Cameron Madill is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Portland, EO's 2017 Global Citizen of the Year winner, and founder and CEO of PixelSpoke, a web design and marketing agency. We asked Cameron to share his experiences with business giving back to the community as a B Corporation. Here's what he had to say.
I'll never forget the day: June 10, 2015. Compelled by a desire to better understand the worldwide refugee crisis, I had taken a week away from my job as CEO to volunteer in a refugee prison in South Texas.
Angelina, a graceful, petite Guatemalan woman in a bright pink shirt, sat across the table from me filling out a legal questionnaire. Her 8-year-old daughter hid shyly behind her, occasionally looking out at me with large, luminous eyes before disappearing behind the chair again. Angelina looked me in the eye and said, "No puede pasar el mismo a ella que habia pasado a mi. (What happened to me cannot happen to her.)"
Two months earlier, local drug trafficking gangs had called Angelina and demanded a bribe or else they would kidnap and do unspeakable things to her daughter. After a neighbor's daughter was found murdered following similar threats, Angelina and her daughter fled in the middle of the night, leaving everything behind and beginning the 1,500-mile journey to the United States on foot.
Six days later on the flight back to Portland and my life as an entrepreneur, I processed my experience. I realized that there was a story within the story: This wasn't just a prison, it was a private business. They had sales targets to hit, profits to make, and strategic priorities to accomplish--all based on the incarceration of mothers and children fleeing violence. And this detention of victims was on a contract so overpriced we could have booked them all into The W Hotel in downtown San Francisco for less money.
Everything that I have come to love about my company--the bias for action, the bonds formed when a tight-knit team works together, the thrill of competing and winning--was turned completely upside down by my volunteer experience. And it inspired me to think deeply about what kind of company we wanted to be and how that relates to growth, profit and success.
This led me to discover the community of B Corporations, a group with a simple premise: You can measure your company's impact the same way you measure its financial results, and you can actually be more successful as a result. The core of the B Corp. certification is a broad-based standard for measuring the impact of a company--think of it as the P&L for your company's impact. Your score is benchmarked against all participating companies, and if you exceed a certain standard (80 points) you earn the prestigious B Corp. certification and can market yourself as a member of our community. B Corporations are re-assessed every two years, and your impact scorecard is publicly posted.
As a company, we haven't sacrificed financial results by becoming a B Corp.―we've amplified them. Over our last two years, we've had net profits of 19+ percent and grown 25 percent each year, while also making over 3,000 loans to small business owners around the world through kiva.org and donating hundreds of hours to protecting consumers from predatory lenders. And, I've returned to volunteer at the refugee prison in Texas six times.
How has prioritizing our impact made us more successful financially? I've learned there are three big benefits to committing to the B Corp. standard:
- Recruit better talent. We've seen that potential employees often research B Corporations extensively once they learn we are a member of the community, and are more excited by this element than anything else. B Corps. provide a veritable "how-to" for engaging millennials: be purpose-driven, authentic and committed to a great culture.
- Engage existing employees more deeply. Gallup's research shows that over 70 percent of employees are either disengaged or actively hostile toward their employers. The B Corp. standard guides you toward numerous ways to improve employee engagement and inspire your team to brag about the type of company they work for.
- Attract more customers. Today, more than ever, consumers want to vote with their dollars and align themselves with a brand that shares their values and beliefs. Having a B Corporation certification offers consumers an easy way to understand what you stand for.
On the edge of my laptop I keep something that's very special to me. It's a yellow sticker from Angelina's daughter; she put it on my laptop while I was interviewing her mother back in 2015. I've kept it on my computer ever since as a symbol of what really matters in this world, and as a reminder to give as generously as that 8-year-old girl.
It's been an amazing journey over the last two years, and as a result, today I have a business where my heart and my head both participate fully. What could be better than that?
Are you inspired to start your journey as a B Corporation? To measure the impact of your company and amplify your success, take the B Quick Impact Assessment.