Leandra Nisbet, Owner, Stingray Advisory Group LLC
It's relatively common for people to say something is the best in the world, sometimes without much regard for what they're saying. B Lab, however, takes an opportunity each year to bestow the title of Best For the World on B Corporations that, based on their B Impact Assessment scores or the improvement of their scores, are "creating the greatest impact through their businesses." Their continued focus on specific core elements allows these organizations to not only be the best at what they do but also to be the best in how they do it and have a substantial impact.
Currently, there are over 3,100 certified B Corporations (B Corps) throughout the world. The 2019 Best For The World honorees were recognized in six categories: workers, environment, customers, community, governance, changemakers, as well as an overall category. Of the businesses recognized, nine of them were in Michigan. We had the opportunity to connect with two of this year's honorees – Higher Grounds Trading Co. and Brewery Vivant to learn a little bit more about them and what they’re doing to make their businesses a force for good.
Stingray Advisory Group: Tell us a little bit about your organization.
Jennifer Yeatts, Director of Coffee & Licensed Q Grader, Higher Grounds Trading Co.: HG's story began about 17 years ago with a trip to Mexico. Our co-founder, Chris Treter, met the coffee farmers of the Maya Vinic cooperative during a post-graduate internship in Chiapas. That year became a catalyst for a coffee company, an importing cooperative, a non-profit, and, more importantly — access to rights for coffee farming communities across the globe.
Kris Spaulding, President & Owner, Brewery Vivant & Broad Leaf Local Beer: We have two brands under one umbrella company - Brewery Vivant, which opened in 2010 and Broad Leaf Local Beer which opened this year!
SAG: Why is the B Corp designation important to you and your organization?
JY: We believe that a circular economic model is the vehicle required for change within the specialty coffee industry, and B Corp certification helps us tell that story through the lens of a triple bottom line. When we operate along a continuous circle across our supply chain, valuing people and the environment as much as we value profit, we can build wealth and expertise alongside coffee farmers, rather than in spite of them.
KS: Many reasons, but primarily I like the continuous improvement model that you enter into through certifying and then recertifying every three years. Each time we go through the assessment, there are new things to think about and implement into our business. A close second is that I value having a third party verify that we are doing the work to be sustainable, proving that we aren't just talking about it without having sustainability truly embedded in our company.
SAG: What does your Best For the World recognition mean to you?
JY: Being recognized in the Community category is directly in line with everything we strive to represent in the world of specialty coffee — and in the world in general. Our community is both local and global, and we’re honored to be named as one of the companies doing our work in a way that truly benefits communities everywhere.
KS: We have always had a strong focus on our environmental footprint, which is a result of both the product we make being so dependent on the quality of our earth and my background on the Design for Environment team at Herman Miller prior to opening Vivant. It is great to see that focus be recognized and only encourages us to do more!
SAG: What do you value about participating with the Good For Michigan initiative?
JY: We love standing with other Michigan businesses and differentiating ourselves as a smart, sustainable, good-for-the-world choice for consumers in the Midwest and beyond. We love connecting with other folks who care about the same things we do, and that’s exactly what Good For Michigan does for us.
KS: Most of all, I value the relationships we have built with other values-aligned business leaders. They are a great sounding board when I have decisions to make that would benefit from an outside perspective. I also love the programming that Local First is doing around sustainability since there is always more I can learn.
SAG: What is one thing other local businesses can start to do today to move one step closer to being better for our community and the world?
JY: Look closely not only at big impacts but at small ones too. The little things add up, like creative benefits for employees, choosing sustainable packaging and printing materials. The small things put us on a path to a big impact as we set an example for other companies who will hopefully follow our lead.
KS: The best first step is to talk to your team and find out what they are passionate about related to sustainability. Whatever they are most passionate about that is also an impact your company makes on the earth, or the community is a great first thing to focus on since there will be energy and enthusiasm propelling it forward.
If you are looking to innovate and create a more inclusive and sustainable organization, now is a great time to review your operations. If you aren’t sure where to get started, consider taking the Quick Impact Assessment (QIA). This complimentary tool allows you to gain a better understanding of various facets of your operations, such as sustainability practices, supply chain management, and general operational aspects. Additionally, it will allow you to see how you compare to other businesses within your industry and provide you with areas for potential growth or change within your company. Once you have your results, engage your team and decide what small steps you can start taking as you move forward.
We’d love to hear how you’re using your business to better our community and the world!
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About Stingray Advisory Group LLC: Stingray Advisory Group LLC is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We help businesses grow. By creating customized solutions, we empower businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools to further their development. To learn more or schedule a consultation, visit www.stingrayadvisorygroup.com. Follow us today on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more helpful tips!