Women’s History Month is upon us, dedicated to recognizing and honoring some of the most influential women and girls. We will undoubtedly see media highlights of female trailblazers from the past and present while businesses highlight the accomplishments of their female employees and fierce executive leaders.
But it’s also B Corp Month, recognizing businesses that are audited for their impact on all stakeholders, not just profitability. So make room for another worthy mention: women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs who pursue social and environmental impact, alongside profit.
According to a recent study published by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, in 2021, women’s Total Early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) rate was 15.2% in the United States, up from 13.6% in 2020. Motivating many of these women entrepreneurs was the desire to make a difference – a staggering 70.5% of those surveyed.
One such company, FoundHer, aims to combat the discrimination that mothers often face when returning to the workforce after a career break. As an entrepreneurial women-owned recruiting firm, FoundHer serves this mission by placing women and mothers with corporate clients who value flexibility and implement fair pay practices.
“When clients come to us, we have already skipped the threshold of having to explain career breaks on behalf of our candidates,” explains Runa Knapp, Co-FoundHer and Chief Business Development Officer. “We won’t always say ‘yes’ to taking on a client. It’s important for us to understand a client’s policies around supporting women through parental leave, promoting women internally, hiring women for executive level positions, and implementing policies around flexibility and equal pay.”
Recently FoundHer achieved its B Corp Certification, a private certification issued by B Lab to for-profit companies based on their “social and environmental performance.” The movement around corporations and entrepreneurs who are using business as a force for good has grown over the years and according to B Lab statistics of self-reported data, approximately 40% of US based B Corps are currently operated and run by women.
Another recent addition to the B Corp roster is The Produce Moms®, an influencer brand with a mission to get more fruits and vegetables on every table. The Produce Moms® leverages its content platform and brand partnerships to educate consumers on the benefits of eating fresh produce, the growing process, and how to select, store and serve fresh food.
“I felt strongly that this concept of educating people online about fruits and vegetables could do amazing things and make a difference not just for household moms like myself, but for every stakeholder in the supply chain,” explains Lori Taylor, CEO and Founder of The Produce Moms®.
The company’s clients include farmers who engage with Taylor’s team for content marketing and ambassadorship over the course of a harvest season or a calendar year. Clients are evaluated on criteria such as: payment of fair labor wages, practices around protecting the environment and implementing sustainable practices, amongst others. But just as important as the selection of the suppliers and the produce they produce, is the messaging to consumers.
“The world of influencer marketing is not typically rooted in values: it’s rooted in metrics, money, and in making people’s faces famous. Studies show that up to 90% of people feel worse about themselves after scrolling through social media and being exposed to influencer marketing content, and we are trying to change that.” Taylor adds.
An early adopter of integrating purpose with profit, The Tea Spot was one of the first companies to become B Corp certified in Colorado in 2011. As the leading tea brand for healthy hydration, founder and CEO Maria Uspenski created the company’s model of social entrepreneurship by incorporating its mission to foster health and wellness through loose leaf tea with its 10% for Wellness program. Ten percent of all profits are donated in-kind to cancer survivors and community wellness programs.
“We insist on the highest standards of food safety and quality from all of our sources and vendors. And, as a Colorado-based Public Benefit Corporation and certified B Corp, our company donates 10% of all profits for wellness,” said Uspenski. “To date, The Tea Spot’s program has donated more than 1 million cups of tea and $100,000 through our 10% for Wellness pledge. One of the things I love most about our commitment is that it is so inspiring for our employees.”
FoundHer follows a similar sentiment to The Produce Moms® and The Tea Spot when evaluating their own “supply-chain.”
Knapp adds, “We hold ourselves to the same standards we look for in our clients. As a purpose-driven business, we seek out diverse and/or women-owned small businesses for our own vendor needs such as legal, marketing, PR, etc. Just as we hope prospective clients will see our value-add, we are mindful of providing the same opportunities to others like ourselves.”
By building loyalty within the supply chain, Knapp, Taylor and Uspenski have seen increases in profits, repeat clients, and meaningful engagement at events and on social media, resulting in real impact.
“At The Tea Spot, we define success in our business as a function of the breadth of our impact in promoting wellness through tea. Being a top tier B Corp “Best For The World – Community” honoree, we’re inspired to extend this reach to many more millions of people around the globe,” concludes Uspenski.
With women leading the charge, there will no doubt be countless other businesses sprouting up to continue fueling the force for good.