Reflections from the 2018 B Corp Champions Retreat

by Karen Lickteig, Communications Chair for B Local PDX

The North American Certified B Corp Community gathered from September 25-27 for the 2018 B Corp Champions Retreat: Building the B Economy in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was an inspiring couple of days learning about the “B Economy.” We are all involved in creating a more inclusive B Economy, which is built by everyone who works for, buys from, invests in, learns or teaches about, or supports businesses striving to create a shared and durable prosperity for all. It is comprised of Certified B Corps, Benefit Corporations, social enterprises, and other types of businesses united around a principle of using business as a force for good. The Champions Retreat was a great reminder that while our movement has incredible momentum, we also have a lot of work to do.

B Local PDX at The Champions Retreat

Around 40 people from our B Local PDX community area attended, including nearly our entire Board. We brought our expertise as well, with several of our local business leaders giving talks and sitting on panels. These sessions included:

  • “Immigration from the Inside Out” with the leaders of the US: Immigration Stories book project, Mike Mercer of MMercer Consulting & Kelsey Moody of The Joinery

  • David Kahl of Fully spoke on Emotional Intelligence

  • Keith Scott of A to Z Wineworks spoke on the forthcoming Vote Every Day. Vote B Corp. marketing campaign

Our B Local PDX Board gathered a day before the main conference for the B Local Communities Summit, an opportunity for leaders in local B Corp communities to get together to learn, share best practices, and plan together for the future and growth of this movement. One of the main takeaways we had as a B Local Board came from a strong focus on an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion session held by Vanice Dunn, Director of Partnerships and Equity at Provoc. We had deep and emotional discussions about EDI in our community and plan to set goals around this theme for the coming year.

A huge congratulations is in order for Cameron Madill of PixelSpoke, Chair of B Local PDX. Cameron was honored by B Lab for his tireless work with B Local Communities, which support, connect, and build energy around Certified B Corps in their regions.

Reflections from our B Local PDX Community on The B Corp Champions Retreat

Kelsey Moody, Commercial Sales Manager at The Joinery

I was already in love with the B Corp movement before coming to the Champions Retreat and thought I had a good understanding of the impact this community is having on the future of business. The experience I had over the few days we spent in New Orleans broadened my perspective on the capabilities of this movement and opened my eyes to the power we have as a community to actually drive change across the world. The B Corp community has found a way to use the existing system against itself and promote the idea of “Business as a force for good.” In a time where it feels like there is more and more divisiveness brewing across our society, these opportunities for connection feel even more necessary and meaningful. I left with a reinvigorated drive and passion to do all that I can to contribute to this movement. It feels amazing to be part of a community with a commitment to create an inclusive economy.

David Kahl, Founder & CEO of Fully

It feels so inspiring to be amongst people who are dedicating their careers to making a difference.  Though the program content was really thoughtful and relevant, the random, unplanned conversations that I had with other attendees was the sweetest part.

Rose Lavelle, Sustainability Director for Scout Books

The Champions Retreat was a great reminder about the impact of what we do. The organization of the conference and breakout sessions were designed to remind us that change starts with individuals, moves through the way we do business in our companies, how we interact in our local communities and then eventually to the global level. Though all parts of the retreat were impressive, it all came together on the third day. I felt emotional and truly touched by the whole experience. Not only was the event really fulfilling, it was awesome to visit New Orleans! It seemed to be a city rich with culture and there was always something to do.... or eat! In Portland, we have a strong B Local community which isn't always present in other cities and regions. I appreciate the individuals, businesses, events, partnerships and more that make B Local PDX happen!

Karen Lickteig, Marketing Director for Nossa Familia Coffee

This was my first-ever Champions Retreat, and I feel truly privileged to have had this uplifting, energizing, and also deeply emotional experience. The most powerful part of the conference for me was the final two sessions of the whole conference, where we heard from two of the three founders of B Lab and the B Corp movement. It was a time where these two white males laid bare their recognition of their own privilege and responsibilities as leaders of a movement that has already grown beyond their wildest dreams. It has been a wild time of momentum for our movement, and also a time for deep reflection and introspection about leadership and inclusivity within it. The leaders’ stress was clear over the results of a recent internal B Lab staff survey, where 57% of B Lab staff who are people of color feel they can bring their whole selves to work, compared with 96% of their white coworkers. I highly recommend reading Jay Coen Gilbert’s reflection on this survey in Forbes, and what he plans to do as someone who has been complicit in institutional bias. In summary, they plan to do more listening, learning, and leading by elevating others whose voices may go traditionally less-heard. They are already taking concrete steps to dismantle the institutional bias within B Lab as an organization, but it’s just the beginning of a long and arduous journey.