Small Companies, Big Hearts: Leading Social Entrepreneurs
A list released today by a Pennsylvania nonprofit ranks small socially-conscious companies. Berwyn, Pa.-based B Lab created a free, online assessment tool to help businesses track their progress in creating positive impact and based the ranking on its results. B Lab certifies companies as benefit corporations, known as B corporations, a type of company created for the general benefit for society as well as for shareholders.
Those companies who have gone through the process say the certification, while moderately time consuming, gives them credibility with their customers and helps attract talented employees.
Here are companies with between 10 and 49 employees that scored in the top 10 percent on the B Corporation assessment.
What it does: Provides job training for specialized areas of the healthcare field.
Highlights: It has helped laid-off workers, welfare recipients, veterans and disadvantaged minorities secure long-term jobs. Telecommuting and flex-time work schedules are permitted and the company chooses to work with local, sustainable, or fair trade suppliers.
What it does: Designs and installs solar-energy systems for health-care centers, schools, hotels and fishing villages.
Highlights: Donates renewable electricity to schools, hospitals and clinics to the Columbian community and ensures that suppliers are up to high ethical standards.
What it does: Wealth management firm specializing in sustainable investing.
Highlights: Uses other B Corporation-certified companies for office supplies, provides employees more than 20 paid hours off to perform community service, and purchases carbon credits to offset more than half of its greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Delight Co.Based in: Seoul, South Korea
What it does: Makes and distributes affordable hearing aid devices.
Highlights: Workers are offers subsidized meals, transportation, and housing. Also, employees have access to tuition reimbursement and skills-training both inside and outside the business.
What it does: Family-run company makes natural lotions and balms.
Highlights: Employees receive free organic lunches and are eligible for more than six weeks of paid maternity leave. Badger works with a local, community bank for its financial matters and donates more than ten percent of its profits to charity. Lunchtime badminton games help keep employee morale boosted, too.
What it does: Educates the public on environmental issues and aims to inspire individuals to take action with its print and online publications.
Highlights: One-quarter owned by employees and 100 percent of employees are actively engaged in external professional development.
What it does: Sustainable architecture consulting.
Highlights: Reimburses 100 percent of employee continuing-education costs. More than 75 percent of office supplies come from recycled materials and employees are rewarded for using public transportation or a car share program.
What it does: Manufactures and sells all-natural construction elements to builders, design professionals, furniture-builders and individuals under the Bark House brand.
Highlights: Three-quarters of the office materials used by Highland Craftsmen are recycled and 25 percent of the energy used is renewable. Also, three out of ten employees live in low-income communities.
What it does: Healthcare management and technology consulting.
Highlights: One of the original, founding class of B Corporations certified in 2007. Donates 100 percent of its profits to local, healthcare-related charities. More than three-quarters of the staff received paid time off to perform community-service last year.
10. Juhudi KilimoBased in: Nairobi, Kenya
What it does: Provides asset financing to small rural farmers in some of the poorest sections of the country so that farmers can gain access to dairy cows, poultry and greenhouses.
Highlights: Monitors air quality, uses energy-saving practices, and has installed water-efficiency systems in its buildings.
What it does: Helps nonprofits and philanthropic foundations identify growth strategies.
Highlights: Pays for more than 80 percent of the health insurance premiums for its employees and their families. Also, employees get more than 30 paid days off each year.
What it does: Academic mentoring program for students of color in the state.
Highlights: Employees are offered paid time off to complete community service and flexible work schedules are accommodated.
13. QuetsolBased in: Guatemala City, Guatemala
What it does: Gets solar power to rural, poor communities that are not reached by the electric grid.
Highlights: Noted for its work within the industry to advocate for better adherence to social and environmental standards. Also, Quetsol employees have visited all of the company’s major suppliers to confirm operations meet its high standards.
What it does: Manages over $1 billion in assets and exclusively deals in sustainable and responsible investments.
Highlights: Offsets more than half of its carbon footprint each year by buying carbon credits. Also, Trillium donates more than 5 percent of its profits to charity.
What do you do to give back to your employees, community or the environment? Leave a note below to let us know.
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.