A few months ago, Manoverboard and a number of other B Corporations here held a luncheon at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights called the Future of Business. Because of time limitations, I didn’t read the entire talk that I had prepared, skipping over a few key items. I re-read the piece and it’s not bad and I figured I’d post it for future reference.
Thanks for reading.
We’ve Got the Greeks to Thank
I’m going to start with the ancient Greeks — so bear with me.
The Greeks not only gave us many of the precepts of democracy and civilization, they also gave us some very powerful metaphors for describing our relationship with the world.
According to the famous myth, Pandora was the first woman on Earth, created out of clay on the order of Zeus as punishment to Prometheus and his brother for upsetting the gods. The story goes that Pandora was given to the brother of Prometheus, along with a beautiful box. Zeus told her that she was not to open it under any condition but, being curious, one day, well, that’s exactly what she did.
Pandora opened the box and out of it flew all of the most dreadful things in the world: disease, poverty, misery, war, famine, sadness, and deprivation.
Like Pandora, we, too, have opened the box given us. With the massive burning of fossil fuels, rapid population growth, the loss of species, 50% of the world’s children living in poverty, the growth of too many people willing to use violence as a means of power — we are experiencing challenges that governments, NGOs, and individuals are all struggling to address.
Human activity has contributed to a very changed and changing climate. And with the Internet, of course, we now know nearly everything about everything.
The result is that our understanding of the world is much more complex than the ancient Greeks could have ever anticipated.
Business is Hope Made Human
But here’s the thing. At the very bottom of Pandora’s box was something else that asked to be released. And that thing was Hope.
When Pandora let Hope out of the box, the story tells us that it touched every one of the dreadful things released, driving them away.
It is also Hope that drives business. All entrepreneurs hope that their idea, their product, or their offering will work and will grow and will make them and their shareholders profitable, their employees’ work meaningful, and their families comfortable. Hope succeeds and business is one of the most important means of expressing our hopes on the planet.
Real Hope is not about succeeding for oneself. It’s about giving oneself to a larger mission or purpose. It’s about helping others, providing opportunity, and working to protect and conserve our precious environment.
As the first B Corp incorporated in the province of Manitoba, we adhere to a triple bottom line of people, planet, and prosperity. It means that we not only care about our work and our clients but about how we operate in delivering our work to those clients. And it means taking on projects that will ideally help transform our relationships and our connection with the world.
At Manoverboard, I believe that our work as a small business can have an impact. We take on design and marketing challenges for our clients with results that are intentionally long-term, sustainable, and measurable. We also spend a percentage of our time on pro bono work, volunteering in the community, and pushing ourselves to live by sustainable practices.
In September, we scored in the top 10% of all B Corps for worker impact as a 2014 Best for Workers list, an honor that demonstrates commitment to employees’ well-being. And in about a week, we will be releasing a study that we commissioned on green website hosting.
Hope is Nothing Without Real Change
B Corporations represent a conscious and highly deliberate decision to practice business differently. It is disruptive in the very best sense of the word — we can continue to operate under the systems and regimes of business while critically redefining what it means to succeed. Hope has become more than a driving force in business—it’s now also a measure of its success.
I hope (yes, hope) that you will consider being a part of the movement.