option for business owners who see sustainability certification as a nice to have rather than a need to have. They can set a longer term goal for the complete certification.
I’m also working with a woman-owned sustainability consulting firm, The Fehlig Group, to be able to help their clients approach these processes while also helping them to leverage the certifications they get.
Listen to the numbers
As with all things impact related, the story starts with the data. Every year, I start with tracking my spend with diverse businesses and for the first time this year, I tracked it with B Corp businesses as well.
Whereas last year my overall diverse spend was 45.5% this year it was 43.6%. While for B Corp that number puts me in the same percentage bracket as before, I’m interested in seeing what I can do to spend even more with diverse suppliers.
My direct spend with suppliers was 35.4%, about the same as in 2021. Last year I had a capital intensive project which really boosted my numbers. I don’t see anything that will require that kind of investment and as always, would love to reduce my expenses overall.
Diverse organizations and events
Included in the total number are dollars I spent on the diverse organizations, including B Lab, the organization that administers the B Corp certification. The fee to become and remain certified by B Corp alone was nearly 6% of my spend. The total number for ALL certified organizations and events came to 8.5%.
Travel, as ever, remains my biggest category of spend and while there are no diverse-owned airlines, I do track spend with those companies that have active supplier diversity programs and there is not much change from last year. I held steady at 10.9% in this acting intentionally category.
Additional goals beyond diverse spend
Another benefit of the B Corp certification is that they give you goals for improving your performance and impact on the assessment. So my impact report this year incorporates not only my supplier diversity goals but some additional environmental metrics as well.
Three categories that I did not report on for my assessment but that I’m taking into consideration now are:
- Offsetting my carbon footprint. There are several B Corp certified companies that will provide you with an offset for your carbon footprint. I used Carbon Credit Capital, a woman-owned and B Corp certified company. Starting with just my flights, I offset the 50 hours of flying I did last year for my company and increased my spend, if only incrementally, with a B Corp company.
- Increasing energy from renewable sources. I looked at the carbon footprint calculator for my household – about 12 tons – and went to my energy bills to track our usage from renewable sources. We have solar panels which reduces the footprint quite a bit but squirrels ate through the wires earlier this year. Now, with squirrel guards and some sunny weather, I look forward to even more than about 13% of our energy coming from solar. Next year, I look forward to offsetting not just my flights but the entire carbon footprint and reducing that total number.
- Setting a goal for mentorship hours. This year I calculate that I spent about 60 hours on mentorship between FutureLink, the WBEC DMV Sage Program, Seed Spot, Dress for Success and Hera Hub Guru Hours. I would love to get this number up to 100 hours. A fellow business owner I know sets a goal for 300 hours every year but I’m not sure that I’m there yet. He said that being intentional helps him reach out to people to help him hit his target, which is the only marketing that he does. I’ll try it and let you know how it works out.
What’s new for 2024
An exciting development for B Corp certified companies is that the standards will be changing starting in 2024. Whereas now there are 5 impact areas that companies are measured against, starting in 2024 there will be 10.
I have reviewed some of the materials, especially those related to Human Rights an Purpose and Stakeholder Governance. As a small business in this network, I’m not sure what those changes will mean for me but I’m keeping track so I can educate myself and my clients.
What are the takeaways?
As a B Corp certified company, I’m looking forward to incorporating my overall sustainability and impact goals into these annual reports.
It’s a good time to add the sustainability metrics above and some additional B Corp spend and activities that will ideally boost revenues and impact.
I appreciate doing this exercise every year because what gets measured gets attention, and eventually gets done. Setting these goals, writing them down, and sharing them with you, is a great way to reflect on the year and set the tone for the new one.