Something mighty special happened at PaperCut recently. We became a B Corp certified workplace. We’re joining 7,908 (and counting) workplaces worldwide that are (to quote the B Corporation website) “… committed to high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency”.
So what does it mean? Who does it help? First, let’s go back in time and explore why PaperCut has gone through this certification.
Important moment in time: 1
25 years ago, our co-founder Chris Dance threw a hissy fit in his sysadmin role at a local high school. He resented the fact that every day he would have to empty the recycling bins beside the school’s printers. Students and teachers would print out documents and never pick them up. Or print multiple copies by mistake and leave the extra in the printer trays. So, he wrote some code, created a company, and started saving paper.
Important moment in time: 2
Fast forward to around 2017 and a bunch of likeminded PaperCutters got together to form the PaperCut Environmental Guild. The guild was looking for ways to minimise the environmental impact of the company across all levels of business. There were successes (recycling programs) and failures (early attempts to become carbon neutral) along the way but always there was a passion to do better for the planet than we were.
Important moment in time: 3
Then things got serious when a handful of folks proposed becoming a B Corp in 2022. It’s important to note this wasn’t a leadership team initiative. Rather, it was a gang of PaperCutters from different parts of the business coming together to push for change. And today we stand among almost 8,000 other workplaces as proud members of the B Corp ecosystem.
All the decisions that led to certification came from our co-founder’s original challenge to himself: “How can I make a positive impact here?”
So who does B Corp certification help?
Perhaps workplaces can achieve what governments cannot. If enough of these entities put enough effort into their ESG approach to business, perhaps positive change can occur without the need for legislation or worse. After all, international corporations can influence across country borders.
Our certification doesn’t sell more PaperCut licences, but it does sell hope. If our funny wee software company at the bottom of the world with its geeky co-founders can travel this path towards contributing more carefully to the world, perhaps any workplace can.
Not by becoming B Corp certified necessarily, there are loads of other programs you can dip your toes into before going down that path (we spent around 18 months on our certification).
Getting started on your own B Corp journey
So how do you get started? Find a group within your workplace that has the energy and passion to make it happen. At PaperCut, we had folks from all different parts of the business (and the world) come together - Julie Gefroh, Meg Drew, Jess Graves, Jeremy Davey, Sarah Cheah, and Liz Morris in particular brought B Corp to PaperCut. They had leadership support, but it was this group’s drive that made the magic. Find your people and let them drive the change in your workplace.
We sometimes feel impotent as individuals when we wish for change: “What can I do? I’m only one person?” Perhaps your voice, your vote, will feel more powerful when it’s part of a team. Your workplace. Your university. Your law firm. Your medical center. Making decisions for the planet as a team about the way we work and live.