Have you ever found yourself trying to explain what a sustainable, triple bottom line – people, planet and profit – business looks like? While awareness has improved over the years, a majority of common, everyday folks haven’t a clue what a triple bottom line business does or why it exists. B-Labs and the B-Corps certification are changing all of this. SMSBF is also playing a role in building awareness of triple bottom line business and the benefits of B-Corp certification.

In August, SMSBF held, “Being the Change”, the second of our Member Guest events for 2017. “Being the Change” focused on B-Corp certification and featured presentations by Elissa Hillary, President of Local First and Liesl Eichler Clark, a co-founder and partner at 5 Lakes Energy. “Being the Change” provided an in-depth look at the history and evolution of B-Corps certification and what it takes to become certified as a B-Corp. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion with the presenters, which was moderated by Noel French, principal and founding attorney at Thrive Legal, PLLC.

Elissa Hillary got things started with a discussion about the origin of Local First. She also talked about the relationship Local First has with B-Labs, the non-profit that certifies B-Corps. Local First was established by business owners on the west side of Michigan in 2003. Since then, it has grown into a thriving organization whose mission is to “lead the development of an economy grounded in local ownership that meets the basic needs of people, builds local wealth and social capital, functions in harmony with our ecosystem, and encourages joyful community.” A little over eight years ago, Local First began working with B-Labs to develop their “Local First Quick Impact Assessment”, which provides businesses with an accessible way to begin understanding what triple bottom line value looks like. From there, the next step is achieving B-Corps certification.

Liesl Eichler Clark, of 5 Lakes Energy began her presentation by covering the mission and purpose of 5 Lakes Energy, a “Michigan-based policy consulting firm dedicated to advancing policies and programs that promote clean energy, sustainability and the environment”. 5 Lakes was co-founded a little more than five years ago and now has six full time employees. 5 Lakes is a certified B-Corp and Liesl gave an overview of how the team achieved and maintains certification.

Achieving B-Corps certification meant taking a hard look at where 5 Lakes stood and what it would take to become certified. By comparison to manufacturing or processing businesses, the environmental footprint – the planet side of things –  of most consulting firms doesn’t standout. From a “people”, or social perspective, however, 5 Lakes is like any other business: It has opportunities for increasing social capital, both within the organization and within the community in which it operates. Developing policy and protocol – documentation and processes – that defined and improved the ways in which 5 Lakes engages with its team members proved to be the area where most of the work took place to achieve certification.

Wrapping up the event included a highly engaging panel discussion. Many of the attendees had specific questions about the certification process and the insights Elissa and Liesl had about gaining B-Corp certification. If you have questions about B-Corp certification, or would like to connect with Elissa and Liesl, click here to access Local First’s Contact page and click here to access 5 Lakes Energy’s Contact page.

Being the Change was a very successful event for SMSBF. The Forum is also excited to be working with the B-Labs organization to further promote B-Corp certification in the Southeast Michigan region. Look for more to come from SMSBF about B-Corp certification.

Our Member Guest events offer great opportunities to connect, discover and learn about triple bottom line business in SE Michigan. Don’t miss our upcoming, “Building Community with Land Based Businesses” event, which will take place on November 7th, from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm at the MSU Tollgate Farm facility in Novi. Click here [hyper link to web-page] to learn more.