It’s official! 5 Lakes Energy is now a Certified B Corporation. Reaching this important milestone reinforces our firm’s ongoing commitment to the “triple bottom line” – a measure of sustainability that includes financial, social and environmental measures. We join nearly 2,000 companies worldwide across 130 different industries in the rapidly growing Certified B Corporation, or B Corp, movement. 5 Lakes Energy is just the 14th company to become a B Corp in Michigan. (We hope to see many more Michigan companies pursue B Corp status – will you join us?)
Why pursue B Corp certification? 5 Lakes Energy had several reasons. First, like many companies nowadays, we are mission-driven and strive to be a responsible corporate citizen. Frankly, B Corp status sets us apart in the often-confusing arena of corporate social responsibility (CSR) where green washing is all too common. As a B Corp, we can lead by example from the front. An increasing number of customers, investors, communities, opinion leaders, reporters, and others share our core values and are paying more attention to the behavior of corporate actors. Our B Corp certification allows us to show that we walk the talk.
Also, being in the B Corp network gives us access to the latest CSR best practices and examples of peers who have implemented them. The public’s growing demand for responsible business will only get stronger; firms will face higher expectations for social and environmental performance over time. Being recognized as a B Corp sends the right signal to the most talented potential employees who want to work for companies they admire.
In addition to these external benefits, what we have learned about our company has been worth the journey so far. To become certified, we worked with B Lab, a global nonprofit that develops and verifies the relevant standards for private firms to meet. These standards cover social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. An initial online assessment followed by a more in depth evaluation—the entire process took about four months—required 5 Lakes Energy to conduct a whole-systems investigation. It gave us a structured approach to conduct a thorough self-evaluation, understand the impact of our activities on the outside world, and reflect on how we can improve our performance and live our values.
The B Impact Assessment considers the impact of a company’s entire operation in the areas of governance, employees, community, and the environment. To ensure accountability—and thus credibility—detailed documentation is required as evidence that the firm is doing what it thinks or says it is doing. Showing your work is always good organizational practice, and B Corp fosters this habit. What’s more, it sets us on a path of continuous improvement because recertification against an evolving standard is required every two years.
Points available for certification reflect performance in a number of specific areas. For example, in the “Community” category, we earned points for at least half of our governing body being women or individuals from underrepresented populations; in the “Workers” category for having a low ratio of compensation between the highest and lowest paid employees; and in the “Environment” category for having a virtual office and a plan for good environmental stewardship.
Now that 5 Lakes Energy is a Certified B Corporation, we are excited to continue the journey and we hope to bring more Michigan businesses along with us. We look forward to joining with our B Corp peers to trade information and ideas for continuous improvement. And we’re starting to help other businesses begin the certification process.
The 5 Lakes Energy team is proud to be the newest member of the Michigan B Corp community. We are thrilled to be able to highlight our commitment to the welfare of stakeholders beyond simply our financial health. In becoming a Certified B Corporation, 5 Lakes Energy has joined a growing community of likeminded businesses seeking to, as B Lab puts it, “inspire all businesses to compete not only to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world.”
We embrace this challenge!