Category

Business

Getaways for Good: These B Corps Help Travelers Build a Better World on Their Journeys

By | Business | No Comments
B The Change
B The Change

Dec 11, 2019 · 4 min read

If you’re looking to give a gift that stands apart or planning next year’s vacation, consider Certified B Corporations that offer getaway experiences. Whether your travel plans include a volunteer-oriented vacation, a family ski trip, or a once-in-a-lifetime international journey, the B Corps in the list below stand ready to help you visit your dream destination while doing business with companies that match your values and allow you to vote every day as you escape the everyday.

And who says travel has to be one-dimensional? Through these B Corps’ programming, facilities and sustainable practices, they provide travel experiences that allow you to make memories and help build a better world at the same time.


Life-Changing Experiences with Wildlife

Animal Experience International

Animal Experience International (AEI) empowers animal lovers, students, professionals, and adventure seekers to travel and build a better world by volunteering with animals. Founded by a wildlife veterinarian and a volunteer coordinator for wildlife rehabilitation centers, the B Corp offers safe and ethical travel experiences that allow travelers to do what they enjoy and make a difference. From sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica to wildlife rehabilitation in Australia to elephant rescue in Thailand — and plenty of other options around the world — AEI experiences are designed to match clients with animal-related volunteer opportunities. Based in Barrie, Ontario, AEI has been a B Corp since 2013.

Less Stuff, More Experiences

Modern Adventure

This newly certified B Corp offers travel experiences designed to provide moments of discovery and exploration — as noted in its manifesto: “We invest in experiences, instead of more stuff.” Based in Portland, Oregon, Modern Adventure partners with brands and “tastemakers,” including chefs, fitness trainers, art gallery owners and other creative specialists, who accompany travelers for these once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Global travel options that cover Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas are created to enhance the positive differences that travel can make while minimizing its negative effects.

Destinations Fit for Families

Legacy Vacation Resorts

Families looking to make memories together on the road can turn to Legacy Vacation Resorts, an Orlando, Florida-based B Corp that provides sustainable, affordable and memorable vacation experiences. With destinations in four U.S. regions — from Florida’s East to West Coasts, the Colorado Rockies, the New Jersey shore, and Reno, Nevada — Legacy Vacation Resorts offers getaways in a range of climates and terrains. Its workers are a vital part of the experience, and their role in designing memorable vacations shows how Legacy Vacation Resorts values its employees so they in turn take care of travelers. While using its business as a force for good, Legacy Vacation Resorts aims to lead by example in the hospitality industry through conscious practices including carbon footprint offsetting, waste reduction and enhanced recycling efforts, and a living wage initiative for employees.

Traveling in (Personal) Style

Intrepid Group

Intrepid Group was founded to create a style of travel that could benefit travellers as well as the places and people they visit. With three tour operator brands, more than 25 destination management companies, and a not-for-profit foundation, the Melbourne, Australia-based B Corp has a history of leadership in sustainability, from incorporating carbon-neutral trips to stopping elephant rides. This year Intrepid Group made several updates to address overtourism, including changing itineraries in Vietnam and Sri Lanka in response to crowding pressures, replacing flights on Iran trips with overnight and day trains, and removing single-use plastics from adventure cruises.

Learn more about travel-related B Corps on B the Change:


B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.

INSIGHT Catalyze 2020: Jared Meyers

By | Business, Community | No Comments

This holiday season, we asked some of St. Pete’s best and brightest citizens to share one catalyzing idea for making St. Pete a better place to live. We asked not for lists of problems, but for meaty, actionable and impactful solutions, no matter how big or how small. Here’s the response from Jared Meyers, chairman, Salt Palm Development, and founder, Florida for Good.

In order to become an even better place to live than it already is, St. Pete needs its businesses to operate in a way that helps the city achieve its goals­ – and my thought is that these goals should align with the worldwide goals set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. St. Pete is more advanced and aligned than other U.S. cities, but it has yet to unleash the potential power of its businesses and citizens. It needs full and credible alignment, which can happen through a mix of policies, incentives and regulations. When a business succeeds, St. Pete must also succeed and not have a situation where the community gets stuck with the externalities of business– for example, if a business’s activities could cause red tide or sea level rise, and yet not contribute to the associated costs. 
 
A trusted framework is needed for this alignment and the best frameworks that exist are those from nonprofit B Lab, in their Business Impact Assessment and the Sustainable Development Goals (“SDG”) Action Manager.  The SDG Action Manager is a brand new tool created in partnership with the UN Global Compact and it is free, easy to use and confidential.
 
Undertaking these efforts will result in the city retaining its uniqueness, while also enhancing its way of life through reduced inequality, alleviating poverty, restoring a healthier environment, building stronger communities and creating more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. I truly think that St. Pete can be the guiding light for Florida and our nation, inspiring other communities to undertake efforts to improve a shared prosperity for all residents and local environments.
 
Currently, the city relies on the STAR Communities Certification for “evaluating local sustainability, encompassing economic, environmental and social performance measures.” This organizes seven thematic goal areas being Natural Systems, Health & Safety, Education, Arts & Community, Economy & Jobs, Equity & Empowerment, Built Environment, and Climate and Energy. At this time, St. Pete is a 3 STAR community and it desires to be a 5 STAR. If business does its part to contribute to the betterment of the community, I feel St. Pete will get there.

St. Pete real estate developer pumps profit back into the community

By | Business, Community | No Comments

The Royal groundbreaking

Salt Palm Development will use half of its profit on its latest real estate project to benefit the St. Petersburg community.

Mayor Rick Kriseman and Jared Meyers, chairman, Salt Palm Development, at the groundbreaking for The Royal

Jared Meyers, chairman of Salt Palm, made the pledge at the groundbreaking for The Royal, a 13-unit townhome development at 545 4th Ave. S, just south of downtown and on the edge of the Innovation District. The project is across the street from Salt Palm’s initial project, Sabal Smart Homes, where profits also were reinvested in the community, Meyers said.

Salt Palm is a certified B-Corp, a type of for-profit business that balances purpose and profit.

“B-Corps are all about giving back to the community, taking  a portion or in some cases all of their profits and investing them back into the community,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman at the groundbreaking. “Philosophically, they are aligned with what we’re trying to accomplish here in St. Pete.”

A rendering of The Royal

The Royal, with prices starting in the $500s, will be built with sustainable living in mind, with features such as LED lightning, energy star appliances, water efficiencies and others.

It also will be solar ready. The company has committed to be net zero by 2030, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

Salt Palm is tapping into the “positive energy” in St. Petersburg, Meyers said. “Downtown St. Pete is unique and special. I felt that when I came here and wanted to be part of it and elevate it,” Meyers said.

There are only 23 B-Corps in Florida, and Salt Palm is the only one that is a real estate development firm.

“It’s a certification that companies receive that says you perform at the highest levels of social and environmental responsibility. It’s a hard certification to attain and that’s why there’s only 3,000 of them worldwide, half in the U.S.,” Meyers said. “I view this to be the type of business model that is best for any community. At the end of the day, communities need businesses that are there to lift the community up to the best of their abilities.”

Salt Palm has a formal commitment to use at least half its profits for the betterment of  St. Petersburg and Florida. The company also has committed 1 percent of its revenue to environmental causes In September, Salt Palm was named a “Best For The World” honoree, a recognition from B Lab, the global nonprofit that certifies and supports certified B Corporations.

Meyers also has launched St. Pete For Good and Florida For Good.

“Businesses are coming together to say we want to do good, we’re responsible, we would like your help to improve on that and we provide free resources for them to get there,” Meyers said. “Whether they become a certified B-Corp at the end of it, or they just improve along the way, that’s fine. We just want you to contribute more to your community, take care of your employees, be more inclusive, and focus on regenerative thoughts processes, not exploitative ones.”

St. Pete For Good, with about 50 businesses in its directory, has inspired other “for good” organizations in central and northeast Florida and Boca Raton, as well as a similar group in Miami, Meyers said. The statewide Florida For Good has about 150 businesses.

The Royal one of two new structures going up in the area. TRB Development is building a new headquarters for insurance technology company Neptune Flood across the street at 400 6th St. S.

Trevor Burgess, CEO, Neptune Flood

Neptune will have about 20 employees on the second level of the building. The ground level will house Lingr, an upscale casual eatery and bar developed by Jeffrey Jew, an alumnus of Bravo’s Top Chef.

“What we’re excited about is this entire part of St. Petersburg is getting the investment Jared is making, that we’re making, to help create this urban, walkable, livable, workable environment, where all of those elements can happen together in one place,” said Trevor Burgess, CEO of Neptune Flood and chairman of TRB.

Neptune fits St. Petersburg’s Grow Smarter economic strategy, which focuses on high-growth businesses. It’s the second business here for Burgess, who was president and CEO of C1 Bank before it sold to Bank OZK.

“Trevor has always been incredibly involved in the community, and so to have him back here with another business, employing people, paying a living wage, that’s a great thing,” Kriseman said.

This isn’t just your everyday luxury townhome development

By | Business, Community | No Comments
Published 1 hour ago

ST. PETERSBURG — Townhomes are popping up all over the Tampa Bay area but the 13-unit Royal in St. Petersburg has an unusual distinction. It’s being developed by one of Florida’s few Certified B Corporations — companies that meet high standards for “social and environmental performance.”

St. Petersburg-based Salt Palm Development recently broke ground for the Royal at 545 Fourth Avenue S. near another townhome project, Sabal Smart Homes, that it recently completed. Like Sabal, the Royal will include eco-friendly features like LED lighting, reflective roof materials and drought-tolerant landscaping.

Jared M. Meyers is chairman of Salt Palm and Orlando-based Legacy Vacation Resorts, another Certified B Corporation. Both received their certifications from B Lab, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit with offices around the world. Meyers spoke with the Tampa Bay Times about Certified B Corporations and why he hopes to see more of them in Florida. The interview was edited for length and clarity.

What distinguishes this type of certification from something that says, for example, “this milk has been certified as organic.”

Other certifications apply to a certain product but you don’t know much about the company behind it. This is the only one that spans the entire business, not just a specific product. It says the entire company performs at a certain level so it enhances the trust level when you interact with it whether as an employee, a customer or an investor.

Where and how many Certified B Corporations are there?

They’re in 150 industries in over 70 countries. There are a little over 3,000 (corporations), about half in North America. Some of the companies are Ben & Jerry’s, TOMS shoes, Danone yogurt, Eileen Fisher (women’s clothing). In Florida, we have 23. Salt Palm is the only one in St. Pete but last month we picked up two in Tampa—a video production company called Diamond View and a software company called Harness. There’s a bigger concentration in South Florida.

What’s the process for getting certified?

There is an assessment every company must take, and you don’t just take it, (B Lab) does onsite audits and every three years after you have to be re-certified. There are five components— (corporate) governance, employees, environment, community and customers. With employees, they look at the ratio of highest to lowest paid, benefit packages, what sort of policies do you have in place re inclusion and diversity. B Lab will say, ‘Do you pay a living wage?’ At Salt Palm we don’t have many direct employees, it’s a lot of subcontractors, whereas my resort company has hundreds and we guarantee a living wage. In Orange County, it’s $12.70 an hour. (Florida’s minimum wage is $8.46.)

Does your board have any minority members?

(Laughs) The board is my wife and I, so no. What’s really cool about a B Corporation assessment is that as you take it, you become educated along the way and realize all the things you’re not doing. We’re constantly improving what we do. As proud as I am to be a Certified B Corporation, we’re not perfect, there are things we could be doing better.

What is the “community” aspect of certification?

That governs volunteerism, paid off time to volunteer, how many company-sponsored projects there are, what you give in the way of donations. For Salt Palm, for example, we have a public commitment to invest at least 50 percent of our profits into the city or the Florida for Good movement (encouraging businesses to become Certified B Corporations). We sponsored the SHINE Mural Festival, we’ve worked with the mayor’s efforts to beautify the city, We launched an initiative called HIVE – St. Pete, where we partner with nonprofits to educate the public about, say, water quality, and do local projects.

This all sounds great but presumably for-profit companies hope to get something out of B Corporation certification besides good will?

There are no tax breaks, no direct financial incentives. My personal reason to go in this direction is that I want to set an example to show other businesses that you can run a successful business with these practices. I want to create a new social norm. The Typical B Corporation becomes one because it aligns with their values and they use that to attract higher talent employees. Seventy percent of employees feel disengaged from the company they work for. If you can make them engaged and excited it changes everything. Some companies also use this to attract better financing.

And what is the “customer” aspect of a B Corporation certification?

We know the younger generation wants to know how their dollars are being used. We are very proactive in saying, ‘When you spend money with us, I’m not buying five new Feraris.’ We make sure we offset our carbon emissions. We will put money back into the community. The more we can lean into that, the more we will attract customers.

Rubio Names Mother Kombucha as the Senate Small Business of the Week

By | Business | No Comments
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, named Mother Kombucha of St. Petersburg, Florida as the U.S. Senate Small Business of the Week. Senator Rubio visited Mother Kombucha in St. Petersburg last week.

Rubio released the following video message to congratulate Mother Kombucha as the Small Business of the Week. A broadcast quality version can be found here.

“As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, it is my pleasure to honor Mother Kombucha of St. Petersburg, Florida as the Senate Small Business of the Week.

“In 2014, Tonya Donati became the first licensed kombucha brewer in the state of Florida, when she founded Mother Kombucha.

“Tonya and her business partner, Joshua Rumschlag, originally brewed the kombucha in Tonya’s kitchen, selling bottles at local farmers markets.

“Through hard work and a strategic vision, Mother Kombucha now employs nearly 20 people and packages around 7,500 bottles a day, selling kombucha and switchel wholesale to retailers such as Whole Foods, Publix, and Winn-Dixie.

“Mother Kombucha has an exciting future ahead, and it is my distinct honor to name them as the Senate Small Business of the Week.”

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Rubio continues the tradition of honoring America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship oversees proposed legislation on matters relating to the Small Business Administration and investigates all problems relating to America’s small businesses.

St. Pete real estate developer pumps profit back into the community

By | Business | No Comments

Salt Palm Development will use half of its profit on its latest real estate project to benefit the St. Petersburg community.

Mayor Rick Kriseman and Jared Meyers, chairman, Salt Palm Development, at the groundbreaking for The Royal

 

Jared Meyers, chairman of Salt Palm, made the pledge at the groundbreaking for The Royal, a 13-unit townhome development at 545 4th Ave. S, just south of downtown and on the edge of the Innovation District. The project is across the street from Salt Palm’s initial project, Sabal Smart Homes, where profits also were reinvested in the community, Meyers said.

Salt Palm is a certified B-Corp, a type of for-profit business that balances purpose and profit.

“B-Corps are all about giving back to the community, taking  a portion or in some cases all of their profits and investing them back into the community,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman at the groundbreaking. “Philosophically, they are aligned with what we’re trying to accomplish here in St. Pete.”

A rendering of The Royal

The Royal, with prices starting in the $500s, will be built with sustainable living in mind, with features such as LED lightning, energy star appliances, water efficiencies and others.

It also will be solar ready. The company has committed to be net zero by 2030, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

Salt Palm is tapping into the “positive energy” in St. Petersburg, Meyers said. “Downtown St. Pete is unique and special. I felt that when I came here and wanted to be part of it and elevate it,” Meyers said.

There are only 23 B-Corps in Florida, and Salt Palm is the only one that is a real estate development firm.

“It’s a certification that companies receive that says you perform at the highest levels of social and environmental responsibility. It’s a hard certification to attain and that’s why there’s only 3,000 of them worldwide, half in the U.S.,” Meyers said. “I view this to be the type of business model that is best for any community. At the end of the day, communities need businesses that are there to lift the community up to the best of their abilities.”

Salt Palm has a formal commitment to use at least half its profits for the betterment of  St. Petersburg and Florida. The company also has committed 1 percent of its revenue to environmental causes In September, Salt Palm was named a “Best For The World” honoree, a recognition from B Lab, the global nonprofit that certifies and supports certified B Corporations.

Meyers also has launched St. Pete For Good and Florida For Good.

“Businesses are coming together to say we want to do good, we’re responsible, we would like your help to improve on that and we provide free resources for them to get there,” Meyers said. “Whether they become a certified B-Corp at the end of it, or they just improve along the way, that’s fine. We just want you to contribute more to your community, take care of your employees, be more inclusive, and focus on regenerative thoughts processes, not exploitative ones.”

St. Pete For Good, with about 50 businesses in its directory, has inspired other “for good” organizations in central and northeast Florida and Boca Raton, as well as a similar group in Miami, Meyers said. The statewide Florida For Good has about 150 businesses.

The Royal one of two new structures going up in the area. TRB Development is building a new headquarters for insurance technology company Neptune Flood across the street at 400 6th St. S.

Trevor Burgess, CEO, Neptune Flood

Neptune will have about 20 employees on the second level of the building. The ground level will house Lingr, an upscale casual eatery and bar developed by Jeffrey Jew, an alumnus of Bravo’s Top Chef.

“What we’re excited about is this entire part of St. Petersburg is getting the investment Jared is making, that we’re making, to help create this urban, walkable, livable, workable environment, where all of those elements can happen together in one place,” said Trevor Burgess, CEO of Neptune Flood and chairman of TRB.

Neptune fits St. Petersburg’s Grow Smarter economic strategy, which focuses on high-growth businesses. It’s the second business here for Burgess, who was president and CEO of C1 Bank before it sold to Bank OZK.

“Trevor has always been incredibly involved in the community, and so to have him back here with another business, employing people, paying a living wage, that’s a great thing,” Kriseman said.

Take an exclusive sneak peek at a new tool the UN hopes will revolutionize the way companies track their sustainability goals

By | Business | No Comments
Richard FeloniBI Prime

Dec. 14, 2019, 12:03 PM

 

  • Around 600 of the roughly 3,000 B Corporations pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
  • B Lab is a nonprofit launched in 2007 that verifies B Corps, businesses that reject shareholder primacy and go above industry norms in their treatment of employees, customers, the environment, and communities, in addition to their shareholders. B Corps include Danone North America, Patagonia, and Allbirds.
  • It is releasing a new tool in January in conjunction with the UN Global Compact that will allow companies to measure their sustainability practices and set new goals.
  • This article is part of Business Insider’s project “The 2010s: Toward a Better Capitalism.”
  • The Better Capitalism series tracks the ways companies and individuals are rethinking the economy and role of business in society.
  • Visit BI Prime for more stories.

On a recent night in B Lab’s small downtown Manhattan office, two of the nonprofit’s leaders gave Business Insider a demo of a tool they hope will change the way thousands of businesses around the world operate over the coming decade. It was the same day that 533 of the more than 3,000 “B Corporations,” like Allbirds and The Body Shop, pledged to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 (20 years ahead of the Paris Agreement goal), and that Time magazine announced 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg was its “Person of the Year.”

For the past 12 years, B Lab has been dedicated to moving businesses away from profit at all costs. In the office, there was a sense that as the 2010s draw to a close, the group had not only been one of the first to tap into the most important discussion of the past decade, it had achieved real progress. And less than a day after the announcement, around 70 more B Corps announced they wanted to join the pledge.

“What’s exciting is, I think the B Corp community and the B Corp movement continue to be an aspiration,” said B Lab’s director of standards, Dan Osusky, one of the team members giving the demo of the tool, the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Action Manager. He said B Lab was like a “North Star” for many of the companies who have joined the decade’s movement for reconsidering the role of business in society.

Back in 2007, AND1 cofounder Jay Coen Gilbert, along with his former colleague Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy, their friend from Wall Street, formally launched B Lab (the b standing for benefit). They decided that to avoid “greenwashing” and similar disingenuous practices, where companies can give the impression of “doing good” with nothing more than a clever ad campaign, there should be a certification system. B Lab, then, would analyze and then verify businesses that went beyond industry standards for not only sound corporate governance, but for treatment of workers, customers, their communities, and the environment. Examples include Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Eileen Fisher.

The founders’ driving force was a rejection of the theory of shareholder primacy that had reigned since the 1980s, which states that a corporation exists solely to benefit shareholders, and that anything that would benefit others would naturally come as a side effect.

In 2010, the team achieved a major victory when it successfully lobbied for the first “benefit corporation” legislation, in the state of Maryland, that allowed companies to embed the values of a B Corp in their charter. Over the next 10 years, B Lab accrued more than 3,000 B Corps and 8,000 benefit corporations around the world.

This year, the Business Roundtable, a collection of around 200 CEOs of the largest American companies, released a statement that rejected shareholder primacy and advocated for a “stakeholder” model in its place, which, despite lacking binding language, gave major credence to B Lab’s mission.

Additionally, when international food giant Danone’s North American branch became the largest B Corp last year, with 6,000 employees and $6 billion in revenue, B Lab gained a giant corporate ally. You can find the B Corp stamp on Danone’s popular American brands, like Dannon yogurt, Horizon Organic milk, and Silk soy milk products.

“By earning a B Corp Certification we show our employees, consumers, customers and others” that the company will “meet high standards of social and environmental impact, transparency and accountability,” Danone North America CEO Mariano Lozano told Business Insider. He noted that he has been proselytizing the value of joining the B Corp community to the heads of other companies. Danone CEO Emanuel Faber has also said he’s put the international parent company on the path to gaining B Corp certification, and is one of the funders for the SDG Action Manager.

Kassoy, one of B Lab’s cofounders, told us that over the past decade, the financial crisis caused a cultural shift away from corporate criticism on primarily a case by case basis to one demanding systematic change. He said that he saw businesses respond to the millennial generation’s demands for this change, as young people came of age in this time, through their spending and participation in the workforce. He sees this past decade as defined by a successful change in the conversation, and the upcoming one as a chance to put that momentum toward actual change.

“Now it’s about walking the walk, and things like collective action and public policy create the opportunity for lots of companies to walk the walk,” he said. He wants B Lab to be one of the leaders in guiding companies and politicians toward this action.

So, as this decade closes out and another is about to begin, B Lab is setting its focus on sustainability, and has partnered with the United Nations Global Compact. The UNGC is a UN-affiliated network of businesses that make joint commitments to sustainability and share best practices.

B Lab decided that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 goals set in 2015 that are aimed at addressing causes and effects of inequality and man-made climate change, would be their guide. The sustainability tool Osusky and his colleague Laura Velez Villa, who oversees the project, showed us gives companies the ability to assess their sustainability efforts against the SDGs.

un sdgsUnited Nations

Velez Villa pointed out that a central tension that companies face when considering the SDGs is that they were developed for countries, but that the private sector represents 75% of global GDP — that is, if the SDGs are ever going to be achieved, business has to be along for the ride.

“So our answer in putting this out into the world is, regardless of the type of business you are, here is how you make a real dent in these big challenges,” she said, referring to the SDG Action Manager.

With the manager, users can answer a series of baseline questions to determine which of the sustainability goals are most relevant to them. For example, an automaker will be especially equipped for working toward No. 13, climate action, but likely not No. 2, zero hunger.

b lab sdg action managerB Lab

The program will recommend a set of SDGs that the company can have the most impact on, and then the user can go through a series of questions for them. The modules are filled with learning resources provided by the UNGC, and allows companies to set goals for themselves. After answering every question, the tool will generate a percentage, where 100% is an impossible goal, and 40-50% is about what a typical B Corp would score.

Osusky and Velez Villa said that beta testers are indicating that most companies will want to focus on one to five particular SDGs, and that after about a month of being live, the Action Manager will have enough data to show how a company measures up against others in its industry. Velez Villa has set a goal of 5,000 users by the end of 2020, with at least 500 of them using the manager to set goals for their company.

sdg action manager b labB Lab

She noted that today’s conversation around the role of business seems to be a sudden shift, but has been building for years, and has been accelerated by events like the financial crisis and new research on the dangerous future the planet faces if we continue on the path we’re on.

“We all are aware of the Business Roundtable, which is a significant milestone and an important signaling mechanism, but for that type of thing to happen, so much was brewing underneath, right? There’s a lot of anger and disappointment and lack of trust in the public,” Velez Villa said.

This unrest, from peaceful ones like Thunberg’s climate march to the student demonstrations in Hong Kong, is compelling society to rethink power structures, and business is part of that, Velez Villa said.

“It is waking up to the reality that is inequity, and the reality that is environmental injustice,” she added. “And I think that something good should come out of that.”

Davos Manifesto 2020: The Universal Purpose of a Company in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

By | Business | No Comments
Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

A. The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation. In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. The best way to understand and harmonize the divergent interests of all stakeholders is through a shared commitment to policies and decisions that strengthen the long-term prosperity of a company.

i. A company serves its customers by providing a value proposition that best meets their needs. It accepts and supports fair competition and a level playing field. It has zero tolerance for corruption. It keeps the digital ecosystem in which it operates reliable and trustworthy. It makes customers fully aware of the functionality of its products and services, including adverse implications or negative externalities.

ii. A company treats its people with dignity and respect. It honours diversity and strives for continuous improvements in working conditions and employee well-being. In a world of rapid change, a company fosters continued employability through ongoing upskilling and reskilling.

iii. A company considers its suppliers as true partners in value creation. It provides a fair chance to new market entrants. It integrates respect for human rights into the entire supply chain.

iv. A company serves society at large through its activities, supports the communities in which it works, and pays its fair share of taxes. It ensures the safe, ethical and efficient use of data. It acts as a steward of the environmental and material universe for future generations. It consciously protects our biosphere and champions a circular, shared and regenerative economy. It continuously expands the frontiers of knowledge, innovation and technology to improve people’s well-being.

v. A company provides its shareholders with a return on investment that takes into account the incurred entrepreneurial risks and the need for continuous innovation and sustained investments. It responsibly manages near-term, medium-term and long-term value creation in pursuit of sustainable shareholder returns that do not sacrifice the future for the present.

B. A company is more than an economic unit generating wealth. It fulfils human and societal aspirations as part of the broader social system. Performance must be measured not only on the return to shareholders, but also on how it achieves its environmental, social and good governance objectives. Executive remuneration should reflect stakeholder responsibility.

C. A company that has a multinational scope of activities not only serves all those stakeholders who are directly engaged, but acts itself as a stakeholder – together with governments and civil society – of our global future. Corporate global citizenship requires a company to harness its core competencies, its entrepreneurship, skills and relevant resources in collaborative efforts with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.

Going Beyond ‘Green Travel’ to Create a Lasting Impact on the Hospitality Industry

By | Business, Community | No Comments

Legacy Vacation Resorts is dedicated to providing vacation experiences for families and friends to create their unique moments and lasting memories in a manner that respects our environment, employees and community. The company as a whole seeks to go beyond simple eco-friendly initiatives and use our business to make a legitimate positive impact in the communities we serve and the world at large.

In March of 2019, LVR became a Certified B Corporation, which are companies that voluntarily commit to transparency and legally dedicate themselves to a triple bottom line of serving people, the planet and profit. Since then, the company has used these principles as a guiding light for the future of our business and its stakeholders.

A Purpose Driven Mission For More

In late 2017, Legacy Vacation Resorts was working hard to deliver a great value on high quality vacation experiences for our guests and we were doing so successfully, at least by traditional metrics. We were profitable, reinvesting back into our operation, improving guest satisfaction and providing growth for our employees. Despite this success, it did not feel like we were driving a positive overall impact. In fact, it seemed we were, like many companies, seeking incremental improvement and allowing others to deal with our business’ negative externalities, many occurring without our knowledge because we did not measure them.

Legacy Vacation Club Indian Shores in Clearwater Beach, Florida

We struggled to see how we could make a net positive impact and felt that the word “sustainability” was being used by most businesses as part of a “green/purpose washing” campaign. Not wanting to do the same, we began educating ourselves on how we could use our resources and abilities most effectively and credibly. Through this process, we identified a few business movements and programs that enlightened us on how we could properly measure our impact, enhance what we were doing well, reduce or eliminate what we were not, and contribute to larger systematic change for a shared, inclusive, and durable prosperity for all.

We have since aligned with several of these organizations but were most enamored with Certified B Corporations. Administered by the non-profit, B Lab, Certified B Corps are businesses that voluntarily meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose through third-party verification. They adopt a higher purpose, stakeholder orientation, conscious practices, and offset their negative externalities.

These practices led them to thrive through strong profits, stability, and valuation. While some household names like Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Ben & Jerry’s, and Seventh Generation were part of this movement, we were disheartened to learn that our home state of Florida (the 3rd most populous state), only had 17 B Corps, and the entire United States had no multi-state resort hospitality companies.

Finally, we had found a way that we could deliver a net positive societal impact and we were determined to not only become a certified B Corp, but to facilitate the growth of the B Corp movement in Florida and in the hospitality industry at large.

In early 2018, LVR began efforts toward securing B Corp Certification. This meant analyzing our operating procedures and efforts in five Impact Areas required by the certification process, including Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. During what turned out to be a year-long process aligning every aspect of Legacy Vacation Resorts with B Lab’s requirements, the company rolled out multiple initiatives towards a more sustainable business model.

In addition to becoming a Certified B Corporation, LVR was among the first multi-state hotel companies to become a member of 1% For The Planet, a network of more than 1,500 member businesses, numerous individuals, and thousands of nonprofit partners in more than 40 countries. The organization is fostering a global movement, inspiring businesses to support environmental solutions by making a simple commitment to donate 1% of their sales revenue to various charities working in one of six core focus areas, including climate, food, land, pollution, water, and wildlife. LVR also became a proud partner of Conscious Capitalism International, an organization that maintains a philosophy based on a simple idea that when practiced consciously, business innately elevates humanity.

Building A Legacy

After certification became official in March of 2019, LVR became the first multi-state hospitality and vacation ownership company to offset the carbon footprint of guests booked through our website, offer to donate 5% of our guest’s reservation to a charity of their choice, donate 1% of our total revenue to environmental charities (as part of our 1% for the Planet commitment), sponsor Conscious Capitalism, and meet Certified B Corporation standards. The new sustainable business model includes 100% carbon footprint offsetting for guests that book directly with the LVR website, electric vehicle chargers at each property, waste reduction and enhanced recycling efforts, sustainable lifestyle awareness campaigns, green-focused renovation projects and a living wage initiative for employees in our eight locations across four states.

The company also implemented an internal “Day of Hope” campaign, which gives employees the opportunity to receive paid time off in pursuit of volunteer activities. Moving forward, LVR has adopted a reduction target to cut down all emissions by 25% by the year 2025.

LVR is also undergoing a process of changing the way we think as a company to a “Life-Cycle” approach. This means we are taking into account where our dollars go from manufacturing to distribution to consumption. Together with suppliers, we are working towards ensuring they enforce a responsible code of conduct in their own workplaces. We believe the companies, vendors and suppliers we work with should support their local economy and support purchases that do not sacrifice the environment or cause harm to human wellbeing and health.

While all of these changes will give our existing guests additional reasons to be proud to stay with us, they will also attract a new kind of traveler and customer – one that shares our values and places importance on social responsibility, environmental responsibility and sustainable travel. By incorporating these conscious values into our ethos rather than just creating a department for it, leadership sincerely believes we will achieve our mission better than ever before and experience revenue growth for the company.

Looking ahead, as we exhibit success by using our business as a force for good, we will share this information within the hospitality industry to help it attain sustainable economic development. Our desire is not to be the best in the world but the best for the world, and part of that is to inspire other companies to follow suit.

Our Impact in Action

An excellent place to see the implementation and execution of our new sustainable initiatives is at the company’s flagship location, Legacy Vacation Resorts Indian Shores, home to villa-style accommodations and beach access just a short walk away. Located on the picturesque Gulf Coast of Florida, the property recently underwent a full scale green renovation project and now boasts the smallest energy footprint of all locations in our portfolio.

The project introduced all new energy star appliances and fixtures as well as new operation and maintenance procedures to ensure that the building isn’t only built in a sustainable manner, but is also being managed efficiently as well. The remodel efforts used low VOC paints, and policies we have in place require the use of non-toxic cleaners, therefore reducing toxic output.

Water management products and systems are used to help conserve our water usage and reduce water waste, and guests are provided with in-room pitchers and signage detailing the safety of filtered water provided by the city to hopefully eliminate their need for single-use plastic water bottles. Furthermore, native and drought-resistant landscaping is used throughout the property to mitigate the need for heavy irrigation and use of fertilizers. The resort, along with all locations in the company, offers waste recycling services for guests as well as a partnership with Clean the World, a certified B Corp, based in Orlando, that recycles our used hygiene products and repurposes them back to vulnerable communities around the world.

The resort also seeks to do good for the local community, and we first look to utilize products and services from local and Certified B Corp suppliers and vendors whenever possible thus contributing to a circular economy. This supplier management is not just better business, but an effort to educate our guests about new responsible products that they can obtain back home.

We plan to implement similar projects and initiatives at all of our eight locations in four states, with some impressive programs having already been introduced. Currently, our Brigantine beach resort is powered by 100% renewable electricity. ‘Sustainability Champions’ have been appointed at each location that acts as a sustainability ambassador to communicate and promote corporate initiatives. All resorts with food and beverage operations offer plant-based food options and boxed water is available at Resort Markets. This year, we launched an annual scholarship program where we provided three $2,000.00 scholarships to employees or their dependents.

The company also began a matching campaign for employee contributions to approved charities which includes donations the employees give collectively throughout the company and during property activities up to $2,500.00. We have also established an employee energy rebate program at our headquarters, as well as the Orlando and Kissimmee properties, where employees can purchase LED lights at our company’s cost to help with reducing their personal carbon footprint at home. There is also a selection of socially responsible investing options available in employee retirement plans.

One of the most remarkable initiatives is our Employee Income Advance Program, currently available for Florida and New Jersey-based employees. This program offers bank assistance to employees in good standing (generally with a tenure of one year or greater) by providing loaned funds of $500 – $2,500 for emergency expenditures. Loans are repaid via automatic payroll deductions, thus building the borrower’s credit score. Once the loan is paid off, the payroll deduction is continued and rolled into a savings account. This program helps employees not only avoid predatory lending to take care of emergency financial needs, but also builds credit and savings, financial literacy and financial stability.

Looking ahead, each location will continue to find ways to reduce single use plastic items and unnecessary waste, individual amenities will be switched out for refillable dispensers, check-in documents will be streamlined to eliminate the need for printed collateral, and we will seek continued improvement.