Earlier this year, when we learned the 2016 B Corp Champions Retreat was scheduled to take place just down the street in Durham, North Carolina, the Lulu team went into overdrive, feverishly working to earn the 80 points required for certification. We were determined to attend the event and this past Summer we received our certification. Unfortunately for us, the planning committee decided to relocate the retreat in protest of North Carolina’s discriminatory law HB2.
So, instead of a 20-minute drive to Durham, we packed our bags for Philadelphia. Kathy Hensgen, Lulu SVP of Operations, and I flew to Philly to represent Team Lulu and the state of North Carolina as we know it – a community that may be imperfect, but is full of innovation, love, and determined to heal the hurt of HB2 and grow towards a more accepting society.
Because of HB2, I was worried Lulu would be treated like the embarrassing cousin nobody wants to sit next to at Thanksgiving. Instead, we were greeted with open arms and words of encouragement from other B Corps – exemplifying this year’s theme “Towards an Inclusive Economy.”
Here are some lessons we learned during the Retreat:
Business Can be Compassionate
We are not robots. Lulu is a business run by humans to help other humans create and share their content. We can use the humanity of our business to influence communities using a platform that reaches thousands of people each day.
Lulu may not directly cure diseases or end world hunger, but we can amplify the voices of our authors who take on these difficult issues. Whether it’s talking about issues of social justice or raising awareness about problems faced by our stakeholders, businesses should take a stance.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
So far, Lulu has scored 80 out of 200 points on the B Corp Impact Assessment. That means there are at least 120 points of improvement remaining to tackle. We learned from other B Corporations the best way to guarantee continuous improvement is to create an internal team that holds members accountable.
This is not only a better way to get stuff done, but it also encourages employee engagement. Who doesn’t get fired up about their work when they know they are making the world a little better day by day?
Inclu$ivty & Diver$ity
We’d all like to say our work environments are inclusive and accepting.
However, if the workforce isn’t diverse, the business may be falling short of proactively reaching out to diverse candidates and using hiring practices like removing names from resumes and posting on a variety of job search engines.
If we wish to better serve our communities, businesses should seek diversity by recruiting an employee from groups who are chronically under-employed such as domestic abuse survivors, veterans, returning citizens, and anyone who has been out of the workforce for a substantial period of time. The more perspectives available, the greater the chance we’ll have to resolve business questions and effectively serve our customers.
Telling the B Corp Story
At Lulu, we haven’t been shy about our B Corp certification, but we haven’t climbed to the rooftop and shouted for the world to hear.
Authors and readers, we need your help. You are some of our most important stakeholders. The books you create and read with Lulu and our sustainable print-on-demand technology are crucial to our B Corp certification. Choosing Lulu means that you are an advocate for environmental and social change. You believe in the power of for-profit businesses to do good.
So spread the word that you are part of this great B Corp family! You hang out with the likes of Lulu, Etsy, Dr. Bronner’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and many more. In fact, you probably have some awesome B Corps in your area.
We encourage you to reach out to those businesses and show that you’re in it to win it. The more momentum the B Corp movement gets, the faster we will achieve an inclusive economy.
Learn More About Our B Corp Journey
Sheridan is Lulu’s Coordinator of Sustainability and Outreach. She is an author advocate, B Corp Champion, friend to all cats everywhere, and a clog aficionado.