Why You Should Work for B Corp and How to Do It, with Kathleen Everett

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 235:

Why You Should Work for B Corp and How to Do It, with Kathleen Everett

Air date: March 18, 2020

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to find the work you want.

Nonprofits aren’t the only employers in the social change business. Certified Benefit Corporations, or B Corps, are private companies that strive to make the world a better place.

Here to talk about why you should work for a B Corp and how to do it is Kathleen Everett.

Kathleen is the client and business relations director at Boly:Welch. It’s a B Corp that offers recruiting, staffing, and executive search services.

She joins us today at the Mac’s List studio in Portland, Oregon.

Kathleen, let’s start at the beginning. What is a B Corp exactly?

Kathleen Everett:

That’s a good question, and I can tell you that when Boly:Welch engaged in a B Corp, it really was something that we had to learn about as well. It’s a long process but it’s about an organization that’s willing to do the work because it takes a lot of work to fill the requirements. It’s about sustainability, it’s about loyalty, transparency, it’s really about reshaping the workplace and I think that you’ll find that there are now about 2,500 B Corps started in 2006, and it’s something that you’ll find on a company’s website. It’s a B with a circle on it.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, and how is the B Corp exactly different from an ordinary private company or a nonprofit.

Kathleen Everett:

Well, it’s not a nonprofit; it can be a for-profit company. So, that’s the part…I think from a top-down approach, you’re really looking at a lot of the owners or founders really thoughtfully putting together what they want their impact in transparency with their employees and oftentimes their customers.

The good thing is, is that I think you’ll find B Corps will transcend over all types of businesses and that’s the part that I found fascinating, is that you’ll see food and beverage, professional services, manufacturing, engineering, all kinds of different companies.

Mac Prichard:

I’m glad you brought that up because I can imagine when people hear “Social Change” or “Mission Driven,” they’re thinking, “Oh, well this must be a social service organization or a for-profit contractor that helps people with disabilities,” for example but is that not the case, Kathleen?

Kathleen Everett:

You’re totally right, Mac. It’s not, it’s actually companies that are across a wide spectrum and so, I even find it interesting, if I were looking for a job I would definitely want to put that on my checklist of who they are, what they are, and make sure that this may be something that I would want to apply for a job for.

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned that B Corps are for-profit entities, and so they’re managing for the bottom line, but they’re managing for more than one bottom line, aren’t they?

Kathleen Everett:

They really are. They’re kind of the triple approach of wanting to make sure that their employees, their clients, their customers, everybody is really thoughtfully involved in the process, and so they’re not a nonprofit. You really have to get away from that kind of thinking. And so, I think if you’re looking for a job to do some work and you really just even go to the B Corp website, you can find out a lot of information about who they are, what they are.

Mac Prichard:

The triple bottom line, that’s about profit but it’s also about environmental and community standards, isn’t it?

Kathleen Everett:

Very much community standards. I think one of the things that we hear about now is companies are no longer bad or good. I think we have to get away from companies being thoughtful in so many of these aspects, and so that triple bottom line really makes sense. And I think, so often, because we see so many different candidates, when we introduce them to what they are and say, “Go off on your merry way to see what a B Corp is,” they’re kind of fascinated. And so this is why this is a really great opportunity for somebody looking at both, (I know it’s big here in Oregon) but looking at nationally what a B Corp is. I think it’s just an eye-opener.

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned earlier there are about 2,500?

Kathleen Everett:

Yeah, I believe so.

Mac Prichard:

Is that across the United States or across the world?

Kathleen Everett:

I looked, I did check this out. I believe it’s across the United States. I was on the website even earlier just making sure that I was accurate.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, and so it’s not just in Oregon and the Pacific-Northwest; this is a National…

Kathleen Everett:

Very much so and it’s growing quite a bit. I think in Oregon there were probably a lot of early adopters. I think they found, especially the social change part, and it’s very much about inclusion and equity, but I think you’ll find that all kinds of companies and in all pockets of the country are really adopting and understanding what a B Corp is versus a Benefit Corp.

Mac Prichard:

You work for a staffing and executive recruiting firm. I bring this up because you talk to job seekers all the time, and do you find that, Kathleen, and I know you mostly serve clients in the for-profit sector, do you find that the job seekers you work with who get positions with the clients you serve, how important is meaning in their work to them?

Kathleen Everett:

That’s really another great question, and I think across the board, it’s very important. I think that when we see so many candidates, I also deal with clients, so I deal with both spectrums, they’re both equally important and they’re both very important. But when candidates are really doing their search and really trying to learn about the companies that are out there, because oftentimes B Corps are maybe smaller tiered companies that you might not be aware of, but understand the value of who’s making the decision, how transparent they are, are they truly creating a culture of community? And all of those things really roll up to, I think, additional intrigue for candidates.

Oftentimes, it piques their interest to the point that they’re like, “Wow, I need to go back and do some more research.” I’m like, “Yeah, you kind of do because you’ve just missed probably a huge opportunity of companies that you would never have known about that are right in line with some of your interests.”

Mac Prichard:

Can you give us some examples of the kinds of B Corps that you work with? I know many of these examples are in Oregon but I expect they hold true across the United States. Are we talking about grocery stores…

Kathleen Everett:

Well, obviously, there are grocery stores that we work with. I’ll tell you even one…

Mac Prichard:

These are B Corps?

Kathleen Everett:

These are B Corps, and we actually deal with both nonprofit and for-profit companies, and big and small. So, I think that we are a nice microcosm of a wide spectrum of clients. One that’s interesting that’s right here in the Northwest is Northwest Permanente, which is a division of Kaiser. They are a B Corp and I don’t think very many people even know that they are, and it’s just a big company, it’s in the medical field, it’s dealing with a lot of doctors…

Mac Prichard:

They provide dental services too, I think, don’t they?

Kathleen Everett:

Actually, the Northwest Permanente is actually the hub for where the doctors all…they manage all…

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so it’s in the healthcare?

Kathleen Everett:

It’s in healthcare, yeah and so sometimes people didn’t realize that and I think that’s a large organization but they can manage these expectations. It really shows you that it’s not just a company of 25 people that’s a B Corp that’s pretty easy to do.

They also…a B Corp is not for everybody and there’s some thought process with that, as well.

Mac Prichard:

I want to talk about that and I just want to complete painting that picture of the opportunities that are available because I know sometimes people hear about B Corps and they think, “Oh this is a small consulting operation or just a few positions.” In your…when you look at the community here in Oregon and across the region, you see big employers like Kaiser Permanente.

Kathleen Everett:

Well, yeah, exactly, and there’s also food and beverage employers, there are manufacturing, which is more manufacturing getting into it which can be a challenge because of the requirements that you have to fill. The other thing is you need to know, (which is very important) is that a B Corp, once you are a B Corp, it does not mean that you don’t have to have checks and balances. You have to continually report and it’s not something that this…rubber stamp in other words, so that makes sure that your leaders still are maintaining transparency, community, and diversity, if you will, as well.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so mission-driven organizations, there are regular recertifications, I think it’s a 2-year cycle.

Kathleen Everett:

That’s correct.

Mac Prichard:

Right, and I should share, not only is Boly:Welch a B Corp but so is Mac’s List.

Kathleen Everett:

Yes.

Mac Prichard:

Which is the producer of this podcast, and like your organization, we’re driven by a mission ,too. To make hiring more humane.

Kathleen Everett:

Right, and I think sometimes…and I think you just used the word mission-driven. I do think that mission-driven is probably a doctrine in all companies. I don’t think it’s the main premise of a B Corp because people think, “Oh, it’s just a mission-driven organization.” That’s not it because of the fact that it’s being inclusive and sustainable and like I said, really reshaping workplaces on multiple platforms and that’s how we participate in it as well.

Mac Prichard:

I know you know this and I do because we’ve gone through the recertification process at Mac’s List. When you get certified what happens is, you look at the business processes of the company, and with the eye towards making them more sustainable environmentally and more community-focused. For managers and employers, can you talk about some of the benefits of being a B Corp and how that helps with the company’s operations?

Kathleen Everett:

That’s also interesting because I think we do it now automatically. Meaning that we have ways of creating sustainable practices, you know, health and wellness in the workplace and diversity. And so we have, even though we’re an organization of about 45 people, because that’s part of the B Corp doctrine, we are allowing our individual employees to find out what they really like and have a passion for, and it could also be community and volunteerism, and help lead those efforts. They are supported from the top down but because they’re always changing, so nothing’s in place, it’s a pretty dynamic opportunity.

The interesting part about that is for candidates to understand that from a B Corp you could really be involved in an organization or let’s say you apply or interview with an organization that’s a B Corp, it would just open up an idea of doing more than just your skill-set, and I think that that’s what we have found even at Boly:Welch, is that we continually are evolving and adding new ways to participate in the B Corp doctrine.

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about people who are looking for work. Why should they consider working at a B Corp? What are the benefits of doing that, Kathleen?

Kathleen Everett:

Well, I don’t want to take it for granted but I do meet people every day who don’t know anything about it. Now, that’s okay. That’s why we’re here and that’s why I think, as a recruiter, and because we deal with so many different companies on a regular basis, our job is to help educate a candidate to say, “Have you ever thought about this company? This is the reason why I like this company.”

And a B Corp is just one of them. It can be other things as well, that’s okay, but I think to not do your research and either go on to the website of what a B Corp is, as well the company itself and their website to see how much they promote their B Corp practices, because sometimes it will be pretty quiet. You may have to do your own research.

I just think you’re really selling yourself short of the opportunity if you interview, and a cover letter, and I mean let’s be honest, you need to find the passion of what links you to that organization, maybe even more than just the skillset that you’re offering, and I think when you connect those dots, you’re really a better candidate.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk about that but I want to step back and, again, if you’re a candidate and you’re considering two companies, you’re equally excited about both, what’s going to make the B Corp different? In the view of the candidate, is the B Corp going to do something different for its employees? Is it the emphasis on that triple bottom line that’s going to make it stand out?

Kathleen Everett:

Well, because I work for one, I guess I’ll be a little biased here, but I do think that the opportunity that we, as potentially candidates or employees, I think that transparency is a big one.

Mac Prichard:

What does transparency mean to you, Kathleen, in a B Corp?

Kathleen Everett:

I think transparency really means all of those practices of how they hire, how they show their profitability. I mean, are they really going to share with you some of the mistakes they make? And that’s one of also that the B Corp doctrines is when they don’t do something right, will they share that with you? Yes. That is the goal of a B Corp.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so if you’re an employee at a B Corp, you’re going to know what the…you’re going to understand the finances of the company and what the numbers are.

Kathleen Everett:

Yep, you really will and I think you’ll understand the direction of the organization. I mean, let’s be honest, you’re not going to know everything.

Mac Prichard:

Right.

Kathleen Everett:

Not every leader has to share everything, but I think if you’re really looking at a company and you were to have, and we do this all the time, when a candidate has 2 really viable positions or interests, let’s say, one could be interest of companies or one could be, let’s say, they made it to the final round of an opportunity. And in this job market that could be the case. But looking at a B Corp, oftentimes, is a test for them as far as where they can give back on the day to day work, as well as what they can enjoy about the company long term. Even in their after hours.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so there are opportunities to contribute to the community that you’ll find at a B Corp you might not find at other companies. You mentioned transparency and finances. What does transparency in hiring mean?

Kathleen Everett:

Well, I think we’re moving in those directions. I wouldn’t say every company…

Mac Prichard:

At a B Corp is my point.

Kathleen Everett:

Yes, at a B Corp, and I think even at a B Corp still…I mean, what’s really interesting is a B Corp you do get regular updates and information on how to be a better B Corp and one of them lately has continually been…is an employer that brings diversity and being inclusive to your workforce. They help educate you. They really help you, kind of give you the additional tools in the toolbox, and we’re that organization that does it, but even us, I think we really do take the advice of what the B Corp experience, maybe that’s working for B Corps across…and the interesting part is it applies to all types of businesses, not just professional services.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, I want to take a break and when we come back, Kathleen, I want to talk about how to find B Corps when you’re looking for work, and what you might do differently as a candidate when you apply for positions at these companies.

Stay with us. We’re talking with Kathleen Everett. She’s the client and business services director at Boly:Welch and we’re talking about why you should work for a B Corp and how to do it.

Values matter to hiring managers at a B Corp. And so do results.

When you interview for a job at a B Corp, you can expect to get behavioral questions. These are designed to get examples of how you’ve tackled the challenges an employer faces.

Do you know how to answer a behavioral question?

We have a free guide that can help. It’s called 100 Behavioral Interview Questions You Need to Know.

Download your copy today. Go to macslist.org/questions.

You’ll get a list of the most common behavioral questions. You’ll also learn a four-part strategy you can use to answer any of them.

Go to macslist.org/questions. It’s free.

You’ll impress a manager at a B Corp if you’ve researched and understand the company’s values and mission. But you also need to show what you can do for the firm.

A good response to a behavioral question describes the results you produced for past employers.

Do you know how to put together such an answer?

Go to macslist.org/questions.

Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Kathleen Everett.

Kathleen, before the break we were talking about the benefits of working for a B Corp and how B Corps are different from other private companies.

Let’s talk about how to find these companies and what candidates might do differently when applying for positions.

Let’s start with the research; how do you find a B Corp?

Kathleen Everett:

Well, this is the part hopefully someone’s going to get a great takeaway. You can go right to the B Corp website, and it does an awesome job of giving you the list of companies, by geography and interest, and so you can, which I have done because I want to see who my other partners and what they look like, really see the B Corps that you would never know otherwise. You can see what they do, the company and start your research that way.

Mac Prichard:

I know there’s a national site. Can you also find B Corps outside of the United States by any chance by visiting this website?

Kathleen Everett:

I believe so but, I mean, actually, that’s a great question, Mac. I’m not totally sure.

Mac Prichard:

That’s okay but I do know, as I know you do, that it’s a global movement, so these companies can be found in many other countries besides the United States.

Once you get that list, what do you recommend people do next in terms of figuring out whether it might be a good fit or not? How should they further research those companies?

Kathleen Everett:

Well, the other good thing is that on that website as well, it gives a real good orientation of what a B Corp, so you can…and there’s great questions and answers. It’s really well-written, the website’s clear, simple, concise. So, just like we do all research, you can do some really quick, down and dirty, research on what it is and why it might be of interest. And that really, for me, it piques my interest, and once you see some companies that you like, and I would also pick some companies that maybe you don’t know anything about. Go to their website, connect the dots, and see if they’re being transparent and how they communicate their own culture on their website. See what jobs are available, and I think, 100% do your research, know what you’re talking about, see what the values that they share on that website might be in line with the position that you have in interest, and being thoughtful and doing your work, so that you know that, whatever they do and whatever you’re good at.

If it’s a food and beverage company and they make a product that you are really interested in, but there’s a B Corp philosophy there, tie those together and make sure that they are aware when you send your resume in that you’ve connected the dots and you can reference that. It makes a huge difference. It does to us and I’m sure it does to you, Mac.

Mac Prichard:

Why does that stand out? Because you talk to hiring managers all the time, you work at a staffing agency so you see applications every day. When you see someone make that connection, why does it make a difference to you?

Kathleen Everett:

It’s the thoughtful process of truly connecting the dots and doing your research as opposed to blind resumes that you send in when a company clearly has on their website who they are, what they are, and a little bit about their culture. And every time we talk to people that really start to articulate that as best they can, it always makes a difference. It piques their interest.

Mac Prichard:

In addition to looking at a website and learning more about the company and the fact that it’s a B Corp, what other kind of research…

Kathleen Everett:

Well, there’s Yelp, there’s Google, there’s all the reviews out there, the social media that we do to figure out…

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, but what’s going to make a candidate stand out who’s interested in working for a B Corp? What kind of research?

Kathleen Everett:

Well, I can tell you from the amount of interviews that we do, one is always the person, just their style, their comfort level, the ease that they…the way that they are. There’s nothing more than being authentic. Authenticity is the first and foremost. Secondly is, like I said, doing the research of connecting the dots, and if you can infuse a casual conversation of what you’ve seen on that website, what a B Corp is and be able to talk to it in a really casual way, you always stand above your peers and other candidates that we’re looking at.

Mac Prichard:

Values matter to B Corps and I imagine that they matter a lot in the hiring process, as well. I wonder about technical skills. Those are still important, aren’t they?

Kathleen Everett:

Technical skills are critically important and so, obviously, everything that you bring to the table in regard to your education, technical skills, all of that is really tying the bow together. I think that the B Corp is the part that so many people don’t know about. I love it when people raise their eyebrows and go, “I had no idea that existed.” And the opportunity to help educate somebody that this is another avenue of a platform of companies that may be of interest to weave your technical skills, your passions, your value for sustainability, and diversity inclusion together.

Mac Prichard:

Anything that you recommend a candidate do differently when interviewing for a job at a B Corp? Should they talk more about their values for example, is there something that…an expectation that a hiring manager might have at a B Corp that you wouldn’t find at a private company?

Kathleen Everett:

I think being authentic in that respect is a value. I think always looking at the leaders of that organization, these are all things that I do myself, but making sure that you’re aware of who they are, using LinkedIn effectively, being able to put together a really thoughtful conversation that just sets you above, either, potentially, your peers or other candidates does make a difference. I think being able to speak to something that you’ve done in your personal professional life that is a B Corp value, whether it be something health and wellness or sustainability, something along that way that just shows that you are authentically a good fit here. Even if you were an engineer, those are the hard skills that they want to make sure that you have well but I think it does make a difference.

Mac Prichard:

There are a lot of companies out there as you mentioned, that offer these…that are hiring, that are B Corps, about 2,500 I think you said. Can somebody build a career in this sector? It’s still a relatively small number.

Kathleen Everett:

Yes, I think you can. I mean, obviously, if you look at Portland here, we’re lucky to have quite a few B Corps, and I think that you could be a leader. There’s always room for leaders that have different skill sets that can add to that and I think that there are organizations, there are outside organizations of areas of interest. We belong to a lot of those, we attend a lot of those along with our peers, being ambassadors for a B Corp. I think there’s room. It’s not the one and only thing in the world, by all means, there are new things coming aboard all the time, but I think that just not understanding what it is and just looking for jobs you would be selling yourself short.

Mac Prichard:

Is there a career path here, Kathleen, if you work at a B Corp is it going to lead to a job with a different B Corp or is this just a stage in a career?

Kathleen Everett:

Well, it could because of the growing B Corps. Let’s say, if you’re a food and beverage executive, yes you could very easily, I think, have a segue into another larger, maybe career path that is a B Corp as well and with that, you gain credibility, that you are able to leverage your skills of what you brought to that organization. There’s definitely value to that. It’s another skill set that you could put on your resume.

Mac Prichard:

How do you recommend people get involved in the B Corp community if they’re not working for a  B Corp?

Kathleen Everett:

Well, there’s…because of the events that they have, you can go onto the website and see events or you can…it’s very open, it’s obviously very inclusive, so it’s a great opportunity to come and share and see the fun and what the culture’s like. I think people would be very surprised that it is very diverse, so it does speak to, because of the nature of all the different types of organizations, it’s an interesting stage that definitely piques people’s interest.

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a great conversation. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?

Kathleen Everett:

Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate this. It’s always nice to introduce people to new things. Boly:Welch has been around for 36 years and we are an organization that really values both our candidates and our clients. We have launched a new executive search group called, “Agency,” and it’s a great opportunity to continue to do the good work that we do in Portland.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I know people can learn more about you, Kathleen, by connecting with you by email and your email address is k.everett@bolywelch.com.

Kathleen, you’ve had so much great advice today about working, about B Corps, and how to get a job with one. What’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about why you should work for a B Corp and how to do it?

Kathleen Everett:

With all the other things that I talked about, I think just being open-minded and continuing to grow in the knowledge that companies are changing and hopefully we get away from good and bad. That we’ll all just do great work.

Mac Prichard:

Values matter at a B Corp. So do results. And that’s why managers at these mission-driven companies ask job applicants behavioral questions.

Do you have your answers ready?

Get your free copy today of 100 Behavioral Interview Questions You Need to Know.

Go to macslist.org/questions.

Next week, our guest expert will be Brandon Laws. He’s the marketing director at Xenium HR and the host of the podcast, Transform Your Workplace.

At many companies, a computer, not a human being, reviews and ranks job applications.

Brandon will share his advice for how you can beat these applicant tracking systems and get your resume in front of a hiring manager. I hope you’ll join us.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

Are you ready for a career that allows you to impact your community and the world, outside the nonprofit sector? No matter which field your expertise is in, B Corps offer you an opportunity to make that impact. B Corps are companies that are dedicated to transparency and reshaping the workplace, according to Find Your Dream Job guest Kathleen Everett. If humane hiring practices, sustainability, and loyalty to employees and customers are important to you in your next position, Kathleen offers some helpful advice on how to work for a B Corp. 

About Our Guest:

Kathleen Everett has over 30 years of experience teaching companies how to compete with speed, while reducing costs and improving service. She is the Director of Client and Business Relations for Boly:Welch, a Portland B Corp that offers executive search, recruiting, and staffing services.  

Resources in This Episode:

  • For more information and a list of B Corps, visit B Corporation online.