In late November, Seer Interactive became B Corp Certified! Our road to certification was long, beginning in June of 2022 when we began the B Corp assessment.
The B Corp assessment contains 180+ questions which left no stone unturned.
This process led us to examine every aspect of the company. Things like:
- Demographics of workers and suppliers
- Environmental impact
- Legal documents
- Industries of our clients
- So. much. more.
This exercise led to some validations and, more interestingly, some realizations that we weren't always making the impact we thought we were though.
The data and comparison that B Corp assessment enables allowed us to challenge our egos and shine a light on those areas where we need improvement to truly live into our values the way we want to.
1: We volunteer a lot, but we should be doing more
Seer was founded, in part, to allow team members to easily give back to their community. In the early days, we made it a part of our acceptance offer:
In 2011 we required people to volunteer 3 hrs/month to accept an offer. I honestly at the time I wanted a filter at Seer people who wanted to put in real work to help their communities were my kind of people. (Lawyers made me drop it, but we did it from 2006-2011. pic.twitter.com/pADQtpYHuR— Wil Reynolds (@wilreynolds) June 4, 2020
Today, Team Members receive unlimited PTO to volunteer as well as curated opportunities as an organization to participate in volunteer events. This past October, we had folks from across the country converge in Delaware County outside of Philadelphia to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity.
In 2022, our team volunteered 5,075 hours, more than double what we’d done in previous years. And (coming soon), we'll announce our continued improvement on that for our 2023 hours.
I think it's pretty clear we were ecstatic about our volunteering effort growth over the past 2 years; and for good reason!
However, the assessment quickly humbled us and pushed us to check our ego a bit after asking us to:
Calculate volunteer hours per capita
In other words, we calculated the number of hours volunteered in 2022, divided by total hours our team worked in 2022. That calculation revealed:
1% to 2.4% of Seer's team's time is spent volunteering.
4.8%+ is what it takes to receive a top score and be comparable to other businesses our size.
I continue to be excited by our team getting out more and volunteering over the past 2 years and also now I look forward to growing that with this new, solid, vetted goal that the B Corp assessment gave us to work toward.
In 2024, you'll see us begin to scale our pro bono offerings as one way we can make it easier for our team's to volunteer.
2: Remote-friendly environmental actions were easier to take than I thought
When I got to the environmental portion of the B Corp assessment, I was a little nervous.
Pre pandemic, when virtually all of Seer’s team members worked in an office, there were a lot of policies that were environmentally friendly, such as bike parking in the office, flex spending for public transportation, and office composting bins.
Would we be able to translate this to a remote workplace? The answer was a resounding yes!
After I went through some environmentally focused questions in the assessment, I was able to make some easy changes to Seer policies already in place that encouraged our teams to practice environmental stewardship in their home offices.
Our documentation now guides folks around budget support and tips for home office actions:
We provide budget for Team Members to:
- Recycle eWaste
- Compost services / DIY equipment
- In our Philly HQ, Par Recycle Works is our partner for all office eWaste
Seer's tips on "greening" your home office:
- Replace incandescent or fluorescent bulbs with LED light bulbs
- Purchase chairs, desks, lamps, and other office furniture second hand
- Turn off lights, printers, monitors, and computer speakers when not in use
- Consider switching your energy supplier to renewable gas or clean electricity
3: Some actions were not as easy to implement as we thought
[Pro Tip] It’s best to avoid giving aspirational answers on B Corp assessment questions. (even w/ the best intentions!)
When we started the B Corp Assessment back in June 2022, our answers to some questions were aspirational. In other words, we checked yes to some questions when we should have answered no.
The thought process was, we’ll implement those changes, they seem easy enough to do. We had success with implementing environmental actions, what's a few more?
But then time passed, staff changed, and priorities shifted.
All of a sudden it came time for verification and as it turns out, we didn’t make those "easy" changes.
It was a hard lesson in setting realistic expectations.
My advice to others going through the B Corp assessment:
- Answer questions to reflect what is documented and happening at your company today.
The exception I now make to this rule is if there is an unwritten policy at Seer that I can document within an hour.
- Instead of giving aspirational answers, use the goal setting feature within the assessment to hold yourself accountable. This allows you to set a goal, with a specific follow up date.
If you end up meeting that goal before you finish the assessment, great! You can now change your answer.
However, if weren’t able to make that change, it means you won’t lose points later during verification and you still have it as a target that you can start working towards.
4: There are some things we’re never going to do and that's OK
While going through the assessment, it’s easy to get both overwhelmed and sidetracked by some of the questions. My head was spinning:
- Are we thinking about tracking our carbon emissions?!
- What about our energy usage?!
- Are we monitoring indoor air quality?!?
For Seer, the answer to all of these questions was no. And at first, it was hard to resist the urge to implement everything and try to change those answers to a "yes."
However, the reality is that for us to continue to be successful as a B Corp Certified company, we’ve got to focus on the things we already do well and that align most closely with our values. Those are the areas to grow and deepen our commitments to our community and environment. That's where I need to spend my time and our team's time.
So sometimes we're going to say, "no, we're not going to do that," and re-invest our time into our focus areas where we can create the biggest impact. And I'm learning to be OK with that.
Bonus: We treat our team members well
Before we end, here's one area we'll never stop working to improve in and we were happy to get some validation on our ability to do this well during our evaluation.
When we started the B Corp assessment, I was very confident that we would score high in the “workers” section of the assessment.
On this particular one, I'm excited to say my hypothesis was correct!
Seer has invested in its team members in so many ways including:
- $65K salary minimum (compensation strategy)
- Robust health insurance plan
- Unlimited PTO
- Parental leave policy that doesn’t distinguish between caregivers
All of these pieces and more led to a strong score in this areas. It's one I'm excited to continue building momentum in and finding ways to innovate on.