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Fireclay News

March is B-Corp Month!

By Jennifer Albee |

March is B-Corp month! Certified Benefit Corporations (or B-Corps) are businesses that go above and beyond the status quo of just turning a profit and believe that investing in our people and our planet will grant the greatest return in social and environmental change. Fireclay Tile has been proud to be a B-Corp since 2015 (and the first tile company to be B-Corp Certified!). To us, being a B-Corp means holding ourselves to higher standards of performance, accountability, and transparency in order to better ourselves and the world around us. Keep reading to learn more about B-Corps and our supportive efforts from Firelay's B-Corp Leader, Jennifer Albee. 

Meet Jenni, Fireclay Tile's B-Corp Leader

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Jennifer Albee, Fireclay Tile Design Consultant & B-Corp Leader 

My name is Jennifer Albee and I'm Fireclay Tile’s first official B-Corp Leader. Growing up in a small town where fitting-in, sitting pretty, and following tradition was encouraged-- I naturally became a rebel. My social and environmental efforts began when I started a compost and recycling program at my middle school, championing equality and representation during community sponsored events, and taking leadership roles for causes I believed in. 

When I first joined Fireclay Tile, I was intrigued by the company’s dedication to sustainability. From day one, I started to memorize statistics about our recycled content usage [up to 70% in clay body tiles], safety initiatives [Lead-free production since 1988], and community contributions [along the lines of $50k+ per year in donations and kickbacks to the community]. 

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My first big exposure to B-Corps as Fireclay's B-Corp Leader came from attending the 2018 Bay Area B-Corp Leadership Development Conference AKA “BLD - Bay Area” where I learned about addressing environmental responsibility, community improvement projects, and Carbon Footprint reduction. I also participated activities that discussed the impacts of institutional racism and social justice through an interactive reading of Maya Angelou’s poem, The Mask.

A Few of our Milestones: 

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For those who don’t know, in order to become a Certified B-Corp, a business must take the B-Impact Assessment [BIA] and achieve a score of 80 or higher based on a total of 200 points. The BIA is a multi-faceted online exam that considers your efforts in the categories of Community, Workers, Environment, Governance, and Customers. There are 100+ questions that examine the day-to-day functions, overall business model, and ethos of an applying organization. 

Our Report Card:

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For a directory of fellow B-Corps, click here.  

Currently, our efforts are focused on waste management and scaled growth. The building materials and finishing industry is known to be one of the most wasteful and denigrating in regards to our environment. Fireclay's current processes which include clay recycling, on-site water reuse, and recyclable/compostable packaging are helping to specifically reduce our environmental impact. 

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In the past year, we have also increased our benefits package to be more inclusive and supportive of employees with families and special needs. In addition, since launching our 401k program in 2015, we have matched over $380,000 in 401k contributions on top of regularly scheduled bonuses [over $300,000 in 2018, and over $140,000 in 0% Interest loans for our team members].

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Traveling to New Orleans for the International B-Corp Leadership Development conference in September of 2018 was a life-changing experience. It was my first time traveling in this capacity for work so I was dedicated to bringing home as much as possible. I spent the week in NoLa volunteering at a local food bank, exchanging stories with other B-Corp leaders, and gathering the tools I needed to push Fireclay Tile to new heights. 

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This year, I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with my fellow B-Corp peers at the 2019 International BLD in Los Angeles to discuss the newest version of the BIA, V6, and all of the changes and challenges it brings.  

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2019 has already started off strong for Fireclay Tile. We recently contributed $45,000 to Greenaction and the Hunters Point-Bayview Environmental Justice Task Force, a local clean-up effort that is near and dear to us. 

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Fireclay Tile Team presenting $45k to Greenaction Executive Director, Bradley Angel 

We’ve also “adopted” the Aromas Elementary School, A K-8 educational institution where a majority of our factory employees and their kin have or currently attend. We have formalized this commitment through financial and volunteer support. 

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Aromas School Staff touring the Fireclay Tile Factory in Aromas, Calif. 

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve also partnered with the National Parks Conservation Association [NPCA] to contribute a percentage of our total Glazed Thin Brick sales to preserving our National Parks. In solidarity with the NPCA, we’ve named all of our brick glazes after National Parks. 

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As an added bonus, we are so excited to welcome fellow B-Corp, Carnegie Fabrics to our San Francisco Showroom/Offices where they have established their only West Coast Showroom! 

What I’ve learned over the past year is that things move quickly and it’s up to us to educate and improve ourselves constantly and consistently. The world won’t sit around and wait for us, we need to lead the charge towards change. My advice to other B-Corp leaders who are just getting started is to find others within your organization and territory who believe in what you are doing, then create a micro-community. I tried to show “strength” by keeping to myself, not asking for help, and really attempting to make a change solo. It was the totally wrong approach as teamwork makes the dreamwork after all. Now, I find my close advocates driving me towards accountability, success, and improvement. If our goal is to provide a better economy and work-life balance for the next generation, B-Corps must move in sync. 

I am honored to be apart of the Bay Area B-Corp community and to work for a business that is using its platform as a force for good and bringing others along on the journey with us. 

B-Corps to the people! 

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