HOW TO BE BEST FOR THE WORLD
A B-Corp’s personal story.
By Maryem Sáder.
We are honored to be part of this distinguished group! And even though every path is unique, we’d like to share a few things that have helped us come to where we are today.
1. We’re all humans: focus on creating value with a human-centered approach
Much has been said about the importance of bringing stakeholders to the table when approaching business or organizational challenges, but having them at the table is not enough. You must learn to create meaningful conversations and develop everyone’s active listening skills to activate creativity and drive innovation.
There are many methodologies to help you do this (no need to reinvent the wheel): from Design Thinking, to Theory U, to Systems Theory, just to name a few. At Emzingo, we have even created full sessions on things like ‘learning to unlearn’ or finding ‘insights for innovation’, to help us understand the basics and the challenges, and uncover effective solutions.
If you want to achieve long-lasting, positive change, you too will need to start digging into these methods to understand if and how they can best serve you and your stakeholders, and learn to get rid of rigid, pre-made solutions born in the (cold) comfort of your office.
2. Stick to your values: it pays off
Emzingo was born as a result of the 2009 financial breakdown, which to the eyes of our founders was basically a result of many years of irresponsible leadership. We decided to work towards developing responsible leaders, who understand that “business, as the most powerful man-made force on the planet, must create value for society, not just for shareholders”, as Emzingo’s Managing Partner, Pablo Esteves, explains.
Four years ago we jumped on the B-Corp wagon and decided to formalize what was already at the core of our business model by committing to the highest standards of responsibility and transparently opening up to independent assessment and certification. Today we are proud to be part of the B Corporation movement, and to be recognized amongst the 2018 Best For Customers, which includes businesses that earned a Customer score in the top 10 percent of more than 2,400 Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment.
It was not always easy, but staying true to our values is what has made us different, and turned us into what we are today. No matter how hard it may seem at certain points, remember, ‘This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.’
3. Don’t be afraid to take risks and become an early adopter
In 2009 everyone seemed to be focusing on the crash of the financial systems, legal gaps and government interventions: the concept of ‘responsible leadership’ was far from being discussed the way it is today.
In the words of Emzingo co-founder and Managing Partner, Drew Bonfiglio: “We decided to focus on people, because we are convinced that by fundamentally changing the mindset of leaders, behavior can change, team leadership can change, and so on throughout an organization, its supply chain, its customers, and ultimately society.”
We chose to follow our own path and focus on creating positive impact in the lives of those around us, and it has definitely paid off. Drew explains: “As many of the old school B Corps say, ‘we were a B Corp before there was B Corp’. Today, I am the co-founder and co-chair of the B Local Boston Board, which has given me the opportunity to personally interact with a lot more B Corps and draw inspiration and motivation from all of the great companies in the Greater Boston area.”
Pablo adds: “Today, the B Corp movement has gained a lot of momentum and global recognition. Bigger and more complex organizations are joining the certification process. As the movement grows, it has become an increasingly powerful agent of change. Being part of the movement has opened a lot of doors for us, has allowed us to better articulate our message, and improve our work.”
So, think big, take risks, look to the future, and don’t be afraid to create your own path. Trends take time to take their form, and early adopters will have the opportunity to actively shape the future as it evolves.
4. Unite and conquer: surround yourself with like-minded individuals and organizations, but don’t be afraid to go out and ‘convert’
We believe in collaboration as a tool for growth, so being part of a group such as the certified B Corporations has had many advantages for us. Emzingo partner, Daniel Pulaski, explains: “it’s good to know that people ‘get it’ and you don’t need to convince them of something that we know and have seen. You are also inspired by others around you who share similar values and ways of doing business. That sense of community is important when you feel like you are swimming against the current. It also challenges us to practice what we preach and make sure that internally, as we run the business, there are processes and procedures in place that hold consistent to what we’re all about.”
But the world is changing, and the way we do business is adapting to new rules that go beyond financial success and into social and environmental responsibility. “Emzingo’s work is essentially to develop a future generation of leaders who will build and lead organizations in the same way that leaders of B Corps do. Being a certified B Corp gives Emzingo as a company the opportunity to share what we do in this context, to leverage the B Impact Assessment to improve our business and our client’s organizations, and to educate professionals and students about an alternative way to do business. It provides a backdrop for the impactful leadership and social impact experiences and training that Emzingo provides its clients”, says Drew.
Remember: business is not a zero-sum game, and if we want to survive, we need to build a new normal, where business success is linked to profits, but also to a positive social and environmental impact. No one of us can do it alone, and now, more than ever, we stress the need to unite and conquer.
5. Look at the big picture — and keep your eye on the ball
Pablo often says that in this complex world, we need leaders who are able to see both the forest and the trees: “I envision a rather complex and extremely challenging future; both environmentally and socially. These factors will have profound influence in the ways that we live, work, educate, conduct business, drive innovation, generate opportunities, — everything. If we are going to make it, we need to build a new normal.”
“Certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economy. Success in the 21st century means achieving high growth and high impact. It means making money and a difference”, he states.
All this requires a personal sense of purpose, a commitment to the global community and the ability to connect and communicate across different cultures. It is no longer enough to focus only on our own, private portion of success. Really successful leaders need to embrace transparency, empathy, meaning and collaboration within their organizations, while also working towards a more environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive future, for everyone in the planet.
Maryem is global brand manager at Emzingo. She lives in Madrid and is passionate about art, music and culture. She also loves nature, traveling, and learning new things.