The following is a guest post from Compass(x) Strategy founder Nancy Goldstein. It has been gently edited and formatted for the RW blog. Enjoy!
What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand … What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who’s up and who’s down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want.
– Dave Eggers
A few years ago, I became pensive about my life and what really matters. After a long career in brand management, where I was marketing breakfast pastries, taco shells and fluted ceramic bakeware, I decided that I wanted my work to have real purpose; I wanted to produce things that are true and will stand over time. In short, I wanted to use my skills for good.
But what exactly does that mean?
It’s a big question. Many companies promote their brands with “We’re green!” or “Our employees are our most important asset!“, but because their behavior doesn’t reflect their claims, no one believes them. No wonder then, that according to the annual Gallup survey, advertising professionals are near the bottom of the ‘most trusted professions’ list, scoring only slightly better than members of Congress.
Four years ago I created Compass(x) Strategy as a brand strategy firm designed to be a force for good. We work with progressive business leaders to create predictable and scalable growth. We want to help those brands that are living their brand’s Reason for Being, or at least striving to get there. Compass(x) was also an opportunity to build a company that was designed to make a positive impact from the outset.
Companies will often align themselves with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments to show the world that they are indeed doing good. But this work is kept separate from the rest of the company, leaving how the majority of people do their jobs every day unaffected, uninformed, and uninfluenced. I didn’t want Compass(x) to just have a few “good programs”; I wanted us to genuinely be one of the good guys, so I made a list of all the things I believed should be built into the company’s DNA, including:
- Build philanthropy into every project, not just a “whatever we want to do at the end of the year” type of thing.
- Provide deep discounts to sustainable startups and small nonprofits so they can get good advice—not just the advice they can afford.
- Teach along the way, so that our clients continue to improve and don’t have to pay us to repeat the same work over and over again.
- Run our website on a server powered by renewable energy, and be environmentally conscious in our everyday decisions.
A few months into the Compass(x) adventure, a friend turned me on to B Corps Community. It was a revelation—it wasn’t just me who was rethinking business—hundreds of other businesses were already a part of this community. These were companies that I have had crushes on for years; I wanted to be a part of it. I took the B Impact Assessment and passed … barely. It was a bit of a shock, because (of course) I thought what I was doing was amazing. Turns out it was merely ‘pretty good‘, which, while frustrating, was really quite motivating. There were so many things I could do at Compass(x), not just make us a bigger company, but make us a better company. And, because the BCorp assessment evaluates companies on practices and behaviors, I knew exactly what better looked like. Challenge accepted!
We worked hard to improve how Compass(x) was run, and when we became re-certified this year, our score went up dramatically. Huzzah! We still have a long way to go, but the path forward is clear and I am motivated to continue to improve.
Here’s to what matters.
Would your company pass the BCorps Assessment? What changes would you have to make to do so? Comment below.