Why would we stop at “profit” when people and planet need us?
How Portland Internetworks became a certified B Corporation.
Oh, how we love fixing things. Making things better. Making whole systems more secure and fast and efficient and profitable. It scratches an itch. Makes us smile. Gives us a reason to don our raincoats in the morning, take that coffee to go, and head to work.
And over the years, we’ve realized that we don’t just live to make I.T. systems work better—as a company, we’ve naturally gravitated toward things that made our world better, too. Because while society measures companies’ success through revenue and growth, Portland Internetworks has always pushed beyond that to grow our impact as well. We’ve attracted a fantastic team of people who love serving their community as much as they love fixing unreliable networks or fortifying systems’ security.
All our mamas and our papas raised us to never brag, so you probably haven’t heard much about our drive to do good. We’ve always done our volunteering projects and pro bono I.T. grants just because it feels right. We’ve composted our leftover kale salad. We’ve worked hard—and listened hard—to serve people better, both our internal teams and external community.
But, could we do even better? This year, we realized that doing something rather unexpected and radical—becoming a certified B Corp—would make this mission to serve people and planet an official part of our permanent DNA. It would hold us accountable to do good, for good. B Corps have to re-certify every few years, showing how they’re not only serving humanity and the environment but also doing better and better all the time. This appealed to us as people who constantly re-analyze our skills and services to meet ever-evolving demands on technology and humans.
We were immediately interested when we learned about the B Corp movement and “the triple bottom line” – people, planet, profit. We connected with B Corp organizations in the community and heard their stories about using their businesses to serve their people, reduce their environmental footprint, and connect with other similarly aligned organizations to scale these impacts even further, and the certification process provides them with a road map to continuously be improving these efforts.
So, we got to work. Earlier this year, we revisited our company’s legal structure and became a benefit corporation. Meanwhile, combing through countless policies and business practices to assess the effects of these decisions, socially and environmentally, and making improvements where we can. We’re beyond excited about the changes that we’ve been able to make during this process, including (but not limited to) minimizing our energy usage, increasing our parental leave, and creating the framework for providing financial education for our employees.
For us, becoming a certified B Corp doesn’t just mean celebrating passing an exam and sticking the seal at the bottom of our website – It means acknowledging our responsibility, as a business, to the people and environment that surrounds us. It means considering the long-term effects on our stakeholders with each decision that we make. It means being the change that we wish to see in the world. It signifies our commitment to sustainable growth and provides us with a roadmap to build both our profits and our social and environmental impacts, simultaneously.
We’re excited to join other organizations using their powers for good. (A notion that positively thrills our posse of kung-fu movie devotees.) We’ve accepted the mission: now, as a newly-minted B Corp, we will leverage all the forces we have as a thriving community business and do right by the earth, the economy, and the people who work for us and live on our planet—both around the corner, down the street, and across the global business community.