B-ing the Change

February is B-Corp month, a time to recognize those for-profit businesses using the power of the marketplace to help solve social and environmental problems. I am proud that my company is one of more than 2,400 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and over 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business. But while we share a certification and a goal, the inspiration that led us to “B-ing the Change” is as individual as we are. Here is my story.

As a kid, I loved playing baseball, I played all the time with the neighborhood kids. When I became the age eligible to play little league, I registered just like my friends. The only difference was that I was a girl and my friends were all boys. It was 1973, the year after Title IX passed which required educational institutions to provide equal access to any educational program or activity receiving federal funds. It was most visibly enforced in the area of athletics. Although my local little league wasn’t an educational institution, when I wasn’t selected for a team, my mom and I reminded the league president of this historic piece of legislation. Three weeks after the season started, I was placed on a team. I was the first girl to play “Boy’s Baseball” in my hometown. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the beginning of several “firsts” in my career of being a changemaker.

In college, I took a course on revolutions taught through the lens of movies. We watched several movies including Battleship Potemkin (1925), Gallipoli (1981) and Gandhi (1982). It was 1985 and Gandhi’s commitment to nonviolent protest in South Africa continued to remain relevant 70 years later, as the world was still grappling with apartheid.  Gandhi’s legacy quote, “you must be the change you want to see in the world” has been a guiding inspiration for me since college.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Over the past 25 years, I have tried to walk the path of being the change I want to see in the world, sometimes quietly and sometimes more loudly.  

Mary Stelletello, Vista Leadership Academy Retreat, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Becoming a Certified B Corp

When I founded Vista Global Coaching & Consulting, my vision was to create a company that demonstrated my values of being the change I wanted to see in the world.  In 2012, I certified as a B Corp, a rigorous certification that measures the “triple bottom line” – social, environmental and economic impact. This was a somewhat quiet way of being that change.  My company was the first certified B Corp in the state of Wisconsin.

I have quietly been a “B” since 2012, doing my bi-annual recertification and procuring vendors that are also Bs. The Wisconsin certified B Corp movement has grown very slowly, 3 companies until 2014, then 6 in 2017.  Momentum was building and it was time to “be the change” more loudly. In October, 2017, I attended the B Lab Champions Retreat in Toronto.  I connected with more “Arc Benders” across the world, a reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s belief that, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We have to be the ones to bend it.  I was asked to share my story for We Are the Arc Benders

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

B Local Wisconsin

In November 2017, I was compelled with another changemaker, Mark Starik to convene the first meeting of the B Local Wisconsin group, gathering all the certified B Corps and B Allies that were committed to business being a force for good. We had 10 people at this first meeting and the group has grown with each subsequent meeting.  B Local Wisconsin is voluntary collaboration of nonprofits, sustainable businesses, certified B Corps, Benefit Corporations and individuals to advance the vision of a new economy, using business as a force for good, benefiting society and the environment.

Benefit Corporation Legislation

Momentum continues to grow as Wisconsin becomes the 34th state to pass legislation that allows businesses to become chartered for-profit entities that are committed to benefiting society and the environment.  To celebrate the effective date of this historic legislation, B Local Wisconsin is hosting a reception on February 26, 2018 from 5-7pm in Madison, WI.  Legislation cosponsors and legal experts will share the value of the benefit corporation legislation for the Wisconsin community.  Many certified B Corps will be in attendance to share their path as changemakers and Arc Benders.  

There is really no turning back to quietly “being the change I want to see in the world”. If you are in Wisconsin, please join me on February 26th to learn more about connecting to this movement. If you are outside of Wisconsin, and you are inspired to connect with other Arc Benders and changemakers, contact me and I will introduce you to a B Corp community nearby.  It’s global, it’s local and it is bending history.