The B Corporation label is definitely memorable when deciding between soap or olive oil at the health food store, but between the hundreds of certifications patchworked on the back of product packaging, it's hard to know what cause to prioritize, and what emblem to adopt. Not until becoming Fireclay Tile's resident "B Keeper" did I understand the intention of the big "B" on the back of my King Arthur Flour or Bob's Red Mill quinoa. The "B", I discovered, after much reading and research, is a symbol of economical and environmental responsibility, to use one of society's most impactful tools for change, business.
2015 marks Fireclay Tile becoming a Certified B Corporation, joining the efforts of many other sustainable organizations to "redefine success in business." In efforts to stand out in the crowd and "B the Change," companies are pursuing heightened responsibility and transparency, to use business as a force of good. Fireclay is honored to be the first tile company to have joined the over 1,000 other corporations already certified, working to protect the environment and enhance the community.
The B Corporation certification proves different to other eco-certifications in that it quantifies an organization's environmental health, workforce benefits, community contribution and governance transparency through stringent surveying and point systems. 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 imbedding the B Corporation Legal Framework into a "company's DNA." While challenging, the "B" stamp of approval sets a standard of accountability, and changes the way one perceives the power of their business or business at large.
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 the end, no one organization is entirely "green," and the B Corporation seal promotes that idea. In order to improve one's score, an organization must take on more challenges, more initiatives, and more responsibility. In the case of Fireclay, as more product is launched and more tile is made, the company will look to not only maintain this environmental awareness, but will work to enhance its consciousness on all fronts.
Fireclay Tile has been working diligently over the past few years to epitomize prevalent B Corporations like Patagonia, Method, Etsy and Ben & Jerry's. With initiatives to establish employee ownership stake in the company, provide monthly financial transparency for all team members, facilitate local donations from brick sales and so forth, Fireclay has been working towards enhancing its workforce and local community. Advantageously, Fireclay's lean, sustainable production practices and historic use of local recycled materials was pivotal in becoming certified. By recycling water and local materials (like gravel dust, solar glass, toilets, etc.) and making all product to order, Fireclay has minimized waste, contributing to the company's strongest assessment in the "Environment" category.
With 34 countries and 60 industries within the B Corp community, Fireclay stands out in the design world as one of the few taking steps towards more responsible business. Many steps remain to strengthen the company's role in the B community and overall assessment, but the unifying goal of B Corp is very much reflective of Fireclay's historic goals and priorities. Our founder Paul Burns speaks of his philosophy of resenting waste and prizing efficiency, which has very much laid the foundation of Fireclay's eligibility for this certification, and ability to influence the design industry.
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. When one supports a B Corp, they support not only the quality of their products of services, but the workforce and community associated. In the spirit of Fireclay: Tile, transparency, accountability, and performance to the people!
– James Reid, Commercial Sales and Resident "B Keeper"