We sat down with GreenSpark Solar COO George McConochie to discuss what exactly it means to be B Corp-Certified, how it impacts business, and why it’s an integral part of our company’s “DNA.”
What was the inspiration behind the decision to become Certified B Corp in 2015?
GreenSpark pursued the B Corp certification because we were entering a growth phase of the business and we wanted to ensure that we held on to the important “special sauce” that had made the company so fun and successful up to that point. The Certification allowed us to bake those sauces into the “DNA” of the company so that we couldn’t abandon them under the pressures of growth, or with the addition of new stakeholders who may not understand the value.
What has the B Corp Certification process pushed GreenSpark to do that the company may not otherwise have done?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts are an example – after the murder of George Floyd and Daniel Prude, we wanted to take immediate action. But our experience with the B Corp process helped us to think of change as a marathon, not a sprint. We wanted to ensure that our change was sustainable and a core part of the business, not just a short term campaign with a start and an end. This long-term mindset led to the creation of an internal committee that is empowered with a substantial budget and leadership support, as well as a consulting partner.
The B Corp certification process has also led GreenSpark to codify employee benefits that exceed State and Federal requirements. In the last six months we’ve increased our minimum wage to $17/hr because of the learning done as part of the B Corp recertification process. B Corp measures compensation on “a living wage” rather than the poverty wage context used to justify State and Federal standards. A living wage is specific to each locality and individual demographic characteristics.
What would you tell other local businesses interested in becoming a B Corp?
Running a business in this post-pandemic and extremely divided world is about so much more than a financial bottom line. People need to see the higher meaning of their work because the tradeoffs are so much more stark – care for others such as children, elders, friends or family, the health costs and risks, etc. The B Corp certification helps to create a more holistic business that views a wider variety of stakeholders, benefits, and impacts. In the vacuum of unified and effective political leadership, people trust businesses more than ever. If business is truly going to accept this mandate of serving public interests and creating community benefits, then the way business owners view their own accountability must evolve.
Why has GreenSpark chosen to spend the money and resources to maintain B Corp certification?
Prospective employees demand that employers care about more than just the bottom line. The B Corp logo is a huge neon sign for our recruiting programs, showing candidates that we walk the walk and aren’t just advertising what people want to hear. The certification provides proof of our sincere commitment to people (our employees, customers, and community) and to the planet. From an internal value perspective, the certification process acts as an audit of our business practices, policies, and philosophies. It forces us to constantly examine how we are operating this business, to seek innovation and improvements beyond the economic fundamentals of bringing in money and controlling costs. The result is a more holistic and resilient business aimed at long-term sustainability rather than short-term financial gains.
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