And it's not only customers who are paying attention: job seekers are "voting" with their resumes.
A new certification process is making it remarkably easy for job seekers to keep a running tally of for-profit companies that care --about the health of their employees, the community, and the environment -- and those that don't.¬†Within the last couple of years, Patagonia, Etsy, Dansko, and 856 others have been officially¬†B Corp certified by¬†B Labs, a nonprofit¬†that carefully evaluates companies big and small and decides whether the business is socially responsible ‚Äď or, at least, socially responsible enough. While most of the companies that decide to go for the B Corp designation already practice good deedery, the B Corp certification is an important step because it requires a third party stamp of approval.¬†The process works a lot like a LEED certification, which gives businesses the right to call themselves "green." (For another apt comparison, think about what Fair Trade does for coffee.)
Although the companies have to pay between $500 and $25,000 for an annual re-certification, the investment pays dividends in other ways. According to Dansko's CEO Mandy Cabot, who spoke with the Washington Post, the B Corp certification "absolutely has marketing value." Job seekers are seeking out job boards like Care2.com that cull listings of environmentally friendly companies. The B Corp website has a¬†thriving job board, too, that features listings of certified companies.
Instead of a "perk" or an "extra" in the workplace, the values these companies stand by are moving to the center of job search.¬†And it isn't just young go-getters who are gravitating toward B Corps. In 2009, a Kelly Services survey showed that members of all generations (90 percent) prefer an employer who looks beyond the bottom line, even when they have to sacrifice another aspect of their career. Roughly half of all workers surveyed would "forego pay or promotion" to work at a good-hearted organization.
Even companies like Ben & Jerry's, who have been drawing attention to their own social mission for years, didn't see a wave of interest among job seekers until they received their official B Corp logo -- a B inscribed in a circle. It's a powerful symbol. It's about accountability.
While a company's goal used to be either to make money or do good, that distinction is fading -- probably because no business is hidden or off limits anymore with social media at-the-ready. Even seemingly transparent money-makers like Goldman Sachs, while not going as far as becoming B Corp certified, are touting their dedication to volunteering and their ability to forge a deeper connection with work.
I sense this is only the beginning. And that's a good thing!