Why Purpose Enables Profit
Why Purpose Enables Profit
B Corporations (B Corps) are a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Silver Chef is part of a growing community of more than 2,441 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
The commitment to become a B Corp is a big one. It is a thorough assessment that analyses a company’s governance, transparency, environmental and social impact.
These new types of companies voluntarily hold themselves to higher levels of accountability. Constant improvement and setting new stretch targets is part of the journey as Certified B Corps have to re-apply for their status every two years.
What society demands of businesses and people is constantly evolving. Expectations to create a significant impact and drive noticeable change are higher and society is looking to corporations to play their part in addressing social and environmental problems. B Corps stand for a new way to do business. Across the globe B Corps are using the power of business to contribute to the problems in the world and in order to do this, we need to lead by example. We need to show our industry and beyond that this new way of doing business is not a trend or fad and it will become the norm.
It is important to note that being good for business is also good for the bottom line. We’re not talking not-for-profits, B Corps are businesses, big and small, that have realigned their values and are taking the community, environment and their employees as seriously as they take turning a profit… it’s the new capitalism being led by a wave of social entrepreneurs and CEOs who actually care. We are in good company - some of the world’s largest B Corps include Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia, Etsy and Laureate (the world’s largest higher education organisation) and many more.
Since its inception in 1986, Silver Chef has provided hospitality funding to more than 30,000 customers, from start-up cafes to large restaurants and hotels. Silver Chef was first recognised as a B Corporation in 2015, and we have recently recertified at the end of 2017 with an almost 15 per cent increase on our original score. As one of only four publicly listed companies, this is an achievement we are all incredibly proud of.
Giving, community and using the power of business for good is at the core of everything we do.
By being unified in our beliefs and our vision, we have implemented a number of initiatives that have contributed to our recent B Corp recertification, including:
1. Work Welcome Program: This program provides meaningful work to disadvantaged and underrepresented individuals in the Australian community such as refugees. The Work Welcome program offers up to four paid intern or work experience roles each year for a 12-week period. The program is designed to reiterate Silver Chef’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Since its introduction we have had two Work Welcome participants and have seen a significant impact on our team and leaders who have worked with them, building empathy, understanding and shared perspectives.
2. Reducing our environmental impact: Silver Chef has established a formal program for reducing our environmental impact in the community. The program ensures we measure our carbon footprint, set goals and implement initiatives to minimise the impact. Examples of processes that have been implemented include reducing our waste and broadening our recycling effort.
3. Giving Policy: We have formalised our giving practices by committing to donating one per cent of net profit after tax to helping people out of poverty. By 2020, the organisation has a target of helping 1.5 million people out of poverty. According to our partner, Opportunity International, our contribution already has helped just over one million.
4. Good Buys: We have implemented a new process for aligning our purchases to our purpose by seeking to partner with fellow B Corporations and local and environmentally friendly suppliers. Like attracts like, so collaborating with a supply chain that supports what we do and vice versa, is fundamental to the success of our business and our partnerships collectively.
5. Adding Purpose to Job Roles: We are forever evaluating how our practices impact our employees and are always seeking new and unique ways to improve. Our People and Culture team are the custodians of this program, which includes regular updating of job descriptions to ensure our team members live and breathe purpose. As such, we have now added the business purpose to every employee’s job description and are working on aligning this with each team member’s development plans.
6. Parent Rooms: One of the core values we live by is true flexibility. An example of this is our dedicated room for parents returning to work. The parents room is a meeting room that has been converted into lockable, private, quiet space with a feeding chair. It also has power and a refrigerator to allow nursing mums to express. Given the age of our workforce, this was an important addition for us.
7. Increasing Staff Volunteering: Together we can achieve more. Silver Chef has turned its attention to increasing staff volunteering because not only is this beneficial to personal and professional development, it promotes teamwork and external collaborations. Recent volunteering partnerships included The Salvation Army, Foster Hope NZ, The Animal Welfare League Queensland and the Cedar Science Indigenous Mentorship and Outreach program in Vancouver.
8. Staff Socially Responsible Super: Silver Chef recently added this as an option for team members along with an education program. It allows our staff to select a super option that meets responsible investment standards to ensure their money isn’t doing the planet and its people harm.
9. Virtual Working Environmental Guidelines: We promote work–life balance, health and happiness. We have developed an online training module for staff to provide tips on how to incorporate environmentally friendly practices within their own working environments.
10. Not-For-Profit Guidelines: Silver Chef has had a long history of supporting not-for-profits, social enterprises and community fundraising events. We have formalised our processes to enable these groups to access Silver Chef refurbished or new equipment at discounted rates.
11. Opportunity International Customer and Partner Giving: To date, according to Opportunity International, Silver Chef has helped over one million people in developing countries. Silver Chef aims to extend donations externally and often communicate to our customers about how they too, can partner with our charity Opportunity International.
12. Diversity and Inclusion training: Silver Chef places emphasis on treating each other fairly and showing appreciation for individuals no matter what their background is. As such, Silver Chef has developed a training program to enhance diversity and inclusion culture at Silver Chef. As a result, we have found it has had a significant impact on team engagement and morale.
Five tips for companies bigand small considering B Corp certification:
• B Lab Australia has a great, free tool, the B Impact Assessment – jump online and use it to get a sense of where your business is at, so you can identify key areas of improvement.
• Becoming a successful B Corporation is about making sensible and considered decisions across the organisation, from procurement to internal processes – everything is up for review!
• Put together a team to help you undertake a meaningful audit of your organisation – we find this creates a great opportunity for people to collaborate around purpose and share what is important to them.
• Consider ways to utilise being ‘good’ in business as a competitive advantage. For example, being a B Corp is a great recruitment tool for prospective employees; having certified ‘credibility’ or a trusted mark appeals to many consumers.
• Review your communication channels; implement and maintain an inclusive and collaborative culture and communicate this well. Sharing your purpose, vision and desire to make an impact is contagious and will permeate to your customers, the community and beyond.
Damien Guivarra has been the Chief Executive Officer, Silver Chef Australia and New Zealand since November 2016. Part of the Silver Chef family for more than 12 years, Damien has had a variety of roles within the organisation, from marketing and sales-focused positions to operational management and now leads his team in developing innovative, flexible and affordable funding solutions.
Silver Chef - an ASX listed company - is Australia’s only dedicated hospitality funder. Committed to helping customers achieve their ambitions for more than 30 years, the team is entrenched in the world of hospitality and passionate about seeing businesses big and small thrive.