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Independent Consulting (IC) TIG Week: Doing Business as a Force for Good: B Corp Basics for Evaluation Consultancies by Liz Martin, Rochelle Zorzi, and Lynn Dare

Hello! We are Liz Martin, Rochelle Zorzi, and Lynn Dare of Cathexis Consulting, an evaluation firm and Certified B Corporation™ (B Corp™) based in Tkaronto (Toronto, Canada).

B Lab™. Used with permission.
Every B Corp™ is scored across the five impact areas in the B Impact Assessment: workers, environment, customers, community, and governance.

In 2019, our firm chose to seek B Corp certification. As a B Corp, we’re part of an international movement in the private sector that believes business can be a force for good in the world. B Corp certification is open to companies of all sizes – even a company of one can qualify.

B Corp certification affirms that a company meets high standards of social and environmental impact. If you’re an independent evaluation consultant, this way of doing business probably aligns well with how you already work – as it does for us!

Maintaining B Corp certification requires continuous improvement, which pushes us to look for growth areas. In the past few years, we’ve focused on supporting the growth and development of our team members and advancing  our efforts related to truth and reconciliation, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. The B Corp network provides access to training, development, and knowledge sharing that inspired and guided us in this work.

Encouraged by what we’ve seen other B Corps do, our team of 10 consultants has:

  • Started an annual anti-oppression reading group that delved into topics such as: systemic racism, ableism, the climate crisis, and Indigenous rights, with staff and leadership engaging in discussions about how we can apply what we’ve learned in our workplace and in our roles as evaluators.
  • Created a company-wide action plan for truth and reconciliation and one for anti-oppression.
  • Introduced learning and development pathways for new evaluators who join our team.

Hot Tips

  • Explore B Corp resources and reach out to B Corps. Browse the B Corp website, knowledge base, and  directory of B Corps. Reach out for a conversation with a B Corp: we are eager to share lessons learned and support the growth of the movement!
  • Go through the B Corp impact assessment. You can use the assessment to improve your business even if you don’t apply for certification. The assessment tool can inspire you to create new policies and implement changes to your governance or operations. Check out the B Corp Certification Readiness Resource and this guide on how to take the assessment as a small or medium sized company.
  • Document your practices and achievements. This is where our evaluator skills shine! Certification requires you to demonstrate how your company meets the standards, so gather up governing documents, employee handbooks, client testimonials, staff surveys, and any other evidence you’ve got.
  • Reach out for legal advice. As a B Corp, you’ll have to make a legal commitment that ensures the protection of your company’s mission and accountability to interest holders beyond your company’s shareholders. Incorporating this legal commitment can take time, so get advice early.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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