Rise together. B Corps achieving strength in unity
B Corps help align profit with the common good. But the way B Corps do business leads to commercial benefits beyond social responsibility. Luminary’s Cristina Durrant reflects on how her agency sought to work with a B Corp bank, and how doing good can lead to becoming great.
The B Corp mark provides a quick reference for customers looking to support companies that are leading the way in successfully balancing purpose with profit. What is also apparent, however, is that B Corps and other types of organisations that have an authentic and well-articulated purpose are being consistently recognised for commercial achievements and success.
Luminary is an independent digital agency and Certified B Corporation. When it recently came time for the agency to choose a new banking partner, MD Adam Griffith was clear about the way forward. “We wanted to align ourselves with a bank that had the same values and so it made sense to choose a bank that had become a B Corp too. Knowing what it takes to become a B Corp makes it a very quick way to validate the values and approach of an organisation beyond what they say in marketing messages. It's all too easy to talk about how you're focused on the broader good but much harder to prove it. We want our suppliers and partners to have that proof.”
Because of the rigorous accreditation process, B Corp certification helps customers identify the organisations going the extra mile to positively impact the world in B Corp’s five key areas – the environment, corporate governance, customers, employees and community.
A change for the better
After considering a number of very worthy contenders, Luminary ultimately decided to make the switch to Bank Australia. The move has been an overwhelmingly positive decision for Luminary, as Adam explains, “Our experience so far with the actual people at Bank Australia has been night and day different to our previous experience with one of Australia's big banks. The people at Bank Australia are so engaged and helpful.”
Like many other B Corps, Bank Australia is well recognised for its dedication to customer service. And like other B Corp banks, it is focused on responsible banking – including not loaning to, or doing business with, industries that do harm (such as the fossil fuel industry). Bank Australia also actively funds community projects in the environmental and human rights space.
But what role, if any, does purpose play in driving employee engagement, business evolution and profit growth?
Companies that offer purpose outperform other organisations
A Harvard Business School study found that purposeful, value-driven companies outperform competitors. This is largely because purpose, especially if it’s authentically held and well communicated, unites, aligns and motivates employees within an organisation, leading to gains in performance, productivity and innovation. According to the study more than 90% of purpose led organisations deliver growth and profits at or above the industry average.
Rebecca Henderson, Professor at Harvard Business School explains the tangible impact of purpose, “The sense of being part of something greater than yourself can lead to high levels of engagement, high levels of creativity and the willingness to partner across functional and product boundaries within a company, which are hugely powerful.”
People who live their purpose at work are more productive
Another study by McKinsey found that purpose helps organisations both attract and retain talented employees – especially younger workers. People are the lifeblood of most organisations, so having the right talent, and keeping them engaged and motivated is essential to the performance and profitability of the company.
As Bank Australia’s Carly Wright explains, “Having a clear purpose that underpins everything the bank does creates an environment where staff members are all going in the same direction and have a greater sense of why they do what they do."
"From our branch staff to our fraud and IT teams – each person has a role to play in helping the bank be a force for good.”
When employees feel that their purpose and values are aligned with the company they work for, they are more likely to feel emotionally invested in the success of their employer. This leads to greater loyalty, heightened engagement with their work, and a greater likelihood of recommending and advocating for the company.
Purpose leads to business transformation
There’s no doubt that purpose helps both attract and engage the right people to move companies forward. A commitment to the broader good, that’s authentic and alive within an organisation, sets that company apart from its competitors, making it attractive to both customers and employees.
Purpose also helps focus the pathway of the organisation, aligning what it does to what it believes. This mission focus can help set new directions and open new growth opportunities for companies, leading to not just linear growth but expansive transformation.
Becoming a B Corp can be a way to enhance and formalise an organisation’s existing values and purpose inviting both greater visibility and accountability.
It’s also a way businesses can easily identify other organisations that share a vision for a world where companies have responsibilities beyond profit and work means much more than a paycheck.
Why B Corps bring the A game
B Corps bring together individuals with a shared purpose and set of values. This creates a mission mindset within the organisation where employees are more engaged, motivated and emotionally invested in their work and the success of their employer.
Purpose-led organisations also attract and retain talented and motivated employees looking for a workplace that aligns with their personal values, needs and beliefs.
These factors help transform organisations from the inside out, leading to increased productivity, growth, and innovation.
B Corps are also drawn to supporting and partnering with each other because of the shared broader purpose to be a force for good in the world. As Adam from Luminary puts it, “We believe in doing business in a way that supports everyone involved, not just shareholders. So if we can support each other to be bigger and better, then it helps expand that focus and hopefully becomes an example for others to follow. Better together, I say!” And that’s a great outcome for everyone.