Becoming a B Corp: Behind the Scenes With Ariel’s CEO
“The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders—it has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet.” – Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia
Today, there are more than 2,000 B Corporations in more than 50 countries with one unifying goal—to redefine success in business. Organizations all around the world are coming together to create a true impact, and Ariel is proud to be a part of the movement. Today, we’re taking you behind the scenes with our CEO, Sean Kavanagh, to learn more about becoming a B Corp and what it means for the future of business.
Q: Certified B Corporations’ main goal is to redefine success in business. What does success look like to you?
Three things, really.
- Delivering valuable work for our clients that’s helping them to succeed.
- Engaging in work that matters. We believe that helping others to communicate authentically is important and meaningful work.
- Making a difference in the world beyond our corporate clients. We do that by giving back to the community through Ariel Serves.
I’ve recently learned that life is a fleeting thing not to be wasted. To me personally, success is pursuing something useful, valuable, meaningful, and interesting with the time you have.
Q: What does being a B Corp look like in practice for Ariel?
We deliver results to our clients, but Ariel has always been more than a P&L. We’re helping people create better workplaces while encouraging our team to lead full lives. We provide flexibility, benefits, and the chance to be active in the local community. If you commute more than an hour to work, you have the choice to telecommute two days a week (also helping with our carbon footprint). In the summer, we close business at 2:00 p.m. on Fridays. We appreciate our team and want to help them succeed in any way we can, both at work and at home.
Q: How has becoming a B Corp positively influenced the team?
It’s certainly been nice to be recognized for what we’re trying to do here but, to be honest, employee loyalty existed before we became a B Corp. What it did do was give us the ability to celebrate our culture and show that we are in fact a great place to work. We’re extremely proud to be a B Corp, and it’s certainly increased our employee engagement. Yes, we want people to do business with us because we do great work. But we’re also a company with a conscious. If you choose to work with us because you share our same values, all the better.
Q: How do you implement B Corp initiatives internally?
We have a set of core principles that guide everything we do:
- Making a Difference
- Embracing Authenticity
- Developing Connections
- Expressing Creativity
- Practicing With Integrity
- Sparking Transformation
Keeping these in mind helps us fulfill our ultimate mission, which is to create a world where people of all levels can access their ability to influence and lead themselves and their organizations forward. These principles are built directly into our team’s annual goals and objectives. Not only does our team have business objectives, but also goals that reflect a particular principle or value of their choosing. We also require that everyone participate in at least two service days per year, completed on company time.
Q: Tell us a bit about what it took to become B Corp.
The process was extremely involved, I’ll say that much. The application included questions about our finances, internal HR, compensation, product, and more. We always thought Ariel was a pretty spectacular place to work—the B Corp assessment held us to the fire. We were able to hold up a mirror and ask ourselves some probing questions to identify our gaps and, ultimately, hold ourselves accountable. It was great to gain some perspective on what other companies are doing and where we had room for improvement.
Q: Why are companies pursuing B Corp status? Why does it ultimately matter today?
B Corp is a global movement of people using business as a force for good and companies are competing to be best for the world. That is a beautiful thing and a noble pursuit. I think the B Corp movement is helping organizations come back to their roots and remember that profit is important, but alone, it’s not enough. The B Corp movement is helping people remember that you can have it all (a great product, a happy team, strong profits, a better community), and that you don’t have to compromise your integrity in the process.
B Corp is also providing socially responsible businesses with a way to differentiate themselves in the market. 8-in-10 global citizens consider corporate social responsibility when deciding where to invest their resources. Doing good not only builds a better world, it also helps bring your team together and boost morale. Today’s employees are looking for more than a job—they want to make an impact in the world. Treating your people well and helping them find purpose will help you build a more sustainable business.
Q: How would you say Ariel is helping businesses become a force for good?
To me, a better world means more authentic communication. People matter. Words and actions matter. You can sell anything with clever, dishonest communication by playing into people’s fears—but we believe in something bigger. It all comes back to this idea of presence and the ability to connect with others. The world is a better place when people empathize and communicate based off a firm understanding of who they are and the feelings or thoughts of the people around them.