Here’s an advantage to only having one bottom line: success is easier to quantify. Revenue-based lists like the Fortune 500 give us a handy scorecard for understanding who’s on top of the pack and how the field has changed since last year. But such rankings also reinforce the outdated idea that profit alone is a good measure of a company’s value. What if there were a way to change the game — to create a new set of rules and rank companies based on their positive impact on the world?
That new game is exactly what GameChangers 500 founder Andrew Hewitt has spent the past five years of his life building: a ranking of the world’s top for-benefit businesses. And what’s a for-benefit business? New legal breeds such as benefit corporations (US) and community interest companies (UK) operate with the revenue-generating engine of a for-profit and the mission-driven heart of a non-profit. While laws catch up to changing worldviews and values, Hewitt has taken on the challenge of reclassifying companies as “for-benefit” based on their practices, regardless of legal structure. Thanks to the support of a 180-person advisory council focused on legally defining the “for-benefit enterprise,” GameChangers 500 developed 12 categories of best practices that differentiate these benefit-maximizing businesses. He and his team have refined their criteria to capture and rank the world’s best companies in terms of how much benefit they create.
We’re delighted to partner with GameChangers to publish this first-ever list of the top 25 for-benefit companies, according to the team’s most recent data. These 25 companies are incredibly diverse: some are young, others have been around almost a century; some are small, and others have more than 40,000 employees. They span industries, and their missions vary. But there’s one thing they all have in common: a worldview that defines success as maximizing benefit to all life they touch.
Consider this list a snapshot of where the rankings stand today, based on the 2017 GameChangers 500 methodology; we hope and expect they will change throughout the year, as more companies participate and update their data. Read on to learn which companies made the cut, how they were selected, why Hewitt started GameChangers 500, and how your company can get involved. Let the new game begin!
“Don’t look at GameChangers 500 as another certification,” founder Andrew Hewitt says. “We’re helping companies share best practices and providing an easy-to-understand roadmap of what ‘for-benefit’ means, while elevating companies that are doing it really well.”
HERE’S WHAT PARTICIPATING LOOKS LIKE
Step 1: Sign a declaration stating your intentions to operate by for-benefit principles.
Step 2: Show that your company exists for a purpose beyond profit by sharing your Theory of Change, Impact Report, and/or proof of a legal structure that upholds your commitment. Companies that succeed in this step earn the Purpose-First badge (see right).
Step 3: Demonstrate your practices that provide maximum benefit for people and the planet, and work towards earning the remaining 11 badges.
Step 4: Measure your performance across a triple bottom line. In 2017, companies will also have the opportunity to earn three Performance Leader Achievements, worth 60 points each:
• Financial Strength Leader (based on revenue growth);
• Stakeholder Impact Leader (based on B Lab’s B-Impact Assessment score)
• Global Impact Leader (based on dollars committed to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals)
This badge is the hardest to earn, and requires companies to clearly define their mission and demonstrate their commitment to it through a theory of change that drives strategy, impact measurements that track progress, incentives that keep purpose a priority, and/or a legal structure that ensure social and environmental objectives are upheld.
15 POINTS EACH
GameChangers 500 designed the process of earning these badges to be educational and support sharing practices across companies within the movement. A quick online self-assessment asks companies to rate their performance on a scale from 1 (not an area of focus) to 5 (world-class example) in 11 different categories. If the company scores themselves a 4 or a 5, they’re shown a list of specific practices within that category and asked to share proof — like existing reports and certification — of any practices they follow. If appropriate, GameChangers publishes that proof within the searchable best-practice section of its website. Once GameChangers verifies that a company meets the minimum requirements for a category, that company gets the relevant badge and the associated points.
Financial compensation that fairly considers the living expenses of workers, producers, and suppliers, and also fairly rewards all workers, owners and executives who make significant contributions to the company’s success.
Going beyond monetary compensation to provide exceptional care for the people powering the business; including healthy food offerings, extraordinary office amenities, full health coverage, education subsidies, and an inspiring work environment.
A purpose-driven company culture that engages team members in accomplishing the company mission, fosters coworker collaboration, and hires people deeply aligned with the company mission and values.
REMARKABLE CUSTOMER CARE
Demonstrating genuine care for customers through a graceful purchasing process, extraordinary support, quality guarantees, and other acts of kindness that leave customers remarking about the experience.
WATER & WASTE MINIMIZER
Striving to achieve zero waste through recycling and reusing initiatives, composting and water conservation, and tracking progress towards set reduction targets.
PARTNERS FOR THE PLANET
Choosing suppliers, distributors, and other partners that share a commitment to creating a better world and adhere to clearly defined social and environmental standards.
EMPLOYEE GROWTH ECOSYSTEM
An ecosystem for workers to constantly grow, learn, use their strengths, and advance towards their personal and professional goals.
Earth-friendly materials used to operate the company (e.g., recycled paper), to construct and furnish offices and facilities (e.g., bamboo flooring), and to produce products and their packaging (e.g., biodegradable materials).
A workplace that focuses on creating freedom and minimizing fear by reducing the centralization of power, supporting self-management, and encouraging radical transparency, inclusion, feedback, and fairness.
CARING THROUGH SHARING
Caring for mission-aligned causes by generously sharing business resources such as products and services, meeting space, excess materials, media exposure, company best practices, and employee time and talent.
Striving to achieve carbon neutrality through energy minimization and monitoring, renewable energy sources, eco-friendly transport, and purchasing carbon credits to offset emissions.
VISTA, CA // FOUNDED 1948 // 125 EMPLOYEES B-CORP CERTIFIED AND BENEFIT CORPORATION
This quirky family company brought in $100 million of revenue in 2015 selling organic, Fair Trade soap products. The company lives by six “cosmic principles” — including “treat employees like family” and “treat the earth like home” — that guide everything it does. A key example: the total compensation of the highest-paid employees and executives is capped at five times that of the lowest-paid position.
TRENTON, NJ // FOUNDED 2001 130 EMPLOYEES
TerraCycle’s mission is to eliminate the idea of waste. The company specializes in creating national recycling systems for even the weirdest, hardest-to-deal-with “trash,” from old CDs to cigarettes to stuffed animals to human hair. In partnership with major consumer-goods manufacturers such as Kraft Foods Group Inc., Proctor & Gamble Co., and Hain Celestial Group, TerraCycle runs a network of individuals, schools, and organizations who get paid to help collect otherwise non-recyclable packaging. As of 2016, the company has diverted more than 3.2 billion products and packaging items from landfills and donated more than $15.6 million to charities.
RICHMOND, VA // FOUNDED 2006 110 EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED AND BENEFIT CORPORATION
This management- and technology-consulting firm helps companies manage transformation across areas such as IT, security, and people. It helps private companies and public-sector organizations in industries undergoing major change — like healthcare. Unlike the typical consulting firm, however, Impact Makers is entirely owned by two foundations, and contributes 100 percent of net profits to charitable partners. [For more, see our story from Issue 5 at bit.ly/Issue5ImpactMakers.]
NEW RESOURCE BANK
SAN FRANCISCO, CA // FOUNDED 2006 48 EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED
New Resource sees banking as not just a service, but a way to create a better world. All new loans go to organizations advancing sustainability, and the bank’s $228 million portfolio is currently 89 percent values-aligned. Unlike traditional banks, New Resource invests the majority of its assets within the “real economy” (as opposed to the financial economy, which consists of buying and selling financial assets such as stocks, bonds, currencies, and derivatives).
SAN FRANCISCO, CA // FOUNDED 2001 200 EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED
With sister brand Ecover, this cleaning supply brand is the largest green cleaning company in the world. Its non-toxic soaps and detergents have been sold nationwide in Target stores since 2002. In 2015, Method opened the soap industry’s first LEED Certified Platinum manufacturing plant, in Chicago.
NOVO NORDISK A/S
BAGSVAERD, DENMARK // FOUNDED 1923 42,300 EMPLOYEES
This Danish pharmaceutical company is a leader in delivering care for diabetes and other chronic illnesses. It supplies around half of the world’s insulin, some at reduced prices in developing countries. Its majority shareholder is a foundation dedicated to promoting long-term human health, and the company has a strong commitment to triple-bottom-line practices, including measuring environmental and social impact in its annual reports.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK // FOUNDED 2013 200 EMPLOYEES
This British insurance company has more than 40 million emerging-market customers in 15 countries, 85 percent of whom had never previously been able to access insurance. MicroEnsure pays claims in about two hours, and has worked with its customers in marketplaces and villages to develop new insurance products like micro-health, political violence, crop, and mobile phone insurance. The company started as a nonprofit in 2002, and converted to a for-profit social enterprise in 2013.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA // FOUNDED 1921 3,000+ EMPLOYEES // EMPLOYEE-OWNED
Recology offers commercial and residential recycling, composting, and garbage services to more than 125 communities in California, Oregon, and Washington. This year, Recology will manage approximately 2.3 million tons of materials generated within those communities, with an eye toward finding new ways to process and reuse what was once considered waste.
IRVINGTON, NY // FOUNDED 1984 1,300 EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED
Three decades ago, founder Eileen Fisher started a women’s clothing brand with $350 and a vision of simplicity and elegance. Now, without ever having engaged outside investors, she runs a $450 million company with more than 60 stores worldwide. The company is transitioning toward 100 percent sustainability in sourcing and manufacturing, which it plans to accomplish by 2020. [Read our Issue 3 cover interview with founder Eileen Fisher at bit.ly/EileenIssue3.]
VENTURA, CA // FOUNDED 1973 2,000+ EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED AND BENEFIT CORPORATION
This outdoor equipment and clothing company has long been a leader in the for-benefit world. Its expansive list of initiatives includes political advocacy (see page 30), $78 million in cash and in-kind donations to environmental organizations to date, Fair Trade wages for laborers, and constant innovation in its supply chain — most recently, through implementation of a responsible wool standard. The company’s mission is “to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
”WE’’RE BETTER THAN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.”
PARIS, FRANCE // FOUNDED 1984 // 14,000 EMPLOYEES // NONPROFIT
Groupe SOS is an umbrella for a sprawling array of more than 400 businesses and associations serving 12 French states and 35 countries. Some of its “structures” are nonprofits, others social enterprises. Its mission, “To provide solutions for people at all levels in society, and especially those with few or no resources,” is broad — and so is its reach. Its businesses include residential shelters for drug addicts, homeless people, and troubled youth; AIDS assistance programs; daycares; retirement homes; hospitals; an online store selling ethically sourced items; and an event space that provides jobs to the hard-to-employ, among many other ventures. Groupe SOS also publishes several magazines.
Tactically, the group has grown so big by taking over and rehabilitating troubled enterprises, as with its 2012 acquisition of a large hospital chain. One of its businesses is a central management team that handles HR, finances, legal issues, and other functions for all of the other businesses under the umbrella.
“We’re better than the private sector,” Board Chairman Jean-Marc Borello told La Croix newspaper, “especially because we don’t have shareholders or dividends to pay out. We do a better job than the public sector, too, because our associations are more flexible and more efficient.”
Q: Why did you start GameChangers?
Andrew Hewitt: I watched so many of my friends graduate from university, rise in the ranks of traditional companies, and become more and more dissatisfied by the profit-at-all-cost corporate mentality. It made me wonder: What is a definition of success worth putting your life into, that gives you a deep sense of meaning, that allows you to contribute your strengths to something you really care about while meeting your financial and personal needs? What organizations would allow people to thrive like that?
There was clearly a new model of business emerging. But where do you find these companies en masse? I looked and looked and looked and I could not find that database that truly represented this movement. So I decided to create it. It actually started as GameChangers 100, because I didn’t think there were many companies; then I started researching and it turns out there were way more than I imagined.
Q: What do you hope a list like this will accomplish?
AH: These rankings are really important for two reasons. One is to separate the performers from the pretenders. How do you know that the thing driving a company is a real belief that the business exists for the benefit of all life? GameChangers 500 leans on proof of practices to verify companies are actually having an impact. This is a merit-based process; companies can’t pay to get on the list.
And, two, it allows us to create models to follow. We’re not just a list. We exist to share the best practices of the top performers. The sooner we can properly communicate the for-benefit model to the masses, the sooner it will replace the traditional profit-at-all-cost model. Our GameChangers.co platform, which launches in 2017, not only profiles and ranks companies, it also includes a searchable database of best practices and experts in those areas. We want a critical mass of for-benefit businesses in every major city in the world, and we’re building tools to accelerate the transition.
HOW TO JOIN THE GAME
Go to gamechangers500.comfor full details on how to get your company involved.
CAJAMAR, SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL // FOUNDED 1969 7,300 EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED
South America’s largest cosmetics company is also one of the world’s largest B Corps. Its products help preserve the Amazon rainforest by creating greater, more lucrative demand for living-forest products — like seeds and fruit — than for wood or other forest-destroying uses. Since the company was founded in 1969, it has been driven by relationship selling, reaching millions of consumers through 1.37 million Natura Environmental Consultants in Brazil and 505,000 in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, France, Mexico, and Peru. In 2015, Natura concluded its first Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) assessment. In addition, the company’s Sao Paolo distribution center was designed to fully integrate people with physical and cognitive disabilities into the labor force. [Read more about the company in our Issue 5 story at bit.ly/Issue5Natura.]
SAN FRANCISCO, CA // FOUNDED 2007 320 EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED
This free, open online platform allows anyone to start a petition campaign and immediately mobilize people around the world to create change in 196 countries and counting, from stopping bullying in schools to ending acid attacks in India. Nearly every hour, a petition on the site achieves a victory. The company makes money through sponsored campaigns and by allowing users to promote petitions for a fee.
BROOKLYN, NY // FOUNDED 2005 920 EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED
This global online marketplace for crafters and artisans is on a mission to reimagine commerce to build a more fulfilling and lasting world. In 2016, the company moved into new headquarters (pictured), furnished with art made by more than 250 local artists and Etsy sellers. The company is currently seeking Living Building Challenge certification.
BLAINE, MN // FOUNDED 1978 2,300 EMPLOYEES
Aveda creates plant-based hair, skin, and body products for beauty professionals and consumers. Its main manufacturing facility in Minnesota uses 100 percent wind power, and the company sources 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic for its packaging. Aveda engages in fair compensation practices with all suppliers and uses organic, plant-based, sustainable and renewable ingredients whenever possible. The company has raised more than $50 million for Earth Month since 1999 and more than $44 million for clean water initiatives.
LOS ANGELES, CA FOUNDED 2006 400+ EMPLOYEES
Best known for its distinctive fabric slip-on shoes, TOMS has been one of the most successful pioneers of the one-for-one business model. For every unit of shoes, eyeglasses, bags, or coffee the company sells, it donates a related product or service to people in need elsewhere in the world. As of 2016, the company has donated more than 60 million pairs of shoes, restored eyesight for more than 400,000 people, provided over 335,000 weeks’ of safe water, and supported safe birth services for more than 25,000 mothers.
ZEIST, NETHERLANDS // FOUNDED 1980 // 1,200+ EMPLOYEES
This European bank has branches in the Netherlands, UK, Spain, Belgium, Germany, and France, and held €8.2 billion ($9.2 billion) in total assets at the end of 2015. The bank’s mission is to make money work for positive social, environmental, and cultural change, so it invests only in sustainable enterprises and only with the “real money” entrusted to it by savers and investors. One of its more unusual practices is publishing information about every loan it makes, so customers know where their money is going.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA // FOUNDED 2007 400 EMPLOYEES
D.light designs, manufactures, and distributes solar solutions for people in the developing world who are without access to reliable light and power. Its lanterns, multifunction lights and phone chargers, and financed solar home systems hold the largest market share in a variety of regions, and the company also has offices in New Delhi, India; Nairobi, Kenya; and Shenzhen, China. As of September 30, 2016, the company had helped generate 125 GWh of renewable energy and enabled over 65 million people to have access to clean energy.
ME TO WE
TORONTO, ON, CANADA FOUNDED 2009 150 EMPLOYEES B CORP CERTIFIED
First there was Free the Children, a charity founded by teenagers Craig and Marc Kielburger in 1995 to help with international development and youth empowerment. The Kielburgers also wanted a way to bring kids on volunteer trips to the places the charity was working, so they created a side business. Eventually, the charity morphed into WE Charity, and the side business expanded its scope and mission to become ME to WE, which exists entirely to help fund the WE Charity. ME to WE sells artisan goods like raffiki bracelets, runs summer camps and leadership institutes, and provides volunteer service trips to school, family, and business groups. The company gives the charity half its profits; those donations totaled $8.5 million between 2009 and 2015. Its artisan programs also give full-time employment to more than 1,500 women in Kenya and Ecuador.
“WE TOOK A COMPANY BASED ON OIL AND TURAED IT INTO ONE THAT MAKES SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS FROM RENEWABLE MATERIALS WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY.” – ERIN MEEZAN, INTERFACE’S UP OF SUSTAINABILITY
ATLANTA, GA FOUNDED 1973 3,500 EMPLOYEES
In 1994, this maker of carpet tiles launched “Mission Zero,” a promise to eliminate any negative environmental impact it causes by 2020. As of 2016, the company is on track to use only recycled or bio-based materials by its target date, and has already cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 92 percent, its water use by 87 percent, and its landfill waste by 91 percent. Now Interface is going even further with its new mission, Climate Take Back, which is focused on actually reversing climate change.
SEBASTAPOL, CA // FOUNDED 1996 75 EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED
Guayakí sells organic, Fair Trade yerba mate tea. But that’s just a side gig to fund the company’s main mission, which is to steward and restore 200,000 acres of rainforest in Argentina, Paraguay, and Southern Brazil, while creating living-wage jobs for nearby residents. Growing mate in the shade of the rainforest has allowed the company to accomplish both of those goals at once in a creative, profitable, sustainable way.
VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA // FOUNDED 1946 2,594 EMPLOYEES // COOPERATIVE
Canada’s largest credit union shares 30 percent of its net profits with members and community partners — more than $287 million since 1994. It’s the first North American financial institution to become carbon neutral, and a fifth of its $4.5 billion loan portfolio is invested in impact enterprises.
CLIF BAR & COMPANY
EMERYVILLE, CA // FOUNDED 1992 975 EMPLOYEES
This family- and employee-owned performance nutrition product maker is best known for its Clif energy bar. Five bottom lines help the company consider decisions from multiple perspectives, with an emphasis on sustaining the business, brands, people, community, and planet. Clif calls those its “Five Aspirations” in recognition of the fact that the business is on a journey and can always do more in each of those areas.
THE HONEST COMPANY
PLAYA VISTA, CA // FOUNDED 2012 500+ EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED
Actress Jessica Alba founded this home care, personal, and baby products retailer to sell non-toxic alternatives to the mainstream products that had made her and her child sick. The company’s mission is “to inspire and empower people to live a happy and healthy life,” and it partners with public and private healthcare, childcare, and early learning institutions to create safe spaces free from ingredients of questionable health and safety.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN // FOUNDED 2003 1,200 EMPLOYEES // B CORP CERTIFIED
Afghanistan’s largest mobile phone and telecommunications company sees itself as providing a crucial service to its customers: as its slogan goes, it’s Nazdik Shodan, or “bringing you closer.” As one of the largest private companies in the war-torn country, it offers crucial job training and opportunities to Afghan nationals, with a workforce that’s 20 percent female. The company has a community engagement arm that builds schools, playgrounds, and wells, and it has also developed a model under which local communities take responsibility for the security and maintenance of the cell towers in their neighborhoods, providing both employment and a sense of engagement.
This article was written by Conscious Company Magazine’s team of writers and editors.