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Dialing in on Impact: Three B Corps that Listen to Learn

An inside look at how three B Corps are using 60 Decibels impact data to better understand their customers, measure their social impact and inform future business decisions.

While the world presents new societal challenges for the private sector to confront, so do the ways in which businesses can get more proximate to the communities they aim to serve. B Lab, the non-profit behind B Corp Certification recognizes this. “As the climate crisis intensifies and societal inequality grows, the need to bring about systemic change is clear. We must advance the standards for B Corp Certification to meet the magnitude of the challenge ahead.” One of the heaviest areas of emphasis in these new standards is stakeholder engagement including worker surveys.

Certified B Corps are for-profit companies redefining the purpose of the corporation. They are required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. There are more than 8,000 B Corps, who represent over half a million workers across more than a hundred industries worldwide. 

60 Decibels is proud to have worked with nearly 20 Certified B Corps worldwide to help them better understand the lived experiences of their workers and customers – by focusing on outcomes, rather than outputs. This can include aspects such as whether employees experience a safe or an exploitative working environment, or how a product impacts the quality of life of the people using it.

We spoke to leaders from three Certified B Corps who have gone beyond the B Impact Assessment to seek evidence of the impact they are having on the communities they serve. 

How three B Corps are using 60dB impact data

  • Southern Bancorp

    Southern Bancorp focuses on providing a mix of traditional lending services and financial development tools to underserved communities. The company has taken steps to build upon its impact measurement required by the B Corp certification. Will Lambe, the Chief Strategy Officer, explained that their work with 60 Decibels is “part of an ongoing, real-time assessment of how we’re meeting our customers’ needs.” He emphasized that this deep dive into their customer base helps provide context to other gathered data and shapes their strategies for helping people meet their goals. Nathan Pittman, their Chief Brand Officer, added, “This data is becoming a key component of how we measure our mission focus of helping customers along their journey toward economic mobility and opportunity, which is something you can’t measure solely by accounts opened. 60dB provides us that deeper level of measurement and understanding as an organization to enhance both mission and strategy.”

    Southern Bancorp’s B Corp certification has supported its mission by aligning it with like-minded businesses and leveraging the B Corp network for partnerships and earned media opportunities. Using data from 60 Decibels, Southern Bancorp can better illustrate the impact of its service on lenders and engage various departments in understanding and addressing customer needs. This comprehensive approach has allowed them to refine their strategies and improve customer engagement, a key pillar of B Corp’s certification.

  • Counter Culture Coffee

    Counter Culture Coffee is a leading responsible Certified B Corp coffee roaster in the U.S. They partnered with their coffee bean supplier, Mountain Harvest, to have 60 Decibels conduct a survey of their farmers’ wellbeing, climate resilience, food security, and outlook on farming. “Counter Culture believes in the sustainability of sourcing quality coffee at premium prices from the same farmers annually, which enhances the livelihoods of coffee producers. To gain deeper insights into this impact, we partnered with 60 Decibels for evaluation,” their Coffee Manager Katie Carguilo shared.

    The survey, which included responses from over 200 farmers, provided critical feedback on various aspects of their lives and work. For instance, only 29% of farmers reported planting shade trees, highlighting an area for increased educational outreach by Mountain Harvest. Additionally, the survey revealed that 55% of farmers plan to invest in fertilizers, prompting Mountain Harvest to ensure the availability of organic inputs and educate farmers on their proper use. This aligns with the strong market demand for organically grown coffee. A majority of the farmers (71%) are accessing extension services – which signals strong adoption, that they are working, and they should be further prioritized. Despite reported unprofitability among some farmers (52%) in the past year, an overwhelming majority (99%) express their intention to continue coffee farming and further invest in their farms (90%). This resilience underscores a commitment to progress and growth within the industry and signals good things about the coffee sector in Uganda and Mountain Harvest’s farmers.

    Kenneth Barigye, Managing Director of Mountain Harvest, emphasized the actionable insights gained: “The survey will inform Mountain Harvest’s education and outreach strategy of agricultural practices. Since only 29% of farmers mentioned planting shade trees, we will double down on efforts to promote this practice for the well-being of coffee plants, biodiversity, and soil health. Furthermore, the survey showed a desire for extension services such as weather updates and credit access, which Mountain Harvest will explore expanding.”

    Explore the Farmer Thriving Index.

  • Payactiv

    Payactiv, a Certified B Corp since 2015, is on a mission to improve financial lives, every day, every year because physical and mental health are deeply influenced by daily stresses. And no stress is greater than financial stress. According to Safwan Shah, founder and CEO, the company “didn’t start in a strategy session of businessmen but rather from a deep understanding of the challenges faced by people living paycheck to paycheck.” Payactiv is a leading provider of Earned Wage Access (EWA) service that helps employees manage day-to-day finances and bills without taking out loans. The company makes it easy to access, plan, spend, and save with dignity, while building financial security and savings. After all, access should be a human right. The Earned Wage Access as a benefit is growing quickly in the United States as ⅔ Americans live paycheck to paycheck. “Earned Wage Access is not created equal” acknowledged Shah and so simply put, they came to 60 Decibels curious: “are we on the right track or not?”

    In February 2023, 60 Decibels was brought on to give Payactiv an in-depth understanding of their customers, their profile, the outcomes they experience by accessing EWA, and how the company can improve its impact and business performance. 60 Decibels interviewed 1,606 customers. A vast majority (74%) said not having access to Payactiv would have a negative effect on their household and their ability to manage their finances has improved as a result (71%). Additionally, their satisfaction with their employers has improved as a result of the service provided by Payactiv (64%). “If I did not have access to Payactiv, I’d probably be losing money with overdraft fees” Texas Payactiv User, age 44. Of the 78% of customers negatively impacted by inflation, 75% say Payactiv has helped them cope with the effects. 

    With the results, Shah shares how they operationalize them: “60dB helped us organize our thoughts and initiate forward looking and helpful conversations. More than manage, 60dB helped us articulate our impact in understandable ways.” With a network of 5,000 business customers, they need to convince them of the impact EWA has on the employer and the employee. Shah emphasized the need for credible data. “I can’t convince businesses without data. You might fool individuals with marketing. But selling to businesses is like selling to parents. They won’t give their kid a product that is bad. It’s objective decision-making and that requires compelling data. We learned the businesses were interested in the measured effect, not the psychological effect. We know people enjoy getting the money they earn at the time they want. The real outcome we seek is dignity for the human experiencing this situation.”

    Shah is proud Payactiv became a B Corp so early on, crediting the certification for helping affirm the impact they are having. “B Corp Certification provides us with the guideposts to stay on track. We went through the process to codify what we stood for and at a high level, the certification is akin to a declaration that we care for our users, and our business has a purpose.” He went on to draw the connection: “60 Decibels helps you become a better B Corp. B Corp Certification is a self-evaluation. You measure yourself. 60 Decibels is rather what users say about your service, and about you. Without measurement, impact is just a feel-good idea.” Finally, he shared: “We came into business with the heartbeat of those we serve. Listening leads to understanding and that builds empathy, which leads to curiosity and innovation. Listening is the beginning of all great ideas.”

    Explore Payactivs full 60 Decibels impact measurement results here.

“I am always inspired by the trailblazing spirit of Certified B Corps worldwide. As part of a community of over 8,000 B Corps globally and counting, these companies are rewriting the playbook on corporate success by putting people and the planet alongside profit. They’re not just redefining what’s possible but proving it daily. Companies like 60 Decibels help B Corps and others measure and amplify their impact, demonstrating that business can and should be a force for good.”

Jodi Beasley, Senior Director of Community, B Lab U.S. & Canada

The stories shared by these B Corps underscore the immense potential for organizations to drive positive change as well as business growth when they truly listen to and learn from their stakeholders. By proactively seeking to understand the lived experiences of their workers, customers, and communities through 60 Decibels, these companies are setting a powerful example for others to follow.

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