The Image Shoppe
(TIS), a Grand Rapids-based brand marketing agency, has officially earned its certification as a Benefit Corporation, or B Corporation
, the first marketing agency in the state of Michigan to do so.
Keeping it in the family, TIS joins its clients 616 Lofts
, Bazzani and Essence Restaurant Group
(ERG) as a certified B Corp.
B Corporations are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Essentially, it is a 21st century litmus test for organizations that are committed to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit and have the internal policies, procedures and organizational culture to back it up.
Karen Tracey, TIS’s president and creative director, says the B Corp certification validates many of her company’s core values. “We always have been very conscious about our environmental footprint,” she says. “It has always been part of our culture. We’ve been acting this way for a long time before we heard about B Corp.”
Examples of the programs and organizational values that TIS have in place include:
- Implementing a reduction, recycling and composting program for proper disposal of resources.
- Volunteering for and serving community organizations, such as The Cook Leadership Academy at The Hauenstein Center, Equity Drinks, WMEAC, Well House, and others.
- Installing a native plant garden on the lot and creating a community green space.
- Paying employees competitive, living wages that are not less than 50 percent of executive salaries.
- Sourcing recycled and alternative fiber papers for print pieces.
Tracey says the amount of rigor and detail in the certification process is extremely important in making sure that being a B Corp is not a simple application process, but rather it documents and measures policies and procedures that align with the B Corp ethos. “It’s very important to us,” she says. “We are who we claim be. It’s a also a validation point that resonates with our clients.”
Earning B Corp certification is not a static accomplishment. The organization created a sustainability team, led by Emily Hammes, to champion ongoing efforts. “We started a sustainability team in 2015 that consists of four employees to ensure that we are holding ourselves accountable to these values,” Tracey says. “Now we are now measuring and documenting things that we hadn't measured in the past, like pounds of compost, recycling and landfill, for example. And every staff member participates in this process.”
With TIS’s new designation as a B Corp business, as well as other locales throughout Grand Rapids landing the label, a focus on, and recognition of, being environmentally sustainable and socially responsible organizations is quickly becoming the norm in the city’s commercial landscape — in huge part due to Local First.
Rob McCarty, TIS chief executive officer, points to Local First (an organization he helped to found that has spearhead efforts to encourage Grand Rapids businesses to apply for B Corp status) as an example of where he feels B Corp certification is heading — and what it can mean for a community.
For other businesses interested in following in the footsteps of places like TIS, 616 Lofts, Brewery Vivant, and Essence Restaurant Group, among others, McCarty recommends they take Local First’s Quick Impact Assessment
. The assessment is a free online tool to help interested companies discover how prepared they are for B Corp status.
To learn more about TIS you can view their page here
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Job News Editor