Right now I’m seeing intersections between my passions for B Corporations and credit unions every day, and so I decided it was time to share. Last year I wrote about Why PixelSpoke became a B Corporation, but I have since realized that I failed to talk about the connection between our biggest client group (credit unions) and B Corporations themselves.
A quick primer: B Corporations are a fast growing group of for-profit companies that pass a certification every 2 years that evaluates our impact on the planet, our community, our workers, our customers, and our governance and transparency. And we get randomly audited, just like those visits you get from the NCUA. It’s the brainchild of a non-profit, The B Lab, and the whole process they have built is an audacious and desperately-needed step to help business evolve to meet the challenges of the modern world.
Here are 3.5 reasons why I think credit unions are missing the boat by not getting more actively involved in their local B Corp community.
#1 – You are built into our standards
B Corporations get points on their certifications for using local financial institutions. Why? Because everything that you love about credit unions — your commitment to serving members ahead of profits, your commitment to community impact, and your commitment to creating healthy work environments — lines up with being a more responsible for-profit business, which is what the B Corporations are all about. Another way to look at it: if we bank with GloboBank.com, we get penalized for it in our system of measuring impact.
#2 – We share the same values
Credit unions and B Corporations share a similar ethos. We can do good and do well. We can use market tools to create competitive products and build organizations that grow through serving our customers or members. Check out the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence and compare it to the 7 co-operative principles. We’re not the same, but we sure do value a lot of the same things. As just one example, PixelSpoke just celebrated giving our 1,000th micro-finance loan to entrepreneurs in developing countries through Kiva.
#3 – B Corporations are good at marketing themselves
Our entire movement is predicated around helping the good guys to find each other and thrive together. Sound familiar? And we’re really good at marketing ourselves because most of us have really fun products with passionate customer bases. This coming Wednesday, the sustainable brewery Hopworks Urban Brewery is releasing a new, B Corporation-inspired beer with a party at a local bar. Why wouldn’t a credit union ask to show up and support the movement? And isn’t this going to be way more fun and effective than what a credit union marketer spends most of their day doing?
#3.5 – It’s like a nutrition label for a potential supplier
This is a bonus, and I’m sure I look biased since we work with the credit union industry. But it’s no different than how I look at working with credit unions…I feel good about working with a credit union as a general rule of thumb. There are good and bad ones, but participation in the credit union movement means the good guys far outweigh the bad guys. With B Corporations you get a nutrition label for a potential supplier (see ours here), and you already know that we have committed to a triple-bottom-line approach to business that holds us accountable to our impact on our workers, our community, and our planet — it’s a shortcut to trust. When we need a supplier at PixelSpoke, the first place we look to is the list of other B Corporations, though we wouldn’t work with every B Corporation.
The opportunities for collaboration seem endless to me. What if you built the B Corp quick assessment (less than 20 minutes) into your small business loan standards? What if you gave your suppliers an incentive to become B Corporations (since they can’t become credit unions)? That’s what larger B Corporations like New Seasons and Ben and Jerry’s have been doing with their supply changes. What if you took the full B Corp assessment yourself to see how you could improve your impact on the planet, in your community, or with your workforce?
The B Corp community is young, vibrant, and rapidly growing. The credit union movement is established, full of passionate advocates, and looking to expand its impact. It seems like a perfect fit to me.