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23 April 2024

Cultivating Leadership becomes a Certified B Corporation

Written by
Jim Wicks and Marco Valente

Scaling our impact by joining forces with a global network of businesses working as a force for good in the world.

At Cultivating Leadership, we don’t just dream of a better world; we live, act and work to do what we can to make it happen. Jim often quips, “We’ve never had office walls with which to hang our values, so our global collective then has no choice but to live them.” We are not alone in this endeavour, nor do we think that doing things alone is the way to create change and impact on a global scale.

We’re delighted to share that our growing global collective is now a certified B Corporation.

As a B Corp, Cultivating Leadership is counted among businesses that are leading a global movement for an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy. This means that we believe in and have committed to: 

  • Being the change we seek in the world.
  • That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place matter.
  • Through our services, practices, and being with one another, our work should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.

To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon one another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.

Read on to learn more about why we’ve taken steps to become certified, our journey to this point, and what this means for our people, our clients and the future we dare to help create.

Wait, what is B Corp? (Skip this bit if you are familiar with B Corp)

B Corps are a global network of businesses founded on the premise of a shared hope for a better way to do business: better for workers, better for communities, and better for the planet.

To join this fast-growing movement, businesses must undergo a certification process, which includes regular re-certification to ensure their commitment to continuous improvement in three key areas: Human Flourishing; Sustainability, and Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (JEDIB).

B Corp seeks to disrupt the way of thinking in for-profit spheres where stakeholder value trumps all, even at the risk of negatively impacting others and the planet. B Corp starts from the assumption that businesses can and should commit to balancing profits AND purpose for the benefit of all people, communities and the planet.

So, in essence, B Corp is a standard for environmental, governance, and social responsibility that is granted to for-profit companies that submit a thorough report on several dimensions and provide evidence for their sustainability and responsibility credentials. You can learn more about the movement here.

Why B Corp?

This was all Marco’s idea. “How about we become a registered B Corp?” he said one day to Jim. Thankfully, Jim answered, “Sounds like a good idea. What do you actually need to make it happen?”

Here we are two years later, thanks to plenty of support from our Colleagues to clarify our Position Statements. We are also grateful for the unwavering guidance and support of Sara Blenkhorn and her team at Leverage Lab

Our purpose is to cultivate leadership that shapes a just, diverse, flourishing, and sustainable planet. B Corp’s purpose and values align with our own, so it made sense for us to choose to be assessed against their high standards, which are known globally to be rigorous and respected. The B Corp network also provides companionship with like-minded businesses, which we think is essential when tackling the complex issues facing our world.

What are we committing to?

Becoming a certified B Corp means that we have committed to continuous improvement. For us, this is underpinned by three key pillars: human flourishing; justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging, and sustainability. Our position statements outlining our commitment to each pillar can be viewed here:

What changes?

Nothing and everything. Nothing, because we’ve always been on a mission to be a force for good in these areas. Everything because, as our clients and friends well know, humans and systems are constantly changing and developing all the time, and this is also true for us. 

More specifically, this process has kindled a learning journey for our developmental community. To assist us in continually improving the way we operate and reducing negative impacts on the planet, such as our carbon footprint, we have created measures and benchmarks. We will be regularly reporting on how we are doing, and B Corp gives us support in doing this in accordance with best practice.  

What did we learn along the way? 

Cultivating Leadership was set up as a place where people could work together as friends, applying shared ideas to make a difference in the world. Growing organically from humble beginnings on the Kāpiti Coast of Aotearoa New Zealand, we now have more than 90 people globally, with five different operating companies across the world. We have a high-trust model founded on the values of friendship, generosity, reciprocity and learning.

We see this as just the beginning. This is what we have learnt through our journey so far:

  • How we can extend our reach and impact through connection and relationship. 
  • We can continue to live our values and retain our identity while still being part of a larger global community.
  • We are learning to be more thorough in measurement and accountability structures.
  • Our unconventional business model can be difficult to understand, so it is worthwhile for us to continue to develop the way we talk about it so that others can glean value from our ways of working.

What’s more, we have learned a lot about humility and tenacity. Jim admits that the initial rejection due to a score of 24 (the pass level is 80!) was a real “kick in the guts”. He says that facing the initial rejection, and then building measures into our systems while learning to articulate exactly how we show up in the world has been both frustrating and liberating. Yet, through this, we have learned to work well with experts and value the complicated and obvious alongside the complex.

The learning journey doesn’t end here. As mentioned above, our commitments act as lanterns to guide us on the path to continuous improvement. Long term, we hope that being part of the global B Corp community will enable new paths to explore and new friends and partners that we can meet and hopefully do meaningful work with.

Join us on the journey

Where are you on this journey? We’d love you to share your learnings, and wonderings with us.

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