Last July, in an exciting announcement for us in the B Corp community, Coast Capital Savings announced that they were becoming a Certified B Corporation.

Coast Capital Savings is a member-owned full-service financial institution headquartered in Surrey, BC. By membership, it is the largest credit union in Canada with 572,000 members and $23.4 billion in assets. To the B Corp community, adding Coast Capital to an illustrious list of members from around the globe was a huge win.

And for Coast Capital, being certified was a great source of pride for a business already making an impact in the community.

Coast Capital’s impact can be seen across a number of initiatives. As Maureen Young, Director, Community Leadership, noted, “[Coast Capital is] on a mission to improve the financial well-being of our members while investing 10% of our bottom line back into our communities annually. We're proud to be a recognized B Corp and a true force for good in financial services, and will continue to hold ourselves accountable to socially responsible practices.”

To celebrate Coast Capital’s one year anniversary as a B Corporation, we sat down with Roanne Weyermars, Senior Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility & Engagement, to talk about what B Corp status means to Coast Capital, and to reflect on their first year as a B Corporation. Read on to see what Roanne had to say.

Photo Credit: Coast Capital Savings

 

What was your reaction when you first heard that Coast Capital was becoming a B Corp?

I was actually the one that led the certification efforts, so I was happily aware! We introduced B Corp certification as a way to measure our impact, benchmark against best practices and build our brand as a socially-conscious company. Our certification is a great source of personal and employee pride for me. It reflects the impact of our organization as a whole and that we care for our members, employees, communities and the planet. It also positions us alongside a B Corp community of local and global brands who are leaders in social and environmental impact.

 

How did your team react? Were people excited? Did they know what it meant?

Working for a purpose-led organization means that many of our employees have a strong value-set that includes social impact. So, there was certainly a group of employees who had heard of B Corps and were enthusiastic. For other employees, B Corp certification was entirely new. For both groups, we had an opportunity to go deeper and demonstrate how we met the criteria and scored high enough on the impact assessment to become a B Corp.

With a goal of fostering engagement, we took an interactive approach to educate our employees about what it meant to be a B Corp. We extended the question, “what does B Corp certification mean to you?” and offered employees different ways to respond. This led employees to do a bit of research and then make the connection back to why they were proud to work with a B Corp. Employees mentioned everything from to volunteering, to teaching financial literacy, to environmental initiatives, to an inclusive workplace. It was incredible to see what resonated with employees on a personal level.

 

Last year, you announced your B Corp Certification with a “B Day” celebration in your company.

You chose to work with Saul Good to provide gift baskets to each of your branches including only B Corp certified products from across Canada in the baskets. How did you come up with this idea to help announce your certification? What kind of impact did it make on your staff?

 

 

Photo Credit: Coast Capital Savings

 

We had actually seen others in the B Corp community mark their certification announcement with a “B Day” type celebration and leveraged this creative concept. Our goal was to increase employee awareness that we were a B Corp while benefiting our fellow B Corp community and the world around us.

I’m proud to say that Coast Capital has had a longstanding relationship with Saul Good. In fact, Saul Good gifts have been our “go-to” for many years. For this initiative, with Saul Good’s help and customization, we were able to leverage B Corp products to announce our certification and tell a story about the community we were now a part of. The customer experience was outstanding as usual.

Of course, employees loved the delicious and quality contents of the gift boxes. And we were proud to work with Saul Good because of the impact your company has – particularly, the work you do with social enterprises to employ adults with developmental disabilities is remarkable. Saul Good is a great example of what “business as a force for good” looks like and we’re so proud to continue to partner with you!

How has your corporate culture changed since becoming a B Corp?

B Corp certification compliments our purpose-driven and caring culture. As a credit union and a cooperative, being a good corporate citizen who puts the well-being of our members, employees, and communities first has always been part of our DNA. Now that we’re a year in, I’m seeing employees begin to connect their actions to our B Corp Certification and bringing forward initiatives with the lens of challenging ourselves to create even more positive impact for our members, employees, communities and the planet too. It has been a source of inspiration and empowerment. 

 

 

Photo Credit: Coast Capital Savings

 

 

Do you have any stories you can share of your employees being empowered by B Corp status and taking action?

Many! One that comes to mind took place recently. A group of our branch leaders held a meeting and team building day several weeks ago. For the afternoon portion of the meeting – inspired by the #trashtag frenzy on social media – they picked up garbage and litter around the City of Victoria. This activity was completely self-led by this group of managers.

Additionally, on June 19th, our commercial banking team participated in an annual day of volunteering. More than 100 volunteers updated, renovated, and painted a gymnasium in the Cowichan Tribes community.

 

What’s something you wish everyone knew about B Corps?

I hope that one day, there will be a better understanding that B Corp certification is for a whole business. That means that you’re not just picking one area of your business to make an impact. The B Impact Assessment includes hundreds of questions across the impact areas of Governance, Workers, Customers, Community and Environment. The B Corp model requires a balance between profit and purpose.

Wouldn’t it be great if more businesses considered adopting this model? I believe the business community has the power to advance some of the major social and environmental issues of our time. Even if they aren’t able to certify, there are many lessons that businesses can take from the B Corp model. As more consumers lean toward socially conscious purchase decisions, “business as a force for good” is also becoming increasingly important to the sustainability of businesses themselves.

 

 

What’s a wish you have for the B Corp community?

I would like to see the B Corp community strengthened by more businesses adopting “B Corp ish” values and ways of doing business. The current B Corp community is growing and includes organizations of different shapes and sizes around the world. In my experience, many of these organizations will happily share lessons learned through their positive practices and B Corp certification. Working independently and together, we can use profits and growth to a greater end and brighter future.

 

 

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