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B-Corp: The Only Certification That Matters

B-Corp: The Only Certification That Matters

Today's guest blogger is our very own CEO, Eric Edelson. He is talking about why there is no certification that we believe in more than the B Corporation label:

I hate certifications, especially product certifications. At Fireclay Tile, none of our products are certified because, well, we'd rather just tell you what we do and earn your trust by being open and transparent about what we do and how we do it. But we do believe in certifying our company, and there is no certification that we believe in more than the B Corporation label. The "B" Certification is a symbol of companies using Business as a Force for Good, and I'm proud to announce that Fireclay was just re-certified as a B Corp, remaining the first and only tile manufacturer or tile retailer to earn this distinguished recognition. We improved our score almost 15%, going from a bare-minimum 80 in 2015 to a reputable 92! (Click here to see our 2016 Report).

Today there are over 2,000 certified B Corps around the world, including incredible brands like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry's, and King Arthur Flour. The B Corporation certification proves different from other eco-certification in that it quantifies an organization's environmental health, workforce benefits, community contribution, and governance transparency through a stringent surveying and point system. Serving as a resource and the source of certification, the nonprofit B Lab officiates the certification when an organization meets performance and legal requirements, by scoring a minimum of 80 out of 200 points on the assessment and potentially embedding the B Corporation Legal Framework into a "company's DNA." While extremely challenging, the "Certified B Corporation" stamp of approval sets a standard of accountability and changes the way one perceives the power of their business or business at large.

Fireclay's journey is not unique from the other 2,000 who have earned this recognition, and for those considering B Certification, there is no better place to start than The B Impact Assessment. If you're like me, you like numbers and you love to see how you stack up against the competition. The B Corp Assessment, the evaluation that determines one's eligibility to be certified, is used not only as a tool for those companies looking to become more sustainable but to promote perpetual growth. In order to improve one's score, an organization must take on more challenges, more initiatives, and more responsibility.

To go from an 80 to a 92 required a number of improvements company-wide over the last two years. Big changes that we’ve made in the past two years include:

Paying our team members significantly more than California’s $10.50 minimum wage. Our production team starts at $12.00 an hour, but with overtime and bonus, most end up earning well over $13.00 per hour. We have a stated goal to get to $15 per hour by the end of 2018. Company wide our average pay has increased 42% in the past 3 years!

  • Expanding our 401K program, where we now match up to 4% of pay.
  • Expanding our charitable contributions program, where we have contributed between cash and product contributions up to 1% of revenue in past years. We have also pledged 1% of our Equity to charity!
  • Promoting diversity within our organization - we are 45% women and our leadership team is 43% female.
  • Expanded our healthcare coverage by paying more of our team members’ premiums - we now cover 85% of employees and 20% of dependents.
  • Expanded employee ownership in Fireclay Tile from 7% in 2015 to over 12% today. Each team member at Fireclay within their first year of service receives stock options in our company.
  • Just introduced our 4th consecutive company-wide bonus program, where all team members can earn more by beating our gross margin targets. This program is transparent to team members on a weekly basis through our open-book management practice.
  • Expanded our paid maternity/paternity leave to include 4 weeks of paid time off.
  • Annual company-wide surveys to assess team member satisfaction.

Going forward, we are super excited to now have six team members on our “B Team,” our internal team committed to reinforcing the B Corp values within Fireclay. This year they plan to focus on inclusion, measuring our environmental outputs, volunteering, and employee happiness satisfaction.

Our "B Team":

As the buzz of B Corporations amplifies and consumers continue to focus on where their goods come from, the "B" is certainly becoming more recognizable in the aisles of the local grocer and even in our world among Architects, Designers, and Homeowners. When one supports a B Corp, they support not only the quality of their products and services but the workforce and community associated with those brands.

In the spirit of Fireclay: Tile, transparency, accountability, and performance to the people!

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