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Using Business to Solve Social Problems for Women

Online • July 12, 2016

Join us as we speak to companies dedicated to using their businesses to solve issues that hold women back in the workforce, such as the gender pay and achievement gaps.

Summary

00:00 Speaker 1: Hello everybody, thank you so much for joining us here today. We promise it will be a informative and inspiring session, but we look to you to contribute to that. So if you have questions, insights, please feel free to submit them using the chat function 'cause we really want this to be a collaborative discussion. I wanted to quickly start off with what is a B Corp? You may be asking yourself that question. Easy way to think about it, 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.

00:47 S1: Collectively there's over 1,700 B Corporations in 50 countries that are leading a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good. Ellevate recently became a B Corp. As many of you know, Ellevate's business is, we are committed to closing the gender achievement gap in business by providing women a community to lean on and learn from. Given that focus on the mission and on having a positive impact to move the lens of our business, we really thought that B Corp is a great fit for us. It's a community of like-minded organizations. There's tons of tools and resources that we're leveraging to move our business forward, and to continue having an even greater impact. Today, I'm also joined with Meghan Dear, the CEO and founder of Localize, and Sascha Mayer the founder of Mamava. I wanted to take a moment quickly and ask Meghan to introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about your business, and then after that Sascha we'd love to hear from you as well.

01:51 Speaker 2: Great. So, it's so nice to be here today. Thanks for inviting me. So, my name's Meghan. I started my company, Localize, five years ago. And I started it 'cause I was really annoyed that when I walked into a grocery store, I couldn't figure out where food was coming from. And I had a pretty straightforward solution in mind that was driven by my own background in agriculture. I knew that the information was out there, I just couldn't see it 'cause I was a shopper. And so, Localize is now not just a labeling company that identifies where food has come from but it's also a data company, which collects information about where food has come from, as well as other attributes that are behind the label. Those things that you don't necessarily get to see that give you a lot of context. One of those attributes can be who the owners are, what their gender is, what their background is, what their story is, and we think at Localize that those are informative and that they're important for shoppers to know about.

03:00 S1: Great, thank you. And Sascha, I am excited to hear about you, I'll tell you, as a mom of three, who nursed in many interesting places. What you're doing is just so needed and so fantastic. So, why don't you share with us a little bit more about yourself and your business.

03:20 Speaker 3: Thank you, yeah, I'd love to. So, I'm the co-founder of Mamava, and what we make is a free-standing lactation suite. So moms, particularly moms who need to be away from their baby and have to use a breast pump can do so in cleanliness, dignity, and privacy. And once again, it came from my personal experience, and that of my colleagues, and friends where we had nice support at our jobs, the private office, or a lactation room, but when we went to visit our clients or go to conventions we were often finding ourselves in restrooms primarily. A couple of times the backseats of cars, or once with a client driving in the backseat of the car, and obviously preparing food for your baby is not a place you wanna do that in a restroom. And we came from a design studio where we incubated it and really wanted to solve real world problems. And we thought, "It's not that hard. It's just a self-contained room designed more for let down in this function around breastfeeding and pumping than anything else." So, that's where Mamava came from.

04:41 S3: The name Mamava meaning, momma and go. And now, we actually have units across the country, in about 22 states, 15 airports, about 110 units placed thus far. We basically hired our first employee and spun off in the design studio not until September of last year. So, we're really fast growing, and being really, really well received across a lot of different channels. We conceived of it, once again, in sort of airports, and convention centers, and private businesses, but it's really anywhere moms need to go. We are in zoos. We're in stadiums, hospitals, and we are really excited. One of the first things we did before we even had an office, or actually any full-time employees was become B certified 'cause it was so important to us to run the company with that value set.

05:45 S1: And that's a great entry point into my first question. So becoming a B Corp, we all completed the assessment, and the assessment really focuses on many pillars of your business: Your impact on your workers, your environment, your community, your customers. It's pretty in-depth but for anyone listening today, I would not take that as a deterrent, I would take it as a fantastic challenge, set up for you to go in, answer some questions, save it, go back at another time, and that's how I approached it. But it really caused me, as a business leader, to think through some aspects of the business that weren't top of mind. We're really focused on having a great place for our workers. We're really focused on how we engage with our community and our customers. But the environmental impact, for example, was not top of mind as an online offering. And this changed that. It really helped us to focus on that because it is very important.

06:49 S1: And so I wanted to use that as a lead in for you, Meghan and Sascha, around your corporate mission and values. How are you positively impacting women and how have you incorporated the values of B Corporations into your business? Sascha, if you wanted to start with that.

07:08 S3: Sure, it's a big question. I think it's at the very center of what we do. So when we were answering some of the questions to set ourselves up as a B Corp, it was sort of... At the very center of what we do are the implications for health and well-being and support of moms, families, and culture. So I think that's key, and that's what drives us so the values all ladder up to that. One of the things that what we found also as a small business is, we had to start out as we would go. So even though we maybe wouldn't have the resources to do full family leave policies, especially compared to some major businesses, we put those, really great ones, into our benefits package. All of those things that maybe a five-person company wouldn't initially start out doing, we started doing from the very beginning.

08:27 S1: I was just gonna say quickly, that's important and I would use that as a recommendation for any small business or a business of any kind. There's an opportunity, as you're setting up your mission, or your values and your company structure to engage with your employees, ask them what's important to them in terms of benefits, maternity leave, work/life balance, flex time, whatever those topics are. Work with your employees to create a plan. And maybe it can be hard for small businesses to take on losing income or the various financial and logistical aspects of creating this plan, but if you have a roadmap in place, you start day one and you keep building on that, then you're moving towards something. So it's great that you did that and it's certainly something that we've thought a lot about, as well. But Meghan, yes. Sorry for cutting you off.

09:31 S2: Oh, no problem. This is such a huge topic. We've got our company values for Localize up on the screen here and when I look at that, I sense almost the struggle that we had to articulate those values, to bring words to them. And so I know that when we started the company, we didn't start it so that we could become a B Corp. We became a B Corp because that was a genuine reflection of our internal values as well as the problems that we were solving in the world. And going through the process of a B Corp certification is fantastic because it makes you dig deeper and to start being more granular, to be analytical about how you wanna change the world and how you're gonna measure things, both internally and externally. And I think that's the same, even in looking at our company values, of what do we care about? So when you say that you're gonna go out and articulate those values, you really have to dig deep. You have to analyze it. You have to think about what are the words that reflect genuinely what our team feels? How do we interact with the world? How do we interact with ourselves?

10:45 S2: And so that question of how we're positively impacting women, there's so many layers to it. Certainly, there's this very data-driven approach that we have of just collecting better information about who are the businesses that have women ownership? B Corp's approach's actually measure women involvements at the executive level within companies. For us as well, I think we are a women-owned company, and just the presence of women-owned companies that are succeeding at all scales is in itself an impactful thing, and we often don't tell those stories. Women-owned companies are often smaller scale, and we definitely notice that Localize, because we deal predominantly with smaller scale food companies, and those are the kinds of companies that don't get a really strong voice to what that kind of ownership means, to how that translates into a really busy environment like a grocery store. And so there's so many layers to how women are impacted both by our business, but also just how we think about them in our business ecosystem.

12:07 S1: Sure, and we definitely see that as well in the Ellevate community, it's quite diverse from small solo entrepreneurs to women who are starting businesses to women in corporate America and it's about really, I think, connecting with your constituents, your stakeholders and how can you best serve them and really understanding where the areas of opportunity are. I was part of a meeting recently and this resonated with me. Someone had said, "A company's vision is the future you seek." So as a company, what is this future that you're seeking? And your mission is how you're going to deliver that and how you, as a company, will contribute to that. And that resonated to me because I think we can all see this world where you know where your food comes from, you know how it's sourced, you're empowering local businesses, you're able to lactate in a safe, clean, accessible environment. I mean, I feel like these are all rights that we should have and it's admirable that both of you are leading the charge on how to make that future a reality. So I applaud you for that. Thank you.

13:24 S2: Thanks for that.

13:24 S3: In terms of our values too, we also consider not just the mothers, but we have an interesting challenge of moms or our users that are people who're actually purchasing and placing these are often a very different demographic, facilities people, people who are often more men and older and maybe haven't had the experience. But one of our company values is to empathize, to innovate. So we do put ourselves in the position of what it's like to be that facilities guy who probably also has a wife or a daughter or friends who have gone through this and wants to have a solution. We don't think that it's only a women's issue. It has to be everybody's issue to solve the problem and to support breastfeeding in our culture.

14:16 S3: Another company value we have is 'keep it simple sister', which is like 'let's not make it hard for them to do the right thing'. The company value that we use the most is very internal facing for us. It's 'yes and... ' it sort of comes from that improvisation in theater idea, but we say, "yes" and then we augment it to make it even better, or to go another mile, or to question something. "Yes we could do it that way and we could also think about what the implications are." So we have them. You'll probably find there are certain company values that are very sticky and even sometimes our customers play back to us. So I just wanted to point out that it is about not just moms, but supporting culture as a whole and understanding your audiences also want to help and be involved.

15:17 S2: Yeah, I just wanna pop in on that too. One of our values that we had in earlier iterations at Localize was the word innovation. And you won't actually see that word on our values description now, but the reason is that we really dug into what that meant for us and in so many ways it wasn't tangible enough, it wasn't obvious enough exactly how we created an innovative environment, how we delivered an innovative product, how we performed innovation as an act. And what replaced it actually was problem solving, which is a bit of a funny value to have, but it was something that was just so much more tangible to us. So we're often dealing in incredibly complex systems. We have to break down big problems into small problems that are just one thing at a time, things that we can actually solve, instead of the big stuff all at once. And we recognize that that's actually how Localize has succeeded is that we took big things and we kept breaking them down, breaking them down and we pursued them. And so one of the things that I look for when I'm bringing on new people to my company is actually that relentlessness, that same approach that I had of being just annoyed and frustrated that I couldn't find out where my food was coming from. That's a burning thing that can really propel a company forward in that desire to solve problems.

16:55 S1: Thank you, yeah. It's funny 'cause we talk a lot about innovation here as well and part of it is addressing what's the current situation, what are the current opportunities that we can make better and then how do you push it forward. But I love the way that you talked about that. I'm gonna take a quick moment and say apologize for any loud noises in the background. We are getting a security system today. It was supposed to be completed by noon. Obviously that did not happen. So I'll keep muting when I can, but just as a heads up to that. So the next thing, we've talked a little bit about our values and how we really created those values and the mission of the organization and then it gets into impact. Right? So you're setting up the framework. How do you measure the impact? What are the key things that you look at to know that you're being successful in your mission? And I don't think that that's clearly... It's not always just tied to revenue numbers. It's not so black and white.

18:00 S1: Sascha, we have Mamava up here today, I know you opened up with your description that you are in 22 states and you've really made a lot of headway in the past less than a year. Could you talk a little bit about how you measured the impact of your business?

18:16 S3: That's a good question. Data, drive, business, and it's like a holy grail. So, if you really wanna talk about data, that is hard. I think just the sheer awareness raising that we do because our unit is unique and it kinda stands out, is driving impact even in the few years where this was a bit of a twinkle in our eye or since the last time I had to breastfeed, rates of breastfeeding have increased. I like to think that we're part of that movement, that women are leaning in on this issue as they are on many other issues and asserting their rights. When we first started thinking about this, I think breastfeeding rates were at 77% initiation, now they're at 79%, and we really feel that our solution is like a billboard in support of breastfeeding, sort of elevating the conversation. And the Mamava manifesto speaks to that in terms of quantifying it. One of the things that we are doing is releasing in January a smart lock in association with our mobile app, which already exists, where moms who use the unit and the app can will actually, regardless... When a unit is used, there's a mechanism that will count usage, and if they use the app as well, we can deliver content, pictures of the mom's baby, specific content from Mamava or partners to that user.

19:58 S3: But at the very least, we can anonymously measure usage and be able to go back and say, "Wow, you put this unit in at this airport or at this business and it's being used 10 times a day. You need another one because obviously there's probably a line." So that's the impact on a business level though we can measure, but in terms of a cultural level, just being out there and being part of the conversation, and the very deliberate overt nature of our brand. When we were talking about this idea, we didn't wanna demure behind the mother and child type of ideas, the happy breast logo is very intentional and we feel like pushing some buttons, we are moving the dial. We also have this wonderful universe of social media where we can be hearing from our user mamas who tweet at us, who post stuff on Pinterest, who obviously use Facebook and that is the most humongous sales tools. Britney's job is to be in dialogue with them and also as a start-up, keeps us going. And when we're burning the midnight oil and we hear from some moms who said this is her first business ship away from baby and we've made her day, that is what it all comes down to and keeps us going.

21:25 S1: Thanks Sascha, and I also know you're very involved in some hot topics too. I believe I saw with the NFL, you were working to get Mamava stations into stadiums. Is that correct?

21:41 S3: Yep, we have them already in two NFL stadiums and three major league baseball stadiums.

21:50 S1: As a Yankee fan, I appreciate that. [chuckle]

21:53 S3: So, I think the key there is how many women are working at those places? I happen to know. A thousand women are working at any given NFL game, probably more. And obviously some of those women either are breastfeeding or have the desire to. So, it's not just about the people who can afford that ticket to the professional sport, it's about all the women who are selling the tickets, selling the hot dogs and being able to support them. And so, we try to close in on this class system we have around breastfeeding whether you have autonomy in your job or you can stay at home where your baby can breastfeed, but good luck if you are working an hourly wage.

22:34 S1: Yeah, that's fantastic. And Andrea, who is one of our participants said you should come to the Cowboy Stadium 'cause they'd love to have you in Arlington. There you go. [chuckle] Some great ideas, thank you Andrea.

22:51 S3: Cowboys, tweet to the Cowboys or post on Facebook, it helps so much. So, moms are the ones who aren't purchasing them but they're driving the demand and helping us build our case with those facility guys and at the NFL stadiums and most stadiums, it's like 99% men we have to have this conversation with and some are easier conversations than others.

23:16 S1: Sure, sure, I understand that. And so Meghan, tell us, Localize how do you measure your impact? I'm sure you also have just so many fantastic stories you're hearing from your local farmers and community but would love to just hear more about that.

23:35 S2: Yeah, well, I think that Localize is a step or two removed from being explicitly about creating impact on women, but we collect information and stories. And I think that what's interesting is that I have a team of mostly really nerdy people, we're really interested in the data, we're really interested in growing our database. This is discussed as we sit around the board room and talk about on a consistent basis. There's something really dry about that. And what's fascinating about us is that for every datum that we've collected, we also embed story around it. So we really care about context, so the context of where our food is coming from, the context of its story, we've tried to find ways to normalize stories so that they're not just pitches rather, they're narratives that are telling a certain truth about a product without taking away from it's marketability.

24:38 S2: And so, that's kind of a big challenge to scale and yet probably the story is the most important thing that we do because it actually makes sense out of our world. So I think that one of the most compelling things that we do is share those stories about ownership whether it's a woman owned company or it's another independently owned company who's operating just down the street from us, it's that story that helps us figure out what we care about and how we can connect our values with maybe the information that we're seeing in front of us.

25:20 S2: And I had sort of a thought here too as Sascha was talking about selling this to men, I think that's an interesting thing for us as well. So typically when we're working with a large grocery retailer, we're dealing with a room full of men who are at the senior leadership level who are making the decisions about the types of information programs, the signage, the marketing that goes into their grocery stores. It's often interesting that they have to look at what we do through the lens of what they think their wives would like. And that's a phrase that I often hear is that, "My wife or my daughter, they won't stop talking about foods. About where it's coming from, about their local producers." No matter what the gender that we're discussing or the issue that we're discussing, it's actually that personal piece, that personal story, the narrative that helps people connect to what they're going to care about.

26:33 S2: So this is an issue that's a couple steps removed from the real grocery industry which is very traditional. But decisions can be made at that level by thinking about the stories of the people around them and that's really where, I think, that we've had our most success is driving story whether it's selling our product or it's doing it right at the shelf edge to share those stories about other people's products.

27:04 S1: So there's so many interesting things that I just wanted to make mention of that each of you shared. And we have heard when it comes to investing in women owned businesses, when it comes to services directed towards women, oftentimes there is that disconnect between the end buyer or investor is a man and how do you create that connection and help to change a mindset. So it's interesting to hear your story there, but I wanna take this opportunity to talk to everybody on the call today around impact, developing that leadership, raising awareness and I know Sascha said this around Mamava. If you want a stadium, if you want them in the Cowboys' stadium, use your voice. Tweet, social media, write an article. For any issues that are important to you, the ones we're talking about today or any that that you care about, this is a call to action to use your voice.

28:12 S1: I know through the Ellevate network, we have the opportunity for our members to submit content. We partner with Huffington Post, we partner with Forbes. We really look to elevate your voice and help to connect that to interested parties. And so it's hard to do and I think sometimes it seems a little bit daunting, but when you're passionate about a topic, we are in a day and age where through social media, through writing, blogging medium, other platforms, we're able to really have that voice and that's a big part of this 'Be the Change' B Corp movement as well. It's around really stepping up and using your voice to drive social change and social good. So that's my little call to action to everyone. Today we're seeing both Meghan and Sascha, through their work, really have an impact and go after the issues that they care about and we all have that opportunity.

29:14 S3: Yeah, to follow up on that, can I just be really specific on that one? It's one of the things that I started out with my team really early. It was like, "I wanna do the Toms model of our lactation suites." Give them away but that's a little hard when it's not a pair of shoes but like a $12,000 to $15,000 piece of equipment that needs to be placed and so on. But finally for the first time... I mean, it's been a year but we finally are doing a giveaway and if anybody knows of a worthy, deserving location where one of these would land, not a place like a mall where it could build them, but a WIC office, we are taking nominations. You can do it off our Facebook page or off our website because it's National Breastfeeding Awareness month in August and finally this is a little dream we're realizing for the first time on our own. We're gonna give a unit away from Mamava to a deserving location, and it does help us also just really to be more specific. Facebook likes help us when we go to the Cowboy stadium and we say, "10,000 moms are wanting and talking about this." That is a huge data point for us to share and prove the concept, and that is a worthwhile investment. It's hard for the hard sale, but just still passionate about it.

30:39 S1: Absolutely. No, it's an important conversation to have and the power of the collective voice. And I think we're always top of mind or aware of, but we as a community can really help drive change.

30:54 S3: Yeah.

30:56 S1: And on that note, community, so Ellevate, we're a global professional network, and we really believe in, and this is not a marketing pitch. We do strongly believe that having a community to lean on and learn from, that's the contact that will get you on a corporate board. That's the contact that will talk you through negotiating your raise. That's the person that's gonna invest in your company. That's just... The world we live in, it's about who you know and how you leverage those connections and the education around that. And we've seen that in large part or and we've seen that again through the B Corp community. I would not have known Sascha or Meghan outside of us becoming a B Corp. We've gone to multiple events. We've met so many other companies that are like minded that have just great ideas and great passion that we can partner with. And I believe strongly as well that a big part of change is not going at it alone, it's partnering with other organizations, it's really opening your mind to other areas of opportunity to see how you can collectively have that power to tackle certain issues and problems and opportunities. But I would love, Meghan, what has been your experience with the B Corp community and then just on a larger level, just networking in general, how has that helped grow your business?

32:19 S2: Yeah. I think it's probably the most important thing that we can do, especially as a start-up that continues to scale and grow. Building our networks, building our connections, those are so important. But it also sounds really dry to just be pursuing networks for the sake of it. And you go and you meet other people with common values and you care about the same things in the world, that's a common connection that you can really build on. So, that's taking it past just networking into actually building communities of caring and communities that practice around our B Corp values, our internal values, all of those things that we have some common language around. So finding those communities that you're networking within, where you're already starting off in a place of your values, of what you care about, that is absolutely by far the best place to start. It means that you're gonna have better longevity in your relationship if you're doing business together, then you could talk genuinely about what are your common business goals as well as your other goals for impact, for example.

33:28 S2: I know for us, we've also raised money for Localize and getting that B Corp certification in before we did the raise so that it was really built into our DNA and it was something that we were talking about as a fact, as an existing aspect of our business, that really lended a lot towards bringing in the right investors, talking about the right things, being able to talk more than just about our balance sheet, but also talking about what the company was doing, how we operate, how we exist in the world. And it's hard to get license to talk about those things, but being a B Corp really does give you license to have those conversations.

34:17 S1: Thanks. And so, Sascha, what's your experience?

34:24 S3: I might have lost the thread in terms of the direct question on that one, but in terms of being B certified, it gives us a, for instance our Seventh Generation partner, it gives us the credibility to collaborate with them to find a way to spread our mission, and that's huge. It's interesting because in our case, a lot of the B certified community probably already has lactation accommodations, so they don't maybe represent a customer base in the same way that other communities might. But positively, our partnership with Seventh Generation would be one place to do that.

35:14 S1: Sure. Definitely. I think a network can be so many different things, and certainly it's business opportunities, it's revenue, it's customers. But it's great to hear that, that for you, it really is helping in terms of those partnerships that can be really hard to come by sometimes, particularly as a smaller company that's growing and gaining a foothold. So, congrats on that. That's great. Great partnership. So, the last question is kind of a big question. It's more reflective, certainly. But where are we heading? How do you see the B Corp or the Social Impact Movement evolving? And where would you like to see your own company in five years? Sascha, do you have a plan in place for that or some ideas?

36:11 S3: Sorry, Britney. I were consulting on something, another question. So in terms of where we're headed, can you repeat the question? I'm really sorry. [chuckle] Well, how do you see B Corp and Social Impact Movement evolving?

36:30 S1: Yeah, I know it's a broad question, but do you have any predictions for where it's evolving and where you'd like to see your own company in five years?

36:39 S3: Yeah, so I hope that the little companies in a way almost shame the big companies or non-B Corps into acting in the right way. One of the things that, as I think I mentioned earlier that, it can be frustrating is, we start for instance with parental lead from day one and sometimes that means paying out of pocket even with our policy just because of the stipulation set forth by insurers. And we feel like if we continue to do that in this movement of others like us, even though we're small businesses, eventually we'll be recruiting more of the people that we want away from other corporations. And representing something where broader culture and bigger companies need to go in that direction as well.

37:31 S3: One of the things that I keep on going back to Britney, who manages our relationship with B Corp is like, "I wanna get re-certified, I wanna get re-certified." Because when we originally filled out our certification, we didn't even have any full-time employees including myself so I know we are gonna look so good and we're gonna have so many more points. So the next five years I hope that we are at the tippy top in terms of the points we earn as a certified B Corp and can really be an example to that community of like, "If you begin doing it the right way, look at how that certification plays into your narrative, plays into your attracting of great employees, plays into your awareness and engagement with customers."

38:20 S1: Great, that's inspiring, that's exciting. Meghan, how about you? Where do you see your company going and larger B Corp or Social Impact Movement evolving?

38:32 S2: Well, I think that this is... I'm so optimistic about where this movement is going and it's not just the B Corp movement, it's a ground swell of shifting societal values and interest in making sure that we've got a future. I've got a conference a few weeks ago and one of the questions that kept getting embedded in all the panel discussions was, what about this millennial issue? And I thought it was the weirdest and funniest way to frame the question, but in so many ways we're being defined by the upcoming generation. And this generation in particular they're actually, they're growing up. They're now in the 25 to 35 age range. They're becoming entrepreneurs, they're owning businesses, they're scaling their leaders and organizations. They're no longer just that slightly annoying intern in the office, they're actually our leaders. And they're having enormous influence on the future, as they should. And so, what we're seeing is numbers that are shifting. So B Corps, the number of B Corps in the world keeps going up and I genuinely hope that those numbers really start to skyrocket in the coming years.

39:58 S2: I don't think there's enough B Corps right now. I don't think there's enough companies that are meeting or that are saying that they will be transparent about how they impact the world. What I do think is that there's an enormous number of companies who are already doing it who aren't seeking the certification, who aren't seeking the transparency. And so getting that conversion of high potential existing companies to go and make the declaration, to go and become the certification is really important.

40:33 S2: And then I just wanna say that for the future of Localize, we've gone in the last five years very quickly from curating information about where food comes from at the shelf edge to curating anything. So we're working with other certifiers who have an important narrative about products. And so that includes working with Fair Trade, with Sustainable Seafoods like Ocean Wise, USDA Organics, Rainforest Alliance. We are partnering with these very fragmented data organizations as we look at them because they've got information about the context, about the transparency of products and we want to curate that, we wanna give shoppers more information about that. So in the next five years I wanna see some representation of our company in every retail environment across North America. And that won't just be about local, that will be about curating the other important impactful pieces of information that we think shoppers should know about.

41:43 S1: So I have to tell you, applaud you, that was... You've clearly put a lot of thought into this and that was very, very well stated so thank you for that. So we're gonna get into questions, Q&A, right now. Questions. If you have any questions, you can utilize the chat function. Anyone on the call to send us some questions and we have some that are coming in. But I did also wanna echo some things that Meghan said as well, where I recently attended the Best For New York Awards run through B Corp looking at companies that are doing great things for New York. And I'll tell you, it was amazing just in my little neighborhood in Brooklyn, we had restaurants and suppliers that were honored for what they are doing for their workers, the policies they're putting in place, the paid leave, paying their employees a livable wage, the benefits, the environmental impact.

42:45 S1: So it can be very, very small businesses up to... We know that Tom's, and Ben & Jerry's, and Warby Parker, and Etsy, and Cabot are all B Corps as well. And I think the beauty of this is it's around embracing a lot of these values within your organization of any size and interpreting it in a way that makes most sense for your business. So yeah, I mean I agree. I think there's many businesses that could be B Corps, but they haven't thought about it or don't realize it, and I hope to see many more to come. So thanks for that.

43:22 S1: So we have a few questions that are coming in. The first one: Are there other women's issues you think would benefit from being supported by B Corp company that you're not seeing yet? As I know one of our listeners asked about supporting, I think, parents through the difficult years of being teenagers. And I know Mamava, you're focused on kinda one part of the life cycle being a parent, a very important part. But Meghan or Sascha, are there any other companies focused on issues impacting women that you think... Any other women's issues that you think would benefit from being supported by a B Corp? IT's a little bit loaded, but...

44:17 S3: Everyone benefits from being part of a B Corp. I'm really interested in the sandwich generation of now we're gonna have the huge influx of baby boomers that are going into their senior years and need a different level of care, and our culture needs a different way of thinking about managing that care. A lot of it falls on women. So I don't think it should. I think just like breastfeeding is a family and bigger issue, it's an everyone issue. I think that we need to be thinking about end of life care, as well and understanding that predominantly the management of that care falls on women. And obviously the B Corp mentality and somebody who works within that framework, could go a long way to changing culture norms around that.

45:11 S1: Sure.

45:13 S2: I have two thoughts on this and they're totally separate, so I'm gonna touch on both of them. So the first is, I recently went to WBENC, which is the Women Business Enterprise National Conference, and there's a heavy influence and presence of Walmart there. And one of the stats that I think is really interesting about Walmart, is that if you walk into a Walmart store fewer than 4% of the products on those store shelves are from women-owned businesses. 4%. That is an astonishingly and statistically unlikely number given that over 50% of our population is female. And so it almost seems like it would take an effort just to have 4% women-owned. And unfortunately, companies like Walmart, they set up mandates and I think Walmart has a 25 billion dollar mandate to increase spending on the presence of those women-owned businesses. And so just knowing who those companies are and actively looking for them is really important. That's not necessarily a B Corp ideal, but this issue around just access is a big one when it comes to women-owned businesses.

46:33 S2: The second one, which is totally separate from this, it's something that we've been really working on at Localize lately, is more of an internal focus consideration about women's issues, which conversely it's about how do we support our men in our organization? And this includes issues around maternity leave. How do we give equitable access to men to support their wives who may not be working for Localize? But part of this whole discussion is about establishing norms that allow the men to equally support the women in their lives, rather than continuing to sort of perpetuate some of the issues. So we always think about the women in our organization as being the ones that we need to support, but there's a sort of other thing around supporting men in a way that allows them to support the other women in their lives too. And so that's been something we've been brewing on a lot lately here at Localize.

47:39 S1: Great, thank you. So another a question that has come in, why a B Corp and not a non-profit?

47:50 S2: Oh, I'll take that. So I don't think that they're at all equal. Oh, gosh this is a tough one. B Corp is for-profit companies and for-profit companies are inherently market driven and non-profits might be, but they also might not be. And so a non-profit is often pursuing a cause as their primary mission. A for-profit often they're addressing on market needs. So there's this middle ground in between the two about how you talk about solving problems with market-driven tools, and I think that's where B Corps fit in. So they're market driven, but they're also solving problems in our world with tools, with the market as a tool on its own to help invest in that problem. Whereas, a non-profit is often somewhat more separated from that although you can make a case around social enterprises working towards that end. So, I don't know that we would need to distinguish the two except that one's for-profit and one's not. It's about the mission.

49:19 S3: This is Sascha, we definitely thought about that. And frankly, when putting the mission first and the vision for where we'd end up and everything. All our dreams came true. To get to that whole point, we felt like a market-driven business or a strategy, was going to be the shortest line to actually realizing universal accommodations for breastfeeding women and a cultural shift around what it means to be a breastfeeding woman. So we definitely thought about it, and the great thing about the B certification is that it gives you that halo of all those other wonderful things that a non-profit... The implications around a non-profit or that many people feel are, but really we put mission first, how do we get there fastest and it would be a B certification and a market-driven type of business strategy.

50:19 S1: Absolutely. So we did have another question, which is more of a clarifying question. So a woman on the phone is applying for a B Corp certification and wants to know if it is better to be a B Corp or an LLC. And so this is where it's important I think to differentiate, and Sascha and Meghan, please correct me if I'm misstating this or not being clear enough. But we, Ellevate, we are still an LLC, we were still that legal taxable entity and then a B Corp is a certification on top of that. So a B Corp status is not a tax status. It doesn't change that. It's more just a certification of the business, your mission, and the steps you've taken to achieve that certification. Meghan or Sascha, do you have a better way of explaining that?

51:23 S3: Well, you can be a Benefit Corporation, fully corporated as a Benefit Corporation. I'm sorry I don't know that much about that end of it, but I do know that it makes things in terms of taking on investors and it's sort of an unknown entity and I think it might even be different state to state, not all states allow for Benefit Corporations. I'm looking at Britney, so maybe Meghan you know more.

51:49 S2: No, that's absolutely true as far as I know. Every state has a different set of rules. I know that when we went through the process that there's a booklet with a long list of distinguishing processes for each state and we're Canadian and so we started our certification in Canada, which has its own process. And I know that for us that included changing our articles of incorporation to include a mandate towards not just pursuing financial benefit for our shareholders, but also pursuing social impact as part of our core requirements to the government, to the organization. And so, that can have implications and one of the reasons why I mentioned that I went and locked down our B Corp certification before we went out and raised money, it was also because of that, because I wanted something that was established rather than something that would have to be changed and discussed at length later.

53:01 S1: Great. Thank you. Well, so thank you so much for joining us today. Johanna is gonna close it all out, but I just wanted to personally say thank you to Sascha and Meghan for all of your contributions, and thank you to everyone who dialed in today as well for your interest in this topic, which is because a very important topic and if you have any questions after the fact, you can feel free to reach out to us, but Johanna do you have any closing remarks?

53:23 Speaker 4: Yes, thank you. Thanks Christie, thanks Sascha and Meghan. This was an awesome jam session and thank you as Christie said, to everyone listening in, especially if you've been tuning in throughout our whole series. We really appreciate it and if you missed any of our previous episodes in the jam session series, like we said in the beginning, all of our jam sessions are recorded, so you can find those at ellevatenetwork.com under Jam Sessions On Demand. So you can tune in and listen to those whenever you can and this session has also been recorded, so it will be available starting tomorrow. But if you have questions still for any of our speakers or any feedback, we would love to hear from you. You can reach out to info@ellevatenetwork.com or through social media at our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. And thank you everyone for listening in. Thank you Sascha, Meghan, and Christie. Really appreciate it. Have a great day.

54:22 S2: You too, thank you.

54:24 S3: Thank you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

B corps consider the impact their decisions have on their employees, suppliers, community, consumers, and environment. As a result, the work they do has the potential to reshape the social landscape. 

Join us as we speak to companies dedicated to using their businesses to make the world a better place for women including healthcare innovation, investing in female entrepreneurs, and advancements in careers and education. 

We'll be joined by Meghan Dear, CEO and Founder of Localize and Brittany Nunnink, Marketing Manager at Mamava.

Learn what they are doing to create change.

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 Speaker 1: Hello everybody, thank you so much for joining us here today. We promise it will be a informative and inspiring session, but we look to you to contribute to that. So if you have questions, insights, please feel free to submit them using the chat function 'cause we really want this to be a collaborative discussion. I wanted to quickly start off with what is a B Corp? You may be asking yourself that question. Easy way to think about it, 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.

00:47 S1: Collectively there's over 1,700 B Corporations in 50 countries that are leading a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good. Ellevate recently became a B Corp. As many of you know, Ellevate's business is, we are committed to closing the gender achievement gap in business by providing women a community to lean on and learn from. Given that focus on the mission and on having a positive impact to move the lens of our business, we really thought that B Corp is a great fit for us. It's a community of like-minded organizations. There's tons of tools and resources that we're leveraging to move our business forward, and to continue having an even greater impact. Today, I'm also joined with Meghan Dear, the CEO and founder of Localize, and Sascha Mayer the founder of Mamava. I wanted to take a moment quickly and ask Meghan to introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about your business, and then after that Sascha we'd love to hear from you as well.

01:51 Speaker 2: Great. So, it's so nice to be here today. Thanks for inviting me. So, my name's Meghan. I started my company, Localize, five years ago. And I started it 'cause I was really annoyed that when I walked into a grocery store, I couldn't figure out where food was coming from. And I had a pretty straightforward solution in mind that was driven by my own background in agriculture. I knew that the information was out there, I just couldn't see it 'cause I was a shopper. And so, Localize is now not just a labeling company that identifies where food has come from but it's also a data company, which collects information about where food has come from, as well as other attributes that are behind the label. Those things that you don't necessarily get to see that give you a lot of context. One of those attributes can be who the owners are, what their gender is, what their background is, what their story is, and we think at Localize that those are informative and that they're important for shoppers to know about.

03:00 S1: Great, thank you. And Sascha, I am excited to hear about you, I'll tell you, as a mom of three, who nursed in many interesting places. What you're doing is just so needed and so fantastic. So, why don't you share with us a little bit more about yourself and your business.

03:20 Speaker 3: Thank you, yeah, I'd love to. So, I'm the co-founder of Mamava, and what we make is a free-standing lactation suite. So moms, particularly moms who need to be away from their baby and have to use a breast pump can do so in cleanliness, dignity, and privacy. And once again, it came from my personal experience, and that of my colleagues, and friends where we had nice support at our jobs, the private office, or a lactation room, but when we went to visit our clients or go to conventions we were often finding ourselves in restrooms primarily. A couple of times the backseats of cars, or once with a client driving in the backseat of the car, and obviously preparing food for your baby is not a place you wanna do that in a restroom. And we came from a design studio where we incubated it and really wanted to solve real world problems. And we thought, "It's not that hard. It's just a self-contained room designed more for let down in this function around breastfeeding and pumping than anything else." So, that's where Mamava came from.

04:41 S3: The name Mamava meaning, momma and go. And now, we actually have units across the country, in about 22 states, 15 airports, about 110 units placed thus far. We basically hired our first employee and spun off in the design studio not until September of last year. So, we're really fast growing, and being really, really well received across a lot of different channels. We conceived of it, once again, in sort of airports, and convention centers, and private businesses, but it's really anywhere moms need to go. We are in zoos. We're in stadiums, hospitals, and we are really excited. One of the first things we did before we even had an office, or actually any full-time employees was become B certified 'cause it was so important to us to run the company with that value set.

05:45 S1: And that's a great entry point into my first question. So becoming a B Corp, we all completed the assessment, and the assessment really focuses on many pillars of your business: Your impact on your workers, your environment, your community, your customers. It's pretty in-depth but for anyone listening today, I would not take that as a deterrent, I would take it as a fantastic challenge, set up for you to go in, answer some questions, save it, go back at another time, and that's how I approached it. But it really caused me, as a business leader, to think through some aspects of the business that weren't top of mind. We're really focused on having a great place for our workers. We're really focused on how we engage with our community and our customers. But the environmental impact, for example, was not top of mind as an online offering. And this changed that. It really helped us to focus on that because it is very important.

06:49 S1: And so I wanted to use that as a lead in for you, Meghan and Sascha, around your corporate mission and values. How are you positively impacting women and how have you incorporated the values of B Corporations into your business? Sascha, if you wanted to start with that.

07:08 S3: Sure, it's a big question. I think it's at the very center of what we do. So when we were answering some of the questions to set ourselves up as a B Corp, it was sort of... At the very center of what we do are the implications for health and well-being and support of moms, families, and culture. So I think that's key, and that's what drives us so the values all ladder up to that. One of the things that what we found also as a small business is, we had to start out as we would go. So even though we maybe wouldn't have the resources to do full family leave policies, especially compared to some major businesses, we put those, really great ones, into our benefits package. All of those things that maybe a five-person company wouldn't initially start out doing, we started doing from the very beginning.

08:27 S1: I was just gonna say quickly, that's important and I would use that as a recommendation for any small business or a business of any kind. There's an opportunity, as you're setting up your mission, or your values and your company structure to engage with your employees, ask them what's important to them in terms of benefits, maternity leave, work/life balance, flex time, whatever those topics are. Work with your employees to create a plan. And maybe it can be hard for small businesses to take on losing income or the various financial and logistical aspects of creating this plan, but if you have a roadmap in place, you start day one and you keep building on that, then you're moving towards something. So it's great that you did that and it's certainly something that we've thought a lot about, as well. But Meghan, yes. Sorry for cutting you off.

09:31 S2: Oh, no problem. This is such a huge topic. We've got our company values for Localize up on the screen here and when I look at that, I sense almost the struggle that we had to articulate those values, to bring words to them. And so I know that when we started the company, we didn't start it so that we could become a B Corp. We became a B Corp because that was a genuine reflection of our internal values as well as the problems that we were solving in the world. And going through the process of a B Corp certification is fantastic because it makes you dig deeper and to start being more granular, to be analytical about how you wanna change the world and how you're gonna measure things, both internally and externally. And I think that's the same, even in looking at our company values, of what do we care about? So when you say that you're gonna go out and articulate those values, you really have to dig deep. You have to analyze it. You have to think about what are the words that reflect genuinely what our team feels? How do we interact with the world? How do we interact with ourselves?

10:45 S2: And so that question of how we're positively impacting women, there's so many layers to it. Certainly, there's this very data-driven approach that we have of just collecting better information about who are the businesses that have women ownership? B Corp's approach's actually measure women involvements at the executive level within companies. For us as well, I think we are a women-owned company, and just the presence of women-owned companies that are succeeding at all scales is in itself an impactful thing, and we often don't tell those stories. Women-owned companies are often smaller scale, and we definitely notice that Localize, because we deal predominantly with smaller scale food companies, and those are the kinds of companies that don't get a really strong voice to what that kind of ownership means, to how that translates into a really busy environment like a grocery store. And so there's so many layers to how women are impacted both by our business, but also just how we think about them in our business ecosystem.

12:07 S1: Sure, and we definitely see that as well in the Ellevate community, it's quite diverse from small solo entrepreneurs to women who are starting businesses to women in corporate America and it's about really, I think, connecting with your constituents, your stakeholders and how can you best serve them and really understanding where the areas of opportunity are. I was part of a meeting recently and this resonated with me. Someone had said, "A company's vision is the future you seek." So as a company, what is this future that you're seeking? And your mission is how you're going to deliver that and how you, as a company, will contribute to that. And that resonated to me because I think we can all see this world where you know where your food comes from, you know how it's sourced, you're empowering local businesses, you're able to lactate in a safe, clean, accessible environment. I mean, I feel like these are all rights that we should have and it's admirable that both of you are leading the charge on how to make that future a reality. So I applaud you for that. Thank you.

13:24 S2: Thanks for that.

13:24 S3: In terms of our values too, we also consider not just the mothers, but we have an interesting challenge of moms or our users that are people who're actually purchasing and placing these are often a very different demographic, facilities people, people who are often more men and older and maybe haven't had the experience. But one of our company values is to empathize, to innovate. So we do put ourselves in the position of what it's like to be that facilities guy who probably also has a wife or a daughter or friends who have gone through this and wants to have a solution. We don't think that it's only a women's issue. It has to be everybody's issue to solve the problem and to support breastfeeding in our culture.

14:16 S3: Another company value we have is 'keep it simple sister', which is like 'let's not make it hard for them to do the right thing'. The company value that we use the most is very internal facing for us. It's 'yes and... ' it sort of comes from that improvisation in theater idea, but we say, "yes" and then we augment it to make it even better, or to go another mile, or to question something. "Yes we could do it that way and we could also think about what the implications are." So we have them. You'll probably find there are certain company values that are very sticky and even sometimes our customers play back to us. So I just wanted to point out that it is about not just moms, but supporting culture as a whole and understanding your audiences also want to help and be involved.

15:17 S2: Yeah, I just wanna pop in on that too. One of our values that we had in earlier iterations at Localize was the word innovation. And you won't actually see that word on our values description now, but the reason is that we really dug into what that meant for us and in so many ways it wasn't tangible enough, it wasn't obvious enough exactly how we created an innovative environment, how we delivered an innovative product, how we performed innovation as an act. And what replaced it actually was problem solving, which is a bit of a funny value to have, but it was something that was just so much more tangible to us. So we're often dealing in incredibly complex systems. We have to break down big problems into small problems that are just one thing at a time, things that we can actually solve, instead of the big stuff all at once. And we recognize that that's actually how Localize has succeeded is that we took big things and we kept breaking them down, breaking them down and we pursued them. And so one of the things that I look for when I'm bringing on new people to my company is actually that relentlessness, that same approach that I had of being just annoyed and frustrated that I couldn't find out where my food was coming from. That's a burning thing that can really propel a company forward in that desire to solve problems.

16:55 S1: Thank you, yeah. It's funny 'cause we talk a lot about innovation here as well and part of it is addressing what's the current situation, what are the current opportunities that we can make better and then how do you push it forward. But I love the way that you talked about that. I'm gonna take a quick moment and say apologize for any loud noises in the background. We are getting a security system today. It was supposed to be completed by noon. Obviously that did not happen. So I'll keep muting when I can, but just as a heads up to that. So the next thing, we've talked a little bit about our values and how we really created those values and the mission of the organization and then it gets into impact. Right? So you're setting up the framework. How do you measure the impact? What are the key things that you look at to know that you're being successful in your mission? And I don't think that that's clearly... It's not always just tied to revenue numbers. It's not so black and white.

18:00 S1: Sascha, we have Mamava up here today, I know you opened up with your description that you are in 22 states and you've really made a lot of headway in the past less than a year. Could you talk a little bit about how you measured the impact of your business?

18:16 S3: That's a good question. Data, drive, business, and it's like a holy grail. So, if you really wanna talk about data, that is hard. I think just the sheer awareness raising that we do because our unit is unique and it kinda stands out, is driving impact even in the few years where this was a bit of a twinkle in our eye or since the last time I had to breastfeed, rates of breastfeeding have increased. I like to think that we're part of that movement, that women are leaning in on this issue as they are on many other issues and asserting their rights. When we first started thinking about this, I think breastfeeding rates were at 77% initiation, now they're at 79%, and we really feel that our solution is like a billboard in support of breastfeeding, sort of elevating the conversation. And the Mamava manifesto speaks to that in terms of quantifying it. One of the things that we are doing is releasing in January a smart lock in association with our mobile app, which already exists, where moms who use the unit and the app can will actually, regardless... When a unit is used, there's a mechanism that will count usage, and if they use the app as well, we can deliver content, pictures of the mom's baby, specific content from Mamava or partners to that user.

19:58 S3: But at the very least, we can anonymously measure usage and be able to go back and say, "Wow, you put this unit in at this airport or at this business and it's being used 10 times a day. You need another one because obviously there's probably a line." So that's the impact on a business level though we can measure, but in terms of a cultural level, just being out there and being part of the conversation, and the very deliberate overt nature of our brand. When we were talking about this idea, we didn't wanna demure behind the mother and child type of ideas, the happy breast logo is very intentional and we feel like pushing some buttons, we are moving the dial. We also have this wonderful universe of social media where we can be hearing from our user mamas who tweet at us, who post stuff on Pinterest, who obviously use Facebook and that is the most humongous sales tools. Britney's job is to be in dialogue with them and also as a start-up, keeps us going. And when we're burning the midnight oil and we hear from some moms who said this is her first business ship away from baby and we've made her day, that is what it all comes down to and keeps us going.

21:25 S1: Thanks Sascha, and I also know you're very involved in some hot topics too. I believe I saw with the NFL, you were working to get Mamava stations into stadiums. Is that correct?

21:41 S3: Yep, we have them already in two NFL stadiums and three major league baseball stadiums.

21:50 S1: As a Yankee fan, I appreciate that. [chuckle]

21:53 S3: So, I think the key there is how many women are working at those places? I happen to know. A thousand women are working at any given NFL game, probably more. And obviously some of those women either are breastfeeding or have the desire to. So, it's not just about the people who can afford that ticket to the professional sport, it's about all the women who are selling the tickets, selling the hot dogs and being able to support them. And so, we try to close in on this class system we have around breastfeeding whether you have autonomy in your job or you can stay at home where your baby can breastfeed, but good luck if you are working an hourly wage.

22:34 S1: Yeah, that's fantastic. And Andrea, who is one of our participants said you should come to the Cowboy Stadium 'cause they'd love to have you in Arlington. There you go. [chuckle] Some great ideas, thank you Andrea.

22:51 S3: Cowboys, tweet to the Cowboys or post on Facebook, it helps so much. So, moms are the ones who aren't purchasing them but they're driving the demand and helping us build our case with those facility guys and at the NFL stadiums and most stadiums, it's like 99% men we have to have this conversation with and some are easier conversations than others.

23:16 S1: Sure, sure, I understand that. And so Meghan, tell us, Localize how do you measure your impact? I'm sure you also have just so many fantastic stories you're hearing from your local farmers and community but would love to just hear more about that.

23:35 S2: Yeah, well, I think that Localize is a step or two removed from being explicitly about creating impact on women, but we collect information and stories. And I think that what's interesting is that I have a team of mostly really nerdy people, we're really interested in the data, we're really interested in growing our database. This is discussed as we sit around the board room and talk about on a consistent basis. There's something really dry about that. And what's fascinating about us is that for every datum that we've collected, we also embed story around it. So we really care about context, so the context of where our food is coming from, the context of its story, we've tried to find ways to normalize stories so that they're not just pitches rather, they're narratives that are telling a certain truth about a product without taking away from it's marketability.

24:38 S2: And so, that's kind of a big challenge to scale and yet probably the story is the most important thing that we do because it actually makes sense out of our world. So I think that one of the most compelling things that we do is share those stories about ownership whether it's a woman owned company or it's another independently owned company who's operating just down the street from us, it's that story that helps us figure out what we care about and how we can connect our values with maybe the information that we're seeing in front of us.

25:20 S2: And I had sort of a thought here too as Sascha was talking about selling this to men, I think that's an interesting thing for us as well. So typically when we're working with a large grocery retailer, we're dealing with a room full of men who are at the senior leadership level who are making the decisions about the types of information programs, the signage, the marketing that goes into their grocery stores. It's often interesting that they have to look at what we do through the lens of what they think their wives would like. And that's a phrase that I often hear is that, "My wife or my daughter, they won't stop talking about foods. About where it's coming from, about their local producers." No matter what the gender that we're discussing or the issue that we're discussing, it's actually that personal piece, that personal story, the narrative that helps people connect to what they're going to care about.

26:33 S2: So this is an issue that's a couple steps removed from the real grocery industry which is very traditional. But decisions can be made at that level by thinking about the stories of the people around them and that's really where, I think, that we've had our most success is driving story whether it's selling our product or it's doing it right at the shelf edge to share those stories about other people's products.

27:04 S1: So there's so many interesting things that I just wanted to make mention of that each of you shared. And we have heard when it comes to investing in women owned businesses, when it comes to services directed towards women, oftentimes there is that disconnect between the end buyer or investor is a man and how do you create that connection and help to change a mindset. So it's interesting to hear your story there, but I wanna take this opportunity to talk to everybody on the call today around impact, developing that leadership, raising awareness and I know Sascha said this around Mamava. If you want a stadium, if you want them in the Cowboys' stadium, use your voice. Tweet, social media, write an article. For any issues that are important to you, the ones we're talking about today or any that that you care about, this is a call to action to use your voice.

28:12 S1: I know through the Ellevate network, we have the opportunity for our members to submit content. We partner with Huffington Post, we partner with Forbes. We really look to elevate your voice and help to connect that to interested parties. And so it's hard to do and I think sometimes it seems a little bit daunting, but when you're passionate about a topic, we are in a day and age where through social media, through writing, blogging medium, other platforms, we're able to really have that voice and that's a big part of this 'Be the Change' B Corp movement as well. It's around really stepping up and using your voice to drive social change and social good. So that's my little call to action to everyone. Today we're seeing both Meghan and Sascha, through their work, really have an impact and go after the issues that they care about and we all have that opportunity.

29:14 S3: Yeah, to follow up on that, can I just be really specific on that one? It's one of the things that I started out with my team really early. It was like, "I wanna do the Toms model of our lactation suites." Give them away but that's a little hard when it's not a pair of shoes but like a $12,000 to $15,000 piece of equipment that needs to be placed and so on. But finally for the first time... I mean, it's been a year but we finally are doing a giveaway and if anybody knows of a worthy, deserving location where one of these would land, not a place like a mall where it could build them, but a WIC office, we are taking nominations. You can do it off our Facebook page or off our website because it's National Breastfeeding Awareness month in August and finally this is a little dream we're realizing for the first time on our own. We're gonna give a unit away from Mamava to a deserving location, and it does help us also just really to be more specific. Facebook likes help us when we go to the Cowboy stadium and we say, "10,000 moms are wanting and talking about this." That is a huge data point for us to share and prove the concept, and that is a worthwhile investment. It's hard for the hard sale, but just still passionate about it.

30:39 S1: Absolutely. No, it's an important conversation to have and the power of the collective voice. And I think we're always top of mind or aware of, but we as a community can really help drive change.

30:54 S3: Yeah.

30:56 S1: And on that note, community, so Ellevate, we're a global professional network, and we really believe in, and this is not a marketing pitch. We do strongly believe that having a community to lean on and learn from, that's the contact that will get you on a corporate board. That's the contact that will talk you through negotiating your raise. That's the person that's gonna invest in your company. That's just... The world we live in, it's about who you know and how you leverage those connections and the education around that. And we've seen that in large part or and we've seen that again through the B Corp community. I would not have known Sascha or Meghan outside of us becoming a B Corp. We've gone to multiple events. We've met so many other companies that are like minded that have just great ideas and great passion that we can partner with. And I believe strongly as well that a big part of change is not going at it alone, it's partnering with other organizations, it's really opening your mind to other areas of opportunity to see how you can collectively have that power to tackle certain issues and problems and opportunities. But I would love, Meghan, what has been your experience with the B Corp community and then just on a larger level, just networking in general, how has that helped grow your business?

32:19 S2: Yeah. I think it's probably the most important thing that we can do, especially as a start-up that continues to scale and grow. Building our networks, building our connections, those are so important. But it also sounds really dry to just be pursuing networks for the sake of it. And you go and you meet other people with common values and you care about the same things in the world, that's a common connection that you can really build on. So, that's taking it past just networking into actually building communities of caring and communities that practice around our B Corp values, our internal values, all of those things that we have some common language around. So finding those communities that you're networking within, where you're already starting off in a place of your values, of what you care about, that is absolutely by far the best place to start. It means that you're gonna have better longevity in your relationship if you're doing business together, then you could talk genuinely about what are your common business goals as well as your other goals for impact, for example.

33:28 S2: I know for us, we've also raised money for Localize and getting that B Corp certification in before we did the raise so that it was really built into our DNA and it was something that we were talking about as a fact, as an existing aspect of our business, that really lended a lot towards bringing in the right investors, talking about the right things, being able to talk more than just about our balance sheet, but also talking about what the company was doing, how we operate, how we exist in the world. And it's hard to get license to talk about those things, but being a B Corp really does give you license to have those conversations.

34:17 S1: Thanks. And so, Sascha, what's your experience?

34:24 S3: I might have lost the thread in terms of the direct question on that one, but in terms of being B certified, it gives us a, for instance our Seventh Generation partner, it gives us the credibility to collaborate with them to find a way to spread our mission, and that's huge. It's interesting because in our case, a lot of the B certified community probably already has lactation accommodations, so they don't maybe represent a customer base in the same way that other communities might. But positively, our partnership with Seventh Generation would be one place to do that.

35:14 S1: Sure. Definitely. I think a network can be so many different things, and certainly it's business opportunities, it's revenue, it's customers. But it's great to hear that, that for you, it really is helping in terms of those partnerships that can be really hard to come by sometimes, particularly as a smaller company that's growing and gaining a foothold. So, congrats on that. That's great. Great partnership. So, the last question is kind of a big question. It's more reflective, certainly. But where are we heading? How do you see the B Corp or the Social Impact Movement evolving? And where would you like to see your own company in five years? Sascha, do you have a plan in place for that or some ideas?

36:11 S3: Sorry, Britney. I were consulting on something, another question. So in terms of where we're headed, can you repeat the question? I'm really sorry. [chuckle] Well, how do you see B Corp and Social Impact Movement evolving?

36:30 S1: Yeah, I know it's a broad question, but do you have any predictions for where it's evolving and where you'd like to see your own company in five years?

36:39 S3: Yeah, so I hope that the little companies in a way almost shame the big companies or non-B Corps into acting in the right way. One of the things that, as I think I mentioned earlier that, it can be frustrating is, we start for instance with parental lead from day one and sometimes that means paying out of pocket even with our policy just because of the stipulation set forth by insurers. And we feel like if we continue to do that in this movement of others like us, even though we're small businesses, eventually we'll be recruiting more of the people that we want away from other corporations. And representing something where broader culture and bigger companies need to go in that direction as well.

37:31 S3: One of the things that I keep on going back to Britney, who manages our relationship with B Corp is like, "I wanna get re-certified, I wanna get re-certified." Because when we originally filled out our certification, we didn't even have any full-time employees including myself so I know we are gonna look so good and we're gonna have so many more points. So the next five years I hope that we are at the tippy top in terms of the points we earn as a certified B Corp and can really be an example to that community of like, "If you begin doing it the right way, look at how that certification plays into your narrative, plays into your attracting of great employees, plays into your awareness and engagement with customers."

38:20 S1: Great, that's inspiring, that's exciting. Meghan, how about you? Where do you see your company going and larger B Corp or Social Impact Movement evolving?

38:32 S2: Well, I think that this is... I'm so optimistic about where this movement is going and it's not just the B Corp movement, it's a ground swell of shifting societal values and interest in making sure that we've got a future. I've got a conference a few weeks ago and one of the questions that kept getting embedded in all the panel discussions was, what about this millennial issue? And I thought it was the weirdest and funniest way to frame the question, but in so many ways we're being defined by the upcoming generation. And this generation in particular they're actually, they're growing up. They're now in the 25 to 35 age range. They're becoming entrepreneurs, they're owning businesses, they're scaling their leaders and organizations. They're no longer just that slightly annoying intern in the office, they're actually our leaders. And they're having enormous influence on the future, as they should. And so, what we're seeing is numbers that are shifting. So B Corps, the number of B Corps in the world keeps going up and I genuinely hope that those numbers really start to skyrocket in the coming years.

39:58 S2: I don't think there's enough B Corps right now. I don't think there's enough companies that are meeting or that are saying that they will be transparent about how they impact the world. What I do think is that there's an enormous number of companies who are already doing it who aren't seeking the certification, who aren't seeking the transparency. And so getting that conversion of high potential existing companies to go and make the declaration, to go and become the certification is really important.

40:33 S2: And then I just wanna say that for the future of Localize, we've gone in the last five years very quickly from curating information about where food comes from at the shelf edge to curating anything. So we're working with other certifiers who have an important narrative about products. And so that includes working with Fair Trade, with Sustainable Seafoods like Ocean Wise, USDA Organics, Rainforest Alliance. We are partnering with these very fragmented data organizations as we look at them because they've got information about the context, about the transparency of products and we want to curate that, we wanna give shoppers more information about that. So in the next five years I wanna see some representation of our company in every retail environment across North America. And that won't just be about local, that will be about curating the other important impactful pieces of information that we think shoppers should know about.

41:43 S1: So I have to tell you, applaud you, that was... You've clearly put a lot of thought into this and that was very, very well stated so thank you for that. So we're gonna get into questions, Q&A, right now. Questions. If you have any questions, you can utilize the chat function. Anyone on the call to send us some questions and we have some that are coming in. But I did also wanna echo some things that Meghan said as well, where I recently attended the Best For New York Awards run through B Corp looking at companies that are doing great things for New York. And I'll tell you, it was amazing just in my little neighborhood in Brooklyn, we had restaurants and suppliers that were honored for what they are doing for their workers, the policies they're putting in place, the paid leave, paying their employees a livable wage, the benefits, the environmental impact.

42:45 S1: So it can be very, very small businesses up to... We know that Tom's, and Ben & Jerry's, and Warby Parker, and Etsy, and Cabot are all B Corps as well. And I think the beauty of this is it's around embracing a lot of these values within your organization of any size and interpreting it in a way that makes most sense for your business. So yeah, I mean I agree. I think there's many businesses that could be B Corps, but they haven't thought about it or don't realize it, and I hope to see many more to come. So thanks for that.

43:22 S1: So we have a few questions that are coming in. The first one: Are there other women's issues you think would benefit from being supported by B Corp company that you're not seeing yet? As I know one of our listeners asked about supporting, I think, parents through the difficult years of being teenagers. And I know Mamava, you're focused on kinda one part of the life cycle being a parent, a very important part. But Meghan or Sascha, are there any other companies focused on issues impacting women that you think... Any other women's issues that you think would benefit from being supported by a B Corp? IT's a little bit loaded, but...

44:17 S3: Everyone benefits from being part of a B Corp. I'm really interested in the sandwich generation of now we're gonna have the huge influx of baby boomers that are going into their senior years and need a different level of care, and our culture needs a different way of thinking about managing that care. A lot of it falls on women. So I don't think it should. I think just like breastfeeding is a family and bigger issue, it's an everyone issue. I think that we need to be thinking about end of life care, as well and understanding that predominantly the management of that care falls on women. And obviously the B Corp mentality and somebody who works within that framework, could go a long way to changing culture norms around that.

45:11 S1: Sure.

45:13 S2: I have two thoughts on this and they're totally separate, so I'm gonna touch on both of them. So the first is, I recently went to WBENC, which is the Women Business Enterprise National Conference, and there's a heavy influence and presence of Walmart there. And one of the stats that I think is really interesting about Walmart, is that if you walk into a Walmart store fewer than 4% of the products on those store shelves are from women-owned businesses. 4%. That is an astonishingly and statistically unlikely number given that over 50% of our population is female. And so it almost seems like it would take an effort just to have 4% women-owned. And unfortunately, companies like Walmart, they set up mandates and I think Walmart has a 25 billion dollar mandate to increase spending on the presence of those women-owned businesses. And so just knowing who those companies are and actively looking for them is really important. That's not necessarily a B Corp ideal, but this issue around just access is a big one when it comes to women-owned businesses.

46:33 S2: The second one, which is totally separate from this, it's something that we've been really working on at Localize lately, is more of an internal focus consideration about women's issues, which conversely it's about how do we support our men in our organization? And this includes issues around maternity leave. How do we give equitable access to men to support their wives who may not be working for Localize? But part of this whole discussion is about establishing norms that allow the men to equally support the women in their lives, rather than continuing to sort of perpetuate some of the issues. So we always think about the women in our organization as being the ones that we need to support, but there's a sort of other thing around supporting men in a way that allows them to support the other women in their lives too. And so that's been something we've been brewing on a lot lately here at Localize.

47:39 S1: Great, thank you. So another a question that has come in, why a B Corp and not a non-profit?

47:50 S2: Oh, I'll take that. So I don't think that they're at all equal. Oh, gosh this is a tough one. B Corp is for-profit companies and for-profit companies are inherently market driven and non-profits might be, but they also might not be. And so a non-profit is often pursuing a cause as their primary mission. A for-profit often they're addressing on market needs. So there's this middle ground in between the two about how you talk about solving problems with market-driven tools, and I think that's where B Corps fit in. So they're market driven, but they're also solving problems in our world with tools, with the market as a tool on its own to help invest in that problem. Whereas, a non-profit is often somewhat more separated from that although you can make a case around social enterprises working towards that end. So, I don't know that we would need to distinguish the two except that one's for-profit and one's not. It's about the mission.

49:19 S3: This is Sascha, we definitely thought about that. And frankly, when putting the mission first and the vision for where we'd end up and everything. All our dreams came true. To get to that whole point, we felt like a market-driven business or a strategy, was going to be the shortest line to actually realizing universal accommodations for breastfeeding women and a cultural shift around what it means to be a breastfeeding woman. So we definitely thought about it, and the great thing about the B certification is that it gives you that halo of all those other wonderful things that a non-profit... The implications around a non-profit or that many people feel are, but really we put mission first, how do we get there fastest and it would be a B certification and a market-driven type of business strategy.

50:19 S1: Absolutely. So we did have another question, which is more of a clarifying question. So a woman on the phone is applying for a B Corp certification and wants to know if it is better to be a B Corp or an LLC. And so this is where it's important I think to differentiate, and Sascha and Meghan, please correct me if I'm misstating this or not being clear enough. But we, Ellevate, we are still an LLC, we were still that legal taxable entity and then a B Corp is a certification on top of that. So a B Corp status is not a tax status. It doesn't change that. It's more just a certification of the business, your mission, and the steps you've taken to achieve that certification. Meghan or Sascha, do you have a better way of explaining that?

51:23 S3: Well, you can be a Benefit Corporation, fully corporated as a Benefit Corporation. I'm sorry I don't know that much about that end of it, but I do know that it makes things in terms of taking on investors and it's sort of an unknown entity and I think it might even be different state to state, not all states allow for Benefit Corporations. I'm looking at Britney, so maybe Meghan you know more.

51:49 S2: No, that's absolutely true as far as I know. Every state has a different set of rules. I know that when we went through the process that there's a booklet with a long list of distinguishing processes for each state and we're Canadian and so we started our certification in Canada, which has its own process. And I know that for us that included changing our articles of incorporation to include a mandate towards not just pursuing financial benefit for our shareholders, but also pursuing social impact as part of our core requirements to the government, to the organization. And so, that can have implications and one of the reasons why I mentioned that I went and locked down our B Corp certification before we went out and raised money, it was also because of that, because I wanted something that was established rather than something that would have to be changed and discussed at length later.

53:01 S1: Great. Thank you. Well, so thank you so much for joining us today. Johanna is gonna close it all out, but I just wanted to personally say thank you to Sascha and Meghan for all of your contributions, and thank you to everyone who dialed in today as well for your interest in this topic, which is because a very important topic and if you have any questions after the fact, you can feel free to reach out to us, but Johanna do you have any closing remarks?

53:23 Speaker 4: Yes, thank you. Thanks Christie, thanks Sascha and Meghan. This was an awesome jam session and thank you as Christie said, to everyone listening in, especially if you've been tuning in throughout our whole series. We really appreciate it and if you missed any of our previous episodes in the jam session series, like we said in the beginning, all of our jam sessions are recorded, so you can find those at ellevatenetwork.com under Jam Sessions On Demand. So you can tune in and listen to those whenever you can and this session has also been recorded, so it will be available starting tomorrow. But if you have questions still for any of our speakers or any feedback, we would love to hear from you. You can reach out to info@ellevatenetwork.com or through social media at our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. And thank you everyone for listening in. Thank you Sascha, Meghan, and Christie. Really appreciate it. Have a great day.

54:22 S2: You too, thank you.

54:24 S3: Thank you.


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CEO at Ellevate Network

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