Skip to main content

Women B Corp Leaders: Using Business as a Force for Good

Online • June 28, 2016

​In order for a company to make a difference as a B Corp, it needs a strong leader at its helm with big ideas and the determination to see them come to life. Join us as we talk to the women leading B Corps.

Summary

00:00 Kristy Wallace: And thank you to all of you for joining us here today. If you're like me, when Ellevate was thinking about becoming a B Corp, I read all the information, I learned what it meant, but was most impactful was talking to the businesses that had already become a B Corp. Hearing from their leaders, understanding why they made that decision, the impact on their business just from an internal perspective with their values, their culture, their company, their external branding and marketing and voice, and really where they see this movement going. So if you don't know what a B Corp is, it's similar to what fair trade might be to coffee or organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit companies that are certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. So collectively, the over 1,700 companies that are B Corps, including Ben & Jerry's, FC Patagonia, and companies that you're gonna hear about today, we lead a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good. So very excited about that and I wanna get straight into speaking with some of the very inspirational and impactful women that we have on the phone today.

01:24 KW: So what I'm gonna ask is for each of our presenters to quickly introduce herself and her company. I'll start with Ellevate, so I'm Kristy Wallace, I'm the President of Ellevate Network. Many of you are members of the network, we are a global professional women's network committed to closing the gender achievement gap in business by giving women a community to lean on and learn from. We became a B Corp just this past year and we did it because we are very committed to our mission and using our mission to drive our business. And that's not just, although it's very important to focus on the impact we can have on women in business, but we also wanna be a great business to work for, we wanna be a great business for our community, and we wanna think about the environment as well. We want everything that we do to really drive a social initiative and a social change. That's why we went down this route. Next I'd love to introduce Shamini Dhana. And Shamini, if you wouldn't mind saying a few words about yourself as well as your company.

02:29 Shamini Dhana: Thanks Kristy. Good morning from Sausalito, California. So my name is Shamini Dhana and I'm the founder and CEO of Dhana, Inc. Dhana, Inc was launched in 2008 and currently it is an award-winning fashion brand for our youth. Dhana, Inc is an ethical fashion brand committed to celebrating our global connections between people and our planet through the medium of clothing. And we use 100% organic cotton fabric and low impact dye and we adopt fair trade, ethical, and sustainable principles throughout our supply chain when we use our partners. Currently we have a signature line and the clothing is offered to both boys and girls youth from zero to 16 years old. Dhana became a certified B Corp in 2013 and we truly believe that every day you put something on yourself which is the peak of clothing that has the potential of connecting you to people and planet across the globe. In many of the cases, most industry who employ people just like in the fashion world, 80% of all employees mostly in developing countries are women, and so one of about six people today on this earth work in conjunction in the fashion industry. And so we believe that the social impact and the social good that can be done through fashion is phenomenal.

04:24 KW: Thank you Shamini. That's fantastic and we look forward to hearing more about some of the efforts that you've undertaken with Dhana. Next up, we have Macey Howard, a sales and online marketing associate with Teatulia Organic Tea. Hi Macey, if you wouldn't mind introducing yourself.

04:42 Macey Howard: Hi, so it's Macey. I'm filling in for Linda, our CEO and co-founder, she had to run to a meeting this morning, so she feels bad she couldn't make it. I'm the digital marketing manager for Teatulia. We are a 100% organic tea line. We're one of the only tea companies who has their own garden. We're located in, we're in Denver, Colorado but our tea garden is in Northern Bangladesh and it was started as a way to give back to the women of Bangladesh, which is one of the poorest countries. We have a cattle lending program to give cows to the women and they pay back the loan on the cows by giving cow dung that we use in our garden, so it's a really sustainable business practice. And that's how we got started and how we still like to turn the business today.

05:30 KW: Thanks Macey. And Melinda, thank you Melinda for joining us. I know you are in the midst of the final stages for a big event you have coming up, so we'd love to hear about that too. So Melinda is the founder and CEO of Change Catalyst.

05:44 Melinda: Hi, thanks. I'm excited to be talking about this today. Thanks for having us. So Change Catalyst is focused on supporting sustainable and inclusive innovation around the world, so we do that through startup programs, we work on developing inclusive startup ecosystems around the world, not just domestically, but also internationally, to really help develop companies that are inclusive and sustainable from the beginning through entrepreneurship work, work with entrepreneurs, work with investors, and work with developing a healthy startup ecosystem. And then we also have tech inclusion programs and the one that we're working on today is Tech Inclusion New York, where we're bringing together people across the whole tech ecosystem to talk about and learn from each other around solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech.

06:48 Melinda: So we have a career fair tomorrow actually, bringing lots of... It will have about 20 different tech companies hiring for diverse candidates in tech and then we'll have about 600 diverse candidates looking for tech jobs and so our goal there is to really is to mesh diverse talents with the tech companies that care about hiring diverse talents. And then the second day, on Thursday, is focused on a full day conference for really exploring deep solutions to diversity inclusion in the tech space through... So we look at the whole ecosystem of tech from education, from policies, we have several people coming from both the White House and local policymakers like the New York CTO, Minerva Tantoco, and also entrepreneurship. So we have a startup showcase where we have 11 different entrepreneurs pitching on stage to investors and then also just the whole ecosystem, really building that whole ecosystem more healthily. So yeah, those are the things that we're doing right now, madly getting ready for. [laughter]

08:07 KW: I feel your pain, so thank you, thanks for joining us today. And so we're gonna move a little fast, I have tons of questions that I want to ask to this esteemed panel and I know many of you on the call today have your own questions, we wanna give you an opportunity to do so. As Joanna mentioned at the beginning of the call, you can use the chat function to ask questions and we'll be sure pose them to the panel at the end of this session.

08:37 KW: So the first thing I wanted to ask you about is your corporate values. For those we didn't get too deep into this during the introduction, but companies that become certified B Corps go through a very rigorous, but I think it is hugely impactful and interesting process of completing... Questionnaire is not the right word for it, an assessment of your organization. You're looking at how your business policies impact your workers, you look at how your environmental footprint, your community, your customers and I know for us at Ellevate, and particularly myself, filling that out, it really helped to reaffirm that many of our values are in the right place and something that we have built a good foundation and it also helped us to create new policies and new procedures to better our business. So I'd love to hear from you a little bit about the impact on your corporate values and really the importance you've placed on that and how you are measuring that impact. So Melinda, if you wouldn't mind answering first?

09:56 Melinda: Sure. So we've been a B Corp actually since 2012 when we first incorporated and our values... The B Corp community is right in line with our values and for the most part, we are actually doing the work that we would do anyway without the B Corp certification. So the reason that we really got involved in the B Corp community is to really expand and normalize the idea of having a more sustainable ecosystem of companies around the world. So it's really about supporting the movement for us and that's one of our core values, is really developing ecosystems that are healthy and sustainable, business ecosystems that are healthy and sustainable around the world. So having said that, we have been surprised at how it has helped us... Taking the B Corp assessment has helped us to hold ourselves accountable to some of the things that we think we're doing and we know we wanna do, but maybe aren't doing quite as well as we could. And it's for sure made us be really conscious of our supply chain and what kinds of vendors are we using. How are we treating our employees in a way that's really in line with our values? So it's holding us true to those values, more than we thought it would, that was a surprising element of that.

11:46 KW: That's really fascinating and I think once you... I agree once your really using that as a benchmark and the values as a benchmark and you start to think through your business processes it can be very enlightening. Shamini, what experiences have you had?

12:06 SD: Yeah, so tagging onto the discussion which is a great one by the way, and I can't be more thrilled to talk about be the change and all the B change makers on this call. The way Dhana has inculcated it's value system in alignment with the B Corp declaration, over and above the fact that it's value system just reflects so well with people and planet. So the triple bottomline approach which is businesses can be used for force for good, not only to promote it's own self and what it does and offer of products and services but also to be able to impact people and planet in a very phenomenal way, deep seeded way is what Dhana is all about. Everything in it's existence has to have all those three elements and over and above that, it is with passion and purpose. But let me say one thing over and above the fact that we are a certified B Corp and we use the rigorous assessment tool, the four areas that Dhana values come to bear in alignment with the B Corp declaration and the B Corp community. And one of it is the whole endeavor of being transparent. Transparency to us does not just mean our messaging, but it is the ability then to go beyond the point-of-sale. So so much of our discussion today in the world of commerce is, "What happens to you and the customer and the product after you buy something?"

14:06 SD: However, the discussion has not shifted to the supply chain and before the point-of-sale and we are making that happen and I do believe that B Corps have that mandate, where transparency in supply chain come to bear in a very, very fundamental way. What allows us then is to connect our customers to our workers and the way we do that is to communicate through social media and all the different social media tools so that these transparency principles come through from story telling all the way to giving you a glimpse of how they feel. The second one of course, is to commit to honoring all our workers along the way so that the customers know for a fact that what they are buying with their decision-making powers, they're endorsing brands who have then the ability to commit to a fair wage living standard. And then finally, we are all about celebrating our connection with the planet. And when you celebrate this as a core value we truly believe you have deep respect for all life forms on earth. So therefore as impactful as we may be on a daily basis, we need to see then, how we're impacting the environment as we make the products.

15:44 KW: Thank you. I love that and it's clear that you really have put a lot of thought into your values and how you use that to guide not just your internal business structure and offering but then also the external representation of that. And Macey so I'm very interested to hear from you, Shamini and Melinda are both the founders and CEO's but you as an employee of the organization, it's a great perspective to hear how you feel the B Corp certification has shaped the values of your business.

16:21 MH: Yeah, definitely I think both brought up really good points. First thing Melinda, what you said is we already had these factors in place but B Corp has found a way to shine the light on, "Here's what we're doing." And just to be able to tell our story a little bit better. So we are all about having an awesome team, awesome product but that also gives back to people in the land and the environment. Like I said before we started as a social business meant to give jobs to the women of Bangladesh. We lend out cows to them and they repay the loan with cow dung that we use for the garden and once the loan is repaid they can keep the cow, milk and any of the calves that she has. And this is unheard of but some women's husbands in Bangladesh have been able to quit their jobs and start working for their wives, which is something that is really unheard of there. We also have a literacy program to teach the women and children basic math and reading skills. It's really cool to hear about stories from the women that a lot just wanted to learn how to write their name or how to count so they know they're not being ripped off at the market.

17:22 MH: And we've lifted over 3,000 women out of poverty so far. So the garden used to be a desert and now bringing back... Starting the tea garden has restored the land and brought back wildlife that had once gotten extinct. And it's cool that the garden is not sustainable but it's restorative and the thing about the packaging, it's biodegradable we don't use excess packaging 'cause we don't wanna... We want to create as little waste as possible. And that way it's really easy to be transparent, so especially for me as a digital marketer, a lot of times the companies with marketing they have to tiptoe around what they're promoting, but for us, since we're a B Corp, we really have looked at what we're doing and everything that we do, we're proud of. And so for me, it's really easy to share everything we do because everything is all up to B Corp standards. So that's really cool for me.

18:20 KW: And so Macey, you said that you've lifted 3,000 women out of poverty? Is that correct?

18:26 MH: Yes. In Bangladesh, yeah.

18:29 KW: Wow. That's amazing.

[overlapping conversation]

18:31 MH: Yeah. And it's really cool to see their stories too. We get pictures and videos back from them. It's really neat to see what it's meant for each woman, 'cause each one has their own story. And that's also how we measure impact, it started as a way to give women jobs and that's kind of what we feel we're about today. That's how we measure what we're doing is how many people we can help.

18:53 KW: And I did also want to point out... And this is true for everybody on the call today, but I'm gonna use Teatulia as an example. You're doing great things, you're clearly having an impact on the women in Bangladesh, lifting them out of poverty, helping them build a business and a life and literacy. But you're also a very highly regarded consumer brand. I saw, when I was doing my research, you're on the top list on brides.com for like the best tea and you're really respected for the product that you are creating and not just for the impact that you're having. And so it's very possible and attainable to be a for-profit business that's making money, that's doing good, and creating great product. And that must make your job a little bit easier, huh?

19:47 MH: Yeah, definitely. We have a really good product and that's what we're about, we're definitely a business trying to... Selling product but there's a mission behind it too. I think that's also where the quality comes from is that we're doing everything right for the land as well. It's all natural farming, we use no pesticides. A lot of the tea in the tea industry is sprayed with pesticides and tea is never washed before it goes in your cup, and so that's why having pesticide free is huge and a lot of people don't know that. So I think that's also why we have such good products because our practices are really friendly.

20:22 KW: Fantastic, thank you. So we touched on this a bit in the earlier conversation but looking at your external presence, we've read... I've read a lot about millennials, the millennial generation is much more invested in and interested in working for companies with strong social missions. When you look at customers and investors and the media that want to feel good about the companies that they're promoting or they're putting their money behind, that they're spending their money with. How have you seen... And we just talked a little about Teatulia, but Shamini I would like to hear how you've seen, maybe not your external B Corp status but your mission driven business to have a positive impact on your external presence.

21:15 SD: Sure. And thank you for showing that slide Kristy and Ellevate for shouting out Dhana. So those quotes are coming from the recently launched B Magazine that are out on stands in most grocery stores today. Dhana was highlighted and featured in their premiere issue together with our partner in Mandela in India. So today, we have over 200 women workers in India and Pondicherry and they are being impacted every day with a living wage and benefits such as retirement benefits and health benefits. What this has done is opened a whole conversation and dialogue with our customers as well as our end consumers. So our customers, our stores as well as our consumers, who are what we consider customers too. And the reason is because so much of the branding in the fashion world today is about the messaging and the after the sale, as I spoke about. But so little of them really know the number one fundamental question, which is, "Who made your clothes?" And so, most people don't have this perspective and that fashion and apparel industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after petroleum. And when they come to hear about this factoid, it's alarming.

22:58 SD: And so they and us, every one of us wants to be more conscious, wants to be more impactful. And so by being open and by being transparent, we truly have not only had a massive influx of people wanting to work for a company in the B Corps, including Dhana, but we have more and more demand from stores and boutique stores from all the way from babies to youth who understand the impact, that as long as we care for our young and we're giving them access to information, and the millennials love this because they truly believe that brands should be giving back, we can change the future. We have the ability as a community, as a population, as a species now to take it upon ourselves to use whatever we are making and producing to impact the world for the future generations to come. So the press definitely love brands in the B Corp community, we are one of them. And we're gonna see more and more of that happening. So I can but say enough about the B Corp status because it is really addressing both stakeholders and shareholders simultaneously. Good on people who take on this task and consider it a mandate and a mission.

24:41 KW: Thanks Shamini. And Melinda, you have a very interesting perspective here as well. Not just as a business leader and owner, but by nature of what your business does and Change Catalyst is empowering inclusive and sustainable innovation, so it's not just about creating your company that's having an impact, but helping to support other companies looking to have an impact as well. I'm sure you've a lot of insights on the power of this with regards to an external presence.

25:15 Melinda: Yeah, yeah. The one thing that I think hasn't been addressed yet and what is really powerful about the B Corp community is that it is a community and one of the things that we found surprisingly beneficial is the partnerships and collaborations that we've built both with B Lab itself and also with different B Corps in the community which is essentially... It rises all ships and there's a new magazine coming out that's really highlighting the different B Corps and the different amazing things that B Corps are doing in this space while really redefining business to be both profitable and sustainable. And just a little bit about our relationship with B Lab is one of the things that we found as we're working on diversity and inclusion, and we found that the assessment was maybe not as robust as we would want it be around diversity and inclusion and so we're actually working with B Lab to help develop a more robust assessment for that in the future which has been a great experience for us to really help a whole movement, to really define what diversity inclusion is.

26:45 Melinda: And we also did a workshop at the Bay area, B Corp Leadership Retreat and we'll be working with the B Lab community to make our events inclusive as well as particularly the annual retreat for all B Corps in the fall. It's also given us an ability to really give back to the community and help impact it and to move it forward too. Didn't totally answer your question, but I do think that the community aspect is really a big part of elevating all of us and really giving us opportunities to work with each other and to amplify what we're doing, like this call and this podcast is a perfect example.

27:41 KW: No, absolutely. And I agree with you Melinda, I just did a session at the New York City Leadership Development B Lab, Driving Change Through Leadership and how do we as business leaders not just use our voice and our influence to impact our own organization and our own supply chain and product and offering, but how do we use it to have a larger voice in the conversation. So Ellevate, for example, is we're really focused on closing the gender achievement gap business. We work with many partners to help have a collective power and collective voice, we poll our members every single week to find out what does a community feel on certain issues and we use that data to amplify their voice. I think that there's much that you can do as a leader of a company or as part of an organization that is very mission-driven and socially conscious, to drive change. And so on that note, Melinda, you have an upcoming event which is really convening the tech community. I know you've written extensively as well on topics around technology and diversity and change. What other ways that you're using your influence to have an impact and drive change?

29:10 Melinda: Yes. We do, both Wayne and I and my two co-founders, Laura, Wayne, and I do a lot of speaking and also we do a fair amount of travel. This year I've traveled to India to teach an entrepreneurship boot camp for 325 women, to really... Like I said earlier to really develop a more inclusive ecosystem around the world. So when we do things like that we also work with local investors, local banks with startup ETA developers, accelerators, incubators to help them really develop communities of startups that are inclusive. So going beyond your normal networks to really bring in people of different races, genders, ethnicities, sexual preferences, sexual identification, veterans, different age groups, people with disabilities, so we definitely go above and beyond in helping to make the US ecosystem more inclusive, and also internationally aware where areas are looking at the US tech companies and our particularly Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley as more developing ecosystems.

30:54 Melinda: And there's some good things about that template and there's some not so good things about that template so we can really affect change early when those communities are just forming. And so we do quite a bit of traveling to affect change there. And then with our conferences, we've really expanded this year, we have five different conferences at three different career fairs and two startup showcases to really bring communities across the US together to go deep into making change in their companies and in the tech ecosystem overall.

31:33 KW: When do you sleep?

31:35 Melinda: [chuckle] Well, that's a good question. Right now, not very much.

31:43 KW: That's clearly something... The passion that you're putting a lot of energy and sweat equity into, but it's having an impact and that's what we need. We want change to happen and we need individuals to use their voice to work with other organizations to have a collective voice to really drive that change. So thank you for what you're doing. It's...

32:10 Melinda: Yeah, well likewise.

32:10 KW: Fantastic.

32:12 Melinda: Yeah, likewise. It takes all of us and y'all are doing that as well. It's great being a part of it.

32:18 KW: Thanks. So Macey, from the marketing and media standpoint and thought leadership and having a voice, do you have any insights to share?

32:30 MH: Yeah, definitely. I feel like recruiting new people and having people become aware of us because of our B Corp status, for me I joined Teatulia because they were B Corp, that's what first drew me to them. I was working doing SEO at Harley and RV websites which you just... They weren't very transparent and I didn't feel a personal connection with them at all. And then seeing Teatulia with a B Corp standing, I knew what I was getting, without knowing anything about the company, I knew where their values stood too and same with new customers. One of our big focus right now is college and universities and more kids have been noticing the B Corp logo going to events, and our food service sales manager, he's noticed a lot of college students walking by our booth and saying, "Oh, hey! You guys are a B Corp." And knowing what that means, you get such a short time to tell your story, but me as being a digital marketer, it's really hard to grab the attention of people in such a short amount of time. So having the B Corp logo, especially when more and more people are understanding what that means, it's able to show people what we're about in a really quick and easy way.

33:37 MH: Also about the leadership part that you brought, I think we got a little off topic Kristy. Speaking for Linda, but leading by example is also really big. A lot of tea companies haven't gone organic or haven't really made the change toward going more sustainable. So I think leading by example is really the way we're driving change. Hope that answered your question.

34:01 KW: And I'd have to add... No, it does. Thank you and I do have to add that I think there's so many ways in which we can, we as business leaders, business owners, employees, can have an impact and drive change. And sometimes it's not this huge life changing, policy changing. It can be little things that you do in your own community that have that ripple effect. So, as an example, I was at the Best For New York Awards, B Corp does a "Best For" awards each year and one of the companies that won an award was a electrical company. Electricians, small company based in The Bronx and they pay all the workers a living wage, they provide healthcare and benefits and paid leave for all the workers. They've created policies that are not often implemented in companies similar to theirs and so just by leading from example in that way, they're creating change. There were solar energy companies there that are really focused on bringing environmentally conscious alternatives and solutions to consumers.

35:24 KW: And so there's many ways I think while it doesn't always have to be on the grand scale, it can be within your local community, within your state, within specific special interest groups, where we each have our voice and we have an opportunity to leverage that voice. So I just to wanted to talk about that a little bit 'cause I don't want it to ever seem like it's overwhelming and daunting. It's not. There's so much each of us can do. And Shamini, you I know, are doing a lot and part of what I actually wanted to ask you about Shamini is your movie. I've heard such wonderful things about your movie and that's certainly driving impact.

36:09 SD: Thanks, Kristy. The movie you're talking about is The True Cost movie, which debuted in 2015, last year and it's now all over the world. I'm an associate producer for that and Andrew Morgan is the actual director. It's a response to the Rana Plaza incident. And that's the way that I've helped raise the awareness of what's been going on in the fashion apparel world. I've been through at least 50 screenings now, from Singapore to Bangalore to here in the Bay area, and we hopefully will be using this movie to impact change in our young. I can't but tell you and share with this community how amazing our young and our youth are in response to a movie like this. And the three most important questions they ask is, "How did we get into this mess? Who's responsible? And what can we do immediately?" And there you have it, the essence of our youth and asking very imperative questions. And so as I go around speaking and engaging these minds of the youth, we have amazing solutions and ability to impact change, which is very much in line with being a thought leader. And so The True Cost movie we are hoping to screen, of course, here in the Ellevate network, and I welcome anyone and every one of you to watch it today. It's available on Netflix and all the major channels in all the major languages.

38:05 SD: But the other thing I wanted to say, Kristy, you brought up the whole entire best in the world. There is a September 8th Best for the World awards happening, in September the 8th in Berkeley. So the company's being honored, I will be speaking with other B Corp leaders and there'll be a mentorship event and then an awards ceremony, but also a lot of interesting engagements. The other way that we talk, in Dhana, in terms of the impact, is I sit on the board for the Ethical Fashion Forum, which is based in London, and my source is the for-profit side launching. And this is a forum that shares content as well as information and best practices of companies looking and now sourcing and making change across the globe for the better of people and planet. And so many and many of these companies are geared towards B Corp status and they're already doing good in the world, so there's a lot of drive and momentum in this. And so I cannot but advocate for more people, more women, getting involved.

39:32 SD: And finally, I am a Climate Ride ambassador, which is the only charity event that gives back to people and planet, and one of the 190 beneficiary organizations that we raise money for is the B Corp community. And I've been doing that for the past few years and I've ridden down the California coast three times and, trust me, there's a lot to be said about the B Corp community and it's impact when we start talking about how we can simply ride a bicycle and make change happen by rising to the occasion and talking about the issues. So besides going into schools and high schools here in the US and abroad and just talking to them, Dhana has also launched a campaign called The Wearing the Wool Campaign and giving our youth and women just simple five ways to make immediate impact when it comes to your fashion in your closet. And so there's a lot to be done in the fashion and apparel world and I so thank everyone on this call who are making a difference in their own very small way.

41:00 KW: Thank you, Shamini. So I wanted to... We're at 15 minutes left. I do want to open it up for questions, but one final thought, which is about the network. And Melinda mentioned this earlier, I just wanted to mention this as well. So we've definitely gained a huge network from becoming a B Corp obviously, we value networks. We really understand the impact of having a community to lean on and learn from, be it advice for starting a business, investors in your business, growing your business, getting a job, finding a mentor. There's so many aspects to that. Shamini has been a member of Ellevate since before I've been here, she's one of our biggest supporters and I thank you for that Shamini. And it certainly was a big driver for us becoming a B Corp. And Macey and Melinda, we've met just through the network we've joined through the B Corp community. It's not just a personal journey, it's also a collective journey and it's a great network that's wonderful to leverage for your business, for your growth, for your experiences. But I wanted to open it up for questions, be cognizant of time, Joanna's gonna run the Q&A, but thank you so much to Shamini, to Macy, to Melinda for all that you've offered today. Anything else quickly from either of you that you felt we didn't cover that you wanted to address?

42:40 SD: First of all, I wanted to give Kristy a huge shout-out to becoming and powering through to becoming the champion for B Corp here in Ellevate, but also to say that annually, we meet once a year, it's called the B Corp Retreat and this year it's gonna be held in Philadelphia. And so I look forward to meeting more B Corps and getting this discussion in terms of how we can be a force for change, especially amongst us women when we're there. I believe it's in October in Philadelphia this year.

43:25 Melinda: Wonderful, thanks Shamini. This is Melinda and I would just add that we've talked about all the benefits of being a B Corp, and there are many, many benefits that we haven't talked about. So having said that, it's not easy and there are definitely things that make it tough along the way. The B Corp assessment is not easy and it takes time, but the benefits to us and I think to a lot of companies far outweigh the difficulties in being a B Corp, because it's the way we all need to be doing business in order to have the world that we wanna have in the future. This is really about redefining the way we do business and holding ourselves accountable to doing business better. And it's so important and I'm really proud to be a part of the community and I'm really excited that Ellevate is a new member.

44:33 KW: Thank you, thanks Melinda. We're excited to be a member too, we love it. Yeah, I agree with all of that. So Joanna, I know I'm seeing questions coming in. As a reminder to anyone on the call, if you have a question you can use the chat function to submit it to us and we will get to it. So Joanna, did you want to start with some of that?

45:00 Joanna: Yes, absolutely thank you so much Kristy and thank you to our speakers for an awesome jam session so far. I'm excited to get these questions started. The first one reads, "For those graduates looking to obtain a role at a B Corp after graduation, what skill sets are you looking for in candidates or what type of role do you recruit for?"

45:24 SD: Hi, I'm Shamini, I'll jump in. We have anywhere from graduates doing interns and apprenticeships jobs all the way to starting to look at entry level jobs. But I think for us, the most important thing when you start at Dhana is to really understand where your passion is and why you believe that you can impact the people and planet and what your contribution you'd like to see, if not in the next year but three years down the road. It's tough to know what you wanna do in 20 years time, but we really hone down on the mindset of the candidate as well as the dedication and commitment to the actual cause, let alone of course, the skill set. That's the most important, imperative part is demonstrating that and how you've done that through your lifetime.

46:41 KW: I'd also say, this is Kristy, you check out the B Corp website. They have a listing of all the companies, a directory there. I know, I believe that they work with an organization... Let's see, I was just trying to look up that name right now, that offers a job board for jobs from B Corps as well, so there's definitely some resources out there. But it's always great if you just learn about the company. I'd say look for an organization that's aligned with your values and your interests and that really comes through in the interview, just having that natural curiosity and passion.

47:27 MH: I agree with that. This is Macey, that B Corp job board has been a big help to us. I think also having a combination of loving what the company does, having it align with your values, but also the technical skills. At Teatulia we are a business so having those technical skills along with you care about the company is big.

47:52 Joanna: Awesome, thank you so much ladies. I have a question here that's for Macey. It says, "The impact you've had for women in Bangladesh is absolutely incredible. Does Teatulia have plans for expanding these strategies in other poverty-ridden areas?"

48:08 MH: Good question. So right now, we're based in Bangladesh, so we are expanding doing different programs with the women in Bangladesh. For your question, I'm not sure exactly about expanding. That would be a Linda question. Right now, we're just focused in Bangladesh and how we can help those women. It is one of the poorest countries, so right now our focus is Bangladesh. That's a good question though.

48:37 Joanna: Great, thanks. And this one, I have a question for Melinda. Are you seeing B Corps helping you create an impact on the number of women in leadership positions at companies?

48:54 Melinda: I'm sorry. Say the question again, I missed that.

48:58 Joanna: Sure. Are you seeing B Corps helping you create an impact on the number of women in leadership positions at companies?

49:10 Melinda: I think we're still pretty early as a B Corp community in terms of working together on really affecting change at that level of really working together on empowering women leaders. However, there are definitely some great B Corps that are working on that individually. Change takes time and most companies start from within and that is, if every company started from within, then we would change the world. So we did do a workshop with B Corps during our Bay area leadership retreat to help B Corps really understand what that takes to create changes in their businesses. But no, right now, we're not doing a lot of work to get B Corps to really elevate women's leadership. That's a good question and something that we should do in the future.

50:25 Joanna: Great, thank you so much. And just a quick reminder if you have any last minute quick questions feel free to send that in as we wrap up today, but thank you so much for all of that awesome information to our speakers, and Kristy of course, for being an awesome moderator. And thank you everyone for listening in today. We would still love to hear from you, so if you still have questions for our speakers, please feel free to reach out to info@ellevatenetwork.com, or through our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. And don't forget to sign up for our next jam session in the series, our third and last one on July 12th, where we'll speak to companies dedicated to using their businesses to make the world a better place for women, including health care innovation, investing in female entrepreneurs, and advancement in career and education. This jam session has been recorded, as usual, and will be available on our website tomorrow. Kristy, any parting words?

51:19 KW: No, just thanks to all of you for joining us today and definitely reach out if you have any questions or wanna talk about B Corps further or Ellevate, Dhana, or Change Catalyst, and Teatulia. We're all happy to answer your questions and connect.

51:38 Joanna: Thank you so much. Thank you everybody. Have an awesome day.

51:42 Melinda: Thank you.

51:42 SD: Thank you.

51:44 Melinda: Thanks for having us, bye.

51:46 KW: Bye.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

In order for a company to make a difference as a B Corp, it needs a strong leader at its helm, with big ideas and the determination to see them come to life. 

Join us as we talk to the inspiring women leading B Corps. We'll learn why Millennials are attracted to B Corps for jobs, why impact investors are looking at B Corps for social good, and the importance of making a difference and impact in the world using Business As a Force For Good.

What are B Corps?

B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.

B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,600 Certified B Corps (Including Ellevate Network) from 42 countries and over 120 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

Summary

00:00 Kristy Wallace: And thank you to all of you for joining us here today. If you're like me, when Ellevate was thinking about becoming a B Corp, I read all the information, I learned what it meant, but was most impactful was talking to the businesses that had already become a B Corp. Hearing from their leaders, understanding why they made that decision, the impact on their business just from an internal perspective with their values, their culture, their company, their external branding and marketing and voice, and really where they see this movement going. So if you don't know what a B Corp is, it's similar to what fair trade might be to coffee or organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit companies that are certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. So collectively, the over 1,700 companies that are B Corps, including Ben & Jerry's, FC Patagonia, and companies that you're gonna hear about today, we lead a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good. So very excited about that and I wanna get straight into speaking with some of the very inspirational and impactful women that we have on the phone today.

01:24 KW: So what I'm gonna ask is for each of our presenters to quickly introduce herself and her company. I'll start with Ellevate, so I'm Kristy Wallace, I'm the President of Ellevate Network. Many of you are members of the network, we are a global professional women's network committed to closing the gender achievement gap in business by giving women a community to lean on and learn from. We became a B Corp just this past year and we did it because we are very committed to our mission and using our mission to drive our business. And that's not just, although it's very important to focus on the impact we can have on women in business, but we also wanna be a great business to work for, we wanna be a great business for our community, and we wanna think about the environment as well. We want everything that we do to really drive a social initiative and a social change. That's why we went down this route. Next I'd love to introduce Shamini Dhana. And Shamini, if you wouldn't mind saying a few words about yourself as well as your company.

02:29 Shamini Dhana: Thanks Kristy. Good morning from Sausalito, California. So my name is Shamini Dhana and I'm the founder and CEO of Dhana, Inc. Dhana, Inc was launched in 2008 and currently it is an award-winning fashion brand for our youth. Dhana, Inc is an ethical fashion brand committed to celebrating our global connections between people and our planet through the medium of clothing. And we use 100% organic cotton fabric and low impact dye and we adopt fair trade, ethical, and sustainable principles throughout our supply chain when we use our partners. Currently we have a signature line and the clothing is offered to both boys and girls youth from zero to 16 years old. Dhana became a certified B Corp in 2013 and we truly believe that every day you put something on yourself which is the peak of clothing that has the potential of connecting you to people and planet across the globe. In many of the cases, most industry who employ people just like in the fashion world, 80% of all employees mostly in developing countries are women, and so one of about six people today on this earth work in conjunction in the fashion industry. And so we believe that the social impact and the social good that can be done through fashion is phenomenal.

04:24 KW: Thank you Shamini. That's fantastic and we look forward to hearing more about some of the efforts that you've undertaken with Dhana. Next up, we have Macey Howard, a sales and online marketing associate with Teatulia Organic Tea. Hi Macey, if you wouldn't mind introducing yourself.

04:42 Macey Howard: Hi, so it's Macey. I'm filling in for Linda, our CEO and co-founder, she had to run to a meeting this morning, so she feels bad she couldn't make it. I'm the digital marketing manager for Teatulia. We are a 100% organic tea line. We're one of the only tea companies who has their own garden. We're located in, we're in Denver, Colorado but our tea garden is in Northern Bangladesh and it was started as a way to give back to the women of Bangladesh, which is one of the poorest countries. We have a cattle lending program to give cows to the women and they pay back the loan on the cows by giving cow dung that we use in our garden, so it's a really sustainable business practice. And that's how we got started and how we still like to turn the business today.

05:30 KW: Thanks Macey. And Melinda, thank you Melinda for joining us. I know you are in the midst of the final stages for a big event you have coming up, so we'd love to hear about that too. So Melinda is the founder and CEO of Change Catalyst.

05:44 Melinda: Hi, thanks. I'm excited to be talking about this today. Thanks for having us. So Change Catalyst is focused on supporting sustainable and inclusive innovation around the world, so we do that through startup programs, we work on developing inclusive startup ecosystems around the world, not just domestically, but also internationally, to really help develop companies that are inclusive and sustainable from the beginning through entrepreneurship work, work with entrepreneurs, work with investors, and work with developing a healthy startup ecosystem. And then we also have tech inclusion programs and the one that we're working on today is Tech Inclusion New York, where we're bringing together people across the whole tech ecosystem to talk about and learn from each other around solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech.

06:48 Melinda: So we have a career fair tomorrow actually, bringing lots of... It will have about 20 different tech companies hiring for diverse candidates in tech and then we'll have about 600 diverse candidates looking for tech jobs and so our goal there is to really is to mesh diverse talents with the tech companies that care about hiring diverse talents. And then the second day, on Thursday, is focused on a full day conference for really exploring deep solutions to diversity inclusion in the tech space through... So we look at the whole ecosystem of tech from education, from policies, we have several people coming from both the White House and local policymakers like the New York CTO, Minerva Tantoco, and also entrepreneurship. So we have a startup showcase where we have 11 different entrepreneurs pitching on stage to investors and then also just the whole ecosystem, really building that whole ecosystem more healthily. So yeah, those are the things that we're doing right now, madly getting ready for. [laughter]

08:07 KW: I feel your pain, so thank you, thanks for joining us today. And so we're gonna move a little fast, I have tons of questions that I want to ask to this esteemed panel and I know many of you on the call today have your own questions, we wanna give you an opportunity to do so. As Joanna mentioned at the beginning of the call, you can use the chat function to ask questions and we'll be sure pose them to the panel at the end of this session.

08:37 KW: So the first thing I wanted to ask you about is your corporate values. For those we didn't get too deep into this during the introduction, but companies that become certified B Corps go through a very rigorous, but I think it is hugely impactful and interesting process of completing... Questionnaire is not the right word for it, an assessment of your organization. You're looking at how your business policies impact your workers, you look at how your environmental footprint, your community, your customers and I know for us at Ellevate, and particularly myself, filling that out, it really helped to reaffirm that many of our values are in the right place and something that we have built a good foundation and it also helped us to create new policies and new procedures to better our business. So I'd love to hear from you a little bit about the impact on your corporate values and really the importance you've placed on that and how you are measuring that impact. So Melinda, if you wouldn't mind answering first?

09:56 Melinda: Sure. So we've been a B Corp actually since 2012 when we first incorporated and our values... The B Corp community is right in line with our values and for the most part, we are actually doing the work that we would do anyway without the B Corp certification. So the reason that we really got involved in the B Corp community is to really expand and normalize the idea of having a more sustainable ecosystem of companies around the world. So it's really about supporting the movement for us and that's one of our core values, is really developing ecosystems that are healthy and sustainable, business ecosystems that are healthy and sustainable around the world. So having said that, we have been surprised at how it has helped us... Taking the B Corp assessment has helped us to hold ourselves accountable to some of the things that we think we're doing and we know we wanna do, but maybe aren't doing quite as well as we could. And it's for sure made us be really conscious of our supply chain and what kinds of vendors are we using. How are we treating our employees in a way that's really in line with our values? So it's holding us true to those values, more than we thought it would, that was a surprising element of that.

11:46 KW: That's really fascinating and I think once you... I agree once your really using that as a benchmark and the values as a benchmark and you start to think through your business processes it can be very enlightening. Shamini, what experiences have you had?

12:06 SD: Yeah, so tagging onto the discussion which is a great one by the way, and I can't be more thrilled to talk about be the change and all the B change makers on this call. The way Dhana has inculcated it's value system in alignment with the B Corp declaration, over and above the fact that it's value system just reflects so well with people and planet. So the triple bottomline approach which is businesses can be used for force for good, not only to promote it's own self and what it does and offer of products and services but also to be able to impact people and planet in a very phenomenal way, deep seeded way is what Dhana is all about. Everything in it's existence has to have all those three elements and over and above that, it is with passion and purpose. But let me say one thing over and above the fact that we are a certified B Corp and we use the rigorous assessment tool, the four areas that Dhana values come to bear in alignment with the B Corp declaration and the B Corp community. And one of it is the whole endeavor of being transparent. Transparency to us does not just mean our messaging, but it is the ability then to go beyond the point-of-sale. So so much of our discussion today in the world of commerce is, "What happens to you and the customer and the product after you buy something?"

14:06 SD: However, the discussion has not shifted to the supply chain and before the point-of-sale and we are making that happen and I do believe that B Corps have that mandate, where transparency in supply chain come to bear in a very, very fundamental way. What allows us then is to connect our customers to our workers and the way we do that is to communicate through social media and all the different social media tools so that these transparency principles come through from story telling all the way to giving you a glimpse of how they feel. The second one of course, is to commit to honoring all our workers along the way so that the customers know for a fact that what they are buying with their decision-making powers, they're endorsing brands who have then the ability to commit to a fair wage living standard. And then finally, we are all about celebrating our connection with the planet. And when you celebrate this as a core value we truly believe you have deep respect for all life forms on earth. So therefore as impactful as we may be on a daily basis, we need to see then, how we're impacting the environment as we make the products.

15:44 KW: Thank you. I love that and it's clear that you really have put a lot of thought into your values and how you use that to guide not just your internal business structure and offering but then also the external representation of that. And Macey so I'm very interested to hear from you, Shamini and Melinda are both the founders and CEO's but you as an employee of the organization, it's a great perspective to hear how you feel the B Corp certification has shaped the values of your business.

16:21 MH: Yeah, definitely I think both brought up really good points. First thing Melinda, what you said is we already had these factors in place but B Corp has found a way to shine the light on, "Here's what we're doing." And just to be able to tell our story a little bit better. So we are all about having an awesome team, awesome product but that also gives back to people in the land and the environment. Like I said before we started as a social business meant to give jobs to the women of Bangladesh. We lend out cows to them and they repay the loan with cow dung that we use for the garden and once the loan is repaid they can keep the cow, milk and any of the calves that she has. And this is unheard of but some women's husbands in Bangladesh have been able to quit their jobs and start working for their wives, which is something that is really unheard of there. We also have a literacy program to teach the women and children basic math and reading skills. It's really cool to hear about stories from the women that a lot just wanted to learn how to write their name or how to count so they know they're not being ripped off at the market.

17:22 MH: And we've lifted over 3,000 women out of poverty so far. So the garden used to be a desert and now bringing back... Starting the tea garden has restored the land and brought back wildlife that had once gotten extinct. And it's cool that the garden is not sustainable but it's restorative and the thing about the packaging, it's biodegradable we don't use excess packaging 'cause we don't wanna... We want to create as little waste as possible. And that way it's really easy to be transparent, so especially for me as a digital marketer, a lot of times the companies with marketing they have to tiptoe around what they're promoting, but for us, since we're a B Corp, we really have looked at what we're doing and everything that we do, we're proud of. And so for me, it's really easy to share everything we do because everything is all up to B Corp standards. So that's really cool for me.

18:20 KW: And so Macey, you said that you've lifted 3,000 women out of poverty? Is that correct?

18:26 MH: Yes. In Bangladesh, yeah.

18:29 KW: Wow. That's amazing.

[overlapping conversation]

18:31 MH: Yeah. And it's really cool to see their stories too. We get pictures and videos back from them. It's really neat to see what it's meant for each woman, 'cause each one has their own story. And that's also how we measure impact, it started as a way to give women jobs and that's kind of what we feel we're about today. That's how we measure what we're doing is how many people we can help.

18:53 KW: And I did also want to point out... And this is true for everybody on the call today, but I'm gonna use Teatulia as an example. You're doing great things, you're clearly having an impact on the women in Bangladesh, lifting them out of poverty, helping them build a business and a life and literacy. But you're also a very highly regarded consumer brand. I saw, when I was doing my research, you're on the top list on brides.com for like the best tea and you're really respected for the product that you are creating and not just for the impact that you're having. And so it's very possible and attainable to be a for-profit business that's making money, that's doing good, and creating great product. And that must make your job a little bit easier, huh?

19:47 MH: Yeah, definitely. We have a really good product and that's what we're about, we're definitely a business trying to... Selling product but there's a mission behind it too. I think that's also where the quality comes from is that we're doing everything right for the land as well. It's all natural farming, we use no pesticides. A lot of the tea in the tea industry is sprayed with pesticides and tea is never washed before it goes in your cup, and so that's why having pesticide free is huge and a lot of people don't know that. So I think that's also why we have such good products because our practices are really friendly.

20:22 KW: Fantastic, thank you. So we touched on this a bit in the earlier conversation but looking at your external presence, we've read... I've read a lot about millennials, the millennial generation is much more invested in and interested in working for companies with strong social missions. When you look at customers and investors and the media that want to feel good about the companies that they're promoting or they're putting their money behind, that they're spending their money with. How have you seen... And we just talked a little about Teatulia, but Shamini I would like to hear how you've seen, maybe not your external B Corp status but your mission driven business to have a positive impact on your external presence.

21:15 SD: Sure. And thank you for showing that slide Kristy and Ellevate for shouting out Dhana. So those quotes are coming from the recently launched B Magazine that are out on stands in most grocery stores today. Dhana was highlighted and featured in their premiere issue together with our partner in Mandela in India. So today, we have over 200 women workers in India and Pondicherry and they are being impacted every day with a living wage and benefits such as retirement benefits and health benefits. What this has done is opened a whole conversation and dialogue with our customers as well as our end consumers. So our customers, our stores as well as our consumers, who are what we consider customers too. And the reason is because so much of the branding in the fashion world today is about the messaging and the after the sale, as I spoke about. But so little of them really know the number one fundamental question, which is, "Who made your clothes?" And so, most people don't have this perspective and that fashion and apparel industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after petroleum. And when they come to hear about this factoid, it's alarming.

22:58 SD: And so they and us, every one of us wants to be more conscious, wants to be more impactful. And so by being open and by being transparent, we truly have not only had a massive influx of people wanting to work for a company in the B Corps, including Dhana, but we have more and more demand from stores and boutique stores from all the way from babies to youth who understand the impact, that as long as we care for our young and we're giving them access to information, and the millennials love this because they truly believe that brands should be giving back, we can change the future. We have the ability as a community, as a population, as a species now to take it upon ourselves to use whatever we are making and producing to impact the world for the future generations to come. So the press definitely love brands in the B Corp community, we are one of them. And we're gonna see more and more of that happening. So I can but say enough about the B Corp status because it is really addressing both stakeholders and shareholders simultaneously. Good on people who take on this task and consider it a mandate and a mission.

24:41 KW: Thanks Shamini. And Melinda, you have a very interesting perspective here as well. Not just as a business leader and owner, but by nature of what your business does and Change Catalyst is empowering inclusive and sustainable innovation, so it's not just about creating your company that's having an impact, but helping to support other companies looking to have an impact as well. I'm sure you've a lot of insights on the power of this with regards to an external presence.

25:15 Melinda: Yeah, yeah. The one thing that I think hasn't been addressed yet and what is really powerful about the B Corp community is that it is a community and one of the things that we found surprisingly beneficial is the partnerships and collaborations that we've built both with B Lab itself and also with different B Corps in the community which is essentially... It rises all ships and there's a new magazine coming out that's really highlighting the different B Corps and the different amazing things that B Corps are doing in this space while really redefining business to be both profitable and sustainable. And just a little bit about our relationship with B Lab is one of the things that we found as we're working on diversity and inclusion, and we found that the assessment was maybe not as robust as we would want it be around diversity and inclusion and so we're actually working with B Lab to help develop a more robust assessment for that in the future which has been a great experience for us to really help a whole movement, to really define what diversity inclusion is.

26:45 Melinda: And we also did a workshop at the Bay area, B Corp Leadership Retreat and we'll be working with the B Lab community to make our events inclusive as well as particularly the annual retreat for all B Corps in the fall. It's also given us an ability to really give back to the community and help impact it and to move it forward too. Didn't totally answer your question, but I do think that the community aspect is really a big part of elevating all of us and really giving us opportunities to work with each other and to amplify what we're doing, like this call and this podcast is a perfect example.

27:41 KW: No, absolutely. And I agree with you Melinda, I just did a session at the New York City Leadership Development B Lab, Driving Change Through Leadership and how do we as business leaders not just use our voice and our influence to impact our own organization and our own supply chain and product and offering, but how do we use it to have a larger voice in the conversation. So Ellevate, for example, is we're really focused on closing the gender achievement gap business. We work with many partners to help have a collective power and collective voice, we poll our members every single week to find out what does a community feel on certain issues and we use that data to amplify their voice. I think that there's much that you can do as a leader of a company or as part of an organization that is very mission-driven and socially conscious, to drive change. And so on that note, Melinda, you have an upcoming event which is really convening the tech community. I know you've written extensively as well on topics around technology and diversity and change. What other ways that you're using your influence to have an impact and drive change?

29:10 Melinda: Yes. We do, both Wayne and I and my two co-founders, Laura, Wayne, and I do a lot of speaking and also we do a fair amount of travel. This year I've traveled to India to teach an entrepreneurship boot camp for 325 women, to really... Like I said earlier to really develop a more inclusive ecosystem around the world. So when we do things like that we also work with local investors, local banks with startup ETA developers, accelerators, incubators to help them really develop communities of startups that are inclusive. So going beyond your normal networks to really bring in people of different races, genders, ethnicities, sexual preferences, sexual identification, veterans, different age groups, people with disabilities, so we definitely go above and beyond in helping to make the US ecosystem more inclusive, and also internationally aware where areas are looking at the US tech companies and our particularly Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley as more developing ecosystems.

30:54 Melinda: And there's some good things about that template and there's some not so good things about that template so we can really affect change early when those communities are just forming. And so we do quite a bit of traveling to affect change there. And then with our conferences, we've really expanded this year, we have five different conferences at three different career fairs and two startup showcases to really bring communities across the US together to go deep into making change in their companies and in the tech ecosystem overall.

31:33 KW: When do you sleep?

31:35 Melinda: [chuckle] Well, that's a good question. Right now, not very much.

31:43 KW: That's clearly something... The passion that you're putting a lot of energy and sweat equity into, but it's having an impact and that's what we need. We want change to happen and we need individuals to use their voice to work with other organizations to have a collective voice to really drive that change. So thank you for what you're doing. It's...

32:10 Melinda: Yeah, well likewise.

32:10 KW: Fantastic.

32:12 Melinda: Yeah, likewise. It takes all of us and y'all are doing that as well. It's great being a part of it.

32:18 KW: Thanks. So Macey, from the marketing and media standpoint and thought leadership and having a voice, do you have any insights to share?

32:30 MH: Yeah, definitely. I feel like recruiting new people and having people become aware of us because of our B Corp status, for me I joined Teatulia because they were B Corp, that's what first drew me to them. I was working doing SEO at Harley and RV websites which you just... They weren't very transparent and I didn't feel a personal connection with them at all. And then seeing Teatulia with a B Corp standing, I knew what I was getting, without knowing anything about the company, I knew where their values stood too and same with new customers. One of our big focus right now is college and universities and more kids have been noticing the B Corp logo going to events, and our food service sales manager, he's noticed a lot of college students walking by our booth and saying, "Oh, hey! You guys are a B Corp." And knowing what that means, you get such a short time to tell your story, but me as being a digital marketer, it's really hard to grab the attention of people in such a short amount of time. So having the B Corp logo, especially when more and more people are understanding what that means, it's able to show people what we're about in a really quick and easy way.

33:37 MH: Also about the leadership part that you brought, I think we got a little off topic Kristy. Speaking for Linda, but leading by example is also really big. A lot of tea companies haven't gone organic or haven't really made the change toward going more sustainable. So I think leading by example is really the way we're driving change. Hope that answered your question.

34:01 KW: And I'd have to add... No, it does. Thank you and I do have to add that I think there's so many ways in which we can, we as business leaders, business owners, employees, can have an impact and drive change. And sometimes it's not this huge life changing, policy changing. It can be little things that you do in your own community that have that ripple effect. So, as an example, I was at the Best For New York Awards, B Corp does a "Best For" awards each year and one of the companies that won an award was a electrical company. Electricians, small company based in The Bronx and they pay all the workers a living wage, they provide healthcare and benefits and paid leave for all the workers. They've created policies that are not often implemented in companies similar to theirs and so just by leading from example in that way, they're creating change. There were solar energy companies there that are really focused on bringing environmentally conscious alternatives and solutions to consumers.

35:24 KW: And so there's many ways I think while it doesn't always have to be on the grand scale, it can be within your local community, within your state, within specific special interest groups, where we each have our voice and we have an opportunity to leverage that voice. So I just to wanted to talk about that a little bit 'cause I don't want it to ever seem like it's overwhelming and daunting. It's not. There's so much each of us can do. And Shamini, you I know, are doing a lot and part of what I actually wanted to ask you about Shamini is your movie. I've heard such wonderful things about your movie and that's certainly driving impact.

36:09 SD: Thanks, Kristy. The movie you're talking about is The True Cost movie, which debuted in 2015, last year and it's now all over the world. I'm an associate producer for that and Andrew Morgan is the actual director. It's a response to the Rana Plaza incident. And that's the way that I've helped raise the awareness of what's been going on in the fashion apparel world. I've been through at least 50 screenings now, from Singapore to Bangalore to here in the Bay area, and we hopefully will be using this movie to impact change in our young. I can't but tell you and share with this community how amazing our young and our youth are in response to a movie like this. And the three most important questions they ask is, "How did we get into this mess? Who's responsible? And what can we do immediately?" And there you have it, the essence of our youth and asking very imperative questions. And so as I go around speaking and engaging these minds of the youth, we have amazing solutions and ability to impact change, which is very much in line with being a thought leader. And so The True Cost movie we are hoping to screen, of course, here in the Ellevate network, and I welcome anyone and every one of you to watch it today. It's available on Netflix and all the major channels in all the major languages.

38:05 SD: But the other thing I wanted to say, Kristy, you brought up the whole entire best in the world. There is a September 8th Best for the World awards happening, in September the 8th in Berkeley. So the company's being honored, I will be speaking with other B Corp leaders and there'll be a mentorship event and then an awards ceremony, but also a lot of interesting engagements. The other way that we talk, in Dhana, in terms of the impact, is I sit on the board for the Ethical Fashion Forum, which is based in London, and my source is the for-profit side launching. And this is a forum that shares content as well as information and best practices of companies looking and now sourcing and making change across the globe for the better of people and planet. And so many and many of these companies are geared towards B Corp status and they're already doing good in the world, so there's a lot of drive and momentum in this. And so I cannot but advocate for more people, more women, getting involved.

39:32 SD: And finally, I am a Climate Ride ambassador, which is the only charity event that gives back to people and planet, and one of the 190 beneficiary organizations that we raise money for is the B Corp community. And I've been doing that for the past few years and I've ridden down the California coast three times and, trust me, there's a lot to be said about the B Corp community and it's impact when we start talking about how we can simply ride a bicycle and make change happen by rising to the occasion and talking about the issues. So besides going into schools and high schools here in the US and abroad and just talking to them, Dhana has also launched a campaign called The Wearing the Wool Campaign and giving our youth and women just simple five ways to make immediate impact when it comes to your fashion in your closet. And so there's a lot to be done in the fashion and apparel world and I so thank everyone on this call who are making a difference in their own very small way.

41:00 KW: Thank you, Shamini. So I wanted to... We're at 15 minutes left. I do want to open it up for questions, but one final thought, which is about the network. And Melinda mentioned this earlier, I just wanted to mention this as well. So we've definitely gained a huge network from becoming a B Corp obviously, we value networks. We really understand the impact of having a community to lean on and learn from, be it advice for starting a business, investors in your business, growing your business, getting a job, finding a mentor. There's so many aspects to that. Shamini has been a member of Ellevate since before I've been here, she's one of our biggest supporters and I thank you for that Shamini. And it certainly was a big driver for us becoming a B Corp. And Macey and Melinda, we've met just through the network we've joined through the B Corp community. It's not just a personal journey, it's also a collective journey and it's a great network that's wonderful to leverage for your business, for your growth, for your experiences. But I wanted to open it up for questions, be cognizant of time, Joanna's gonna run the Q&A, but thank you so much to Shamini, to Macy, to Melinda for all that you've offered today. Anything else quickly from either of you that you felt we didn't cover that you wanted to address?

42:40 SD: First of all, I wanted to give Kristy a huge shout-out to becoming and powering through to becoming the champion for B Corp here in Ellevate, but also to say that annually, we meet once a year, it's called the B Corp Retreat and this year it's gonna be held in Philadelphia. And so I look forward to meeting more B Corps and getting this discussion in terms of how we can be a force for change, especially amongst us women when we're there. I believe it's in October in Philadelphia this year.

43:25 Melinda: Wonderful, thanks Shamini. This is Melinda and I would just add that we've talked about all the benefits of being a B Corp, and there are many, many benefits that we haven't talked about. So having said that, it's not easy and there are definitely things that make it tough along the way. The B Corp assessment is not easy and it takes time, but the benefits to us and I think to a lot of companies far outweigh the difficulties in being a B Corp, because it's the way we all need to be doing business in order to have the world that we wanna have in the future. This is really about redefining the way we do business and holding ourselves accountable to doing business better. And it's so important and I'm really proud to be a part of the community and I'm really excited that Ellevate is a new member.

44:33 KW: Thank you, thanks Melinda. We're excited to be a member too, we love it. Yeah, I agree with all of that. So Joanna, I know I'm seeing questions coming in. As a reminder to anyone on the call, if you have a question you can use the chat function to submit it to us and we will get to it. So Joanna, did you want to start with some of that?

45:00 Joanna: Yes, absolutely thank you so much Kristy and thank you to our speakers for an awesome jam session so far. I'm excited to get these questions started. The first one reads, "For those graduates looking to obtain a role at a B Corp after graduation, what skill sets are you looking for in candidates or what type of role do you recruit for?"

45:24 SD: Hi, I'm Shamini, I'll jump in. We have anywhere from graduates doing interns and apprenticeships jobs all the way to starting to look at entry level jobs. But I think for us, the most important thing when you start at Dhana is to really understand where your passion is and why you believe that you can impact the people and planet and what your contribution you'd like to see, if not in the next year but three years down the road. It's tough to know what you wanna do in 20 years time, but we really hone down on the mindset of the candidate as well as the dedication and commitment to the actual cause, let alone of course, the skill set. That's the most important, imperative part is demonstrating that and how you've done that through your lifetime.

46:41 KW: I'd also say, this is Kristy, you check out the B Corp website. They have a listing of all the companies, a directory there. I know, I believe that they work with an organization... Let's see, I was just trying to look up that name right now, that offers a job board for jobs from B Corps as well, so there's definitely some resources out there. But it's always great if you just learn about the company. I'd say look for an organization that's aligned with your values and your interests and that really comes through in the interview, just having that natural curiosity and passion.

47:27 MH: I agree with that. This is Macey, that B Corp job board has been a big help to us. I think also having a combination of loving what the company does, having it align with your values, but also the technical skills. At Teatulia we are a business so having those technical skills along with you care about the company is big.

47:52 Joanna: Awesome, thank you so much ladies. I have a question here that's for Macey. It says, "The impact you've had for women in Bangladesh is absolutely incredible. Does Teatulia have plans for expanding these strategies in other poverty-ridden areas?"

48:08 MH: Good question. So right now, we're based in Bangladesh, so we are expanding doing different programs with the women in Bangladesh. For your question, I'm not sure exactly about expanding. That would be a Linda question. Right now, we're just focused in Bangladesh and how we can help those women. It is one of the poorest countries, so right now our focus is Bangladesh. That's a good question though.

48:37 Joanna: Great, thanks. And this one, I have a question for Melinda. Are you seeing B Corps helping you create an impact on the number of women in leadership positions at companies?

48:54 Melinda: I'm sorry. Say the question again, I missed that.

48:58 Joanna: Sure. Are you seeing B Corps helping you create an impact on the number of women in leadership positions at companies?

49:10 Melinda: I think we're still pretty early as a B Corp community in terms of working together on really affecting change at that level of really working together on empowering women leaders. However, there are definitely some great B Corps that are working on that individually. Change takes time and most companies start from within and that is, if every company started from within, then we would change the world. So we did do a workshop with B Corps during our Bay area leadership retreat to help B Corps really understand what that takes to create changes in their businesses. But no, right now, we're not doing a lot of work to get B Corps to really elevate women's leadership. That's a good question and something that we should do in the future.

50:25 Joanna: Great, thank you so much. And just a quick reminder if you have any last minute quick questions feel free to send that in as we wrap up today, but thank you so much for all of that awesome information to our speakers, and Kristy of course, for being an awesome moderator. And thank you everyone for listening in today. We would still love to hear from you, so if you still have questions for our speakers, please feel free to reach out to info@ellevatenetwork.com, or through our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. And don't forget to sign up for our next jam session in the series, our third and last one on July 12th, where we'll speak to companies dedicated to using their businesses to make the world a better place for women, including health care innovation, investing in female entrepreneurs, and advancement in career and education. This jam session has been recorded, as usual, and will be available on our website tomorrow. Kristy, any parting words?

51:19 KW: No, just thanks to all of you for joining us today and definitely reach out if you have any questions or wanna talk about B Corps further or Ellevate, Dhana, or Change Catalyst, and Teatulia. We're all happy to answer your questions and connect.

51:38 Joanna: Thank you so much. Thank you everybody. Have an awesome day.

51:42 Melinda: Thank you.

51:42 SD: Thank you.

51:44 Melinda: Thanks for having us, bye.

51:46 KW: Bye.


Get Introduced to the Women You Should Know

We help our members connect with specific attendees who share their industry and life experiences.

Kristy Wallace
Kristy Wallace

New York, NY

CEO at Ellevate Network

Join Ellevate to Meet Kristy
Maricella Herrera Avila

VP Operations & Strategy at Ellevate Network

Join Ellevate to Meet Maricella


Be the first to share your thoughts about this event.