Business as a force for good!

Why the Best for Rhode Island Initiative Is the Best for Our Business Community

In today’s economy, consumers not only want the best goods and services available to them, but they also want to know that the businesses they support are creating their products in the most ethical way possible. That’s why the Chamber is proud to be a partner in the 2017 Best for Rhode Island initiative.

Best for Rhode Island was launched by Social Enterprise Greenhouse, and as part of SEG’s ongoing commitment to promoting social entrepreneurs, the program challenges businesses statewide to evaluate and enhance how their practices impact workers, the community and the environment.

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Participants will follow standards centered on the B Impact Assessment, a trial developed by B Lab, and be given tips on how they can improve their workflows. B Lab is a nonprofit group devoted to using the power of business as a force for good. Its assessment program is the premier evaluation tool for measuring social and environmental accountability. If businesses meet B Lab’s performance standards, then they are recognized for their efforts by being labeled as a Certified B Corporation (B Corp).

To put it in comparable terms, a B Corp certification is akin to a coffee being certified as Fair Trade or milk being labeled USDA Organic. By using the B Lab assessment as an evaluation tool, Best for Rhode Island is laying the groundwork for our business community to achieve B Corp certification and improve our businesses’ standing in the broader marketplace. The initiative’s organizers put it best when they said businesses should not only strive to be the best in our state but also the best for it. And considering the track record of success for B Corp–certified businesses, taking steps to achieve B Corp status will only prove advantageous for Rhode Island’s business network.

During the Great Recession of 2007 to 2012, for example, B Corp businesses were 63 percent more likely to survive than the average small business. In the later years of this economic downturn, between 2010 and 2011, B Corp jobs grew by over 5 percent when most employment gains in the U.S. stayed flat.

Beyond their economic vitality, B Corp companies also provide excellent benefits for their employees. Retirement plans, flexible schedules, extended vacation time and healthcare for part-time workers are all among the benefits B Corp employees are likely to receive.

When I became its president in 2005, I wanted the Chamber to pursue three pillars of development. We would further a knowledge-based economy built on innovation. We would create our own flourishing entrepreneurial environment that was adjacent to Boston, an existing startup hub. And we would make clear through business attraction marketing that Rhode Island has all the commercial values and attributes that make it a thriving center of industry. I’m pleased to say that we’ve pushed the ball forward in each of these areas, and by supporting Best for Rhode Island we can continue this momentum.

In taking steps to improve not just the way products are created but also how employees are treated, B Corp–certified businesses are leading the pack in today’s innovation economy. By supporting the Best for Rhode Island initiative, the Chamber is making clear that this is the way of the future and creating a path for the state’s businesses to achieve B Corp certification. No longer is business simply about profits; it’s about the impact it has on consumers and workers. Best for Rhode Island is an initiative we’re proud to support as our state’s business community continues to pursue this worthwhile goal.