University of Georgia MBA student Zack Godfrey is challenging business owners in Georgia to rethink their practices and consider using their companies as a force for good.
Godfrey’s Campus Sustainability Grant project connects students with businesses to help companies improve their social and environmental impact on their communities by implementing sustainable practices. The ultimate goal of this clinic is to help local businesses improve their operations and to give students tools to be able to make a difference in their careers.
The B Corp certification is granted to businesses with the “highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose,” according to the B Corp website.
To become B Corp certified, businesses must earn at least 80 points out of a possible 200. Businesses are scored in categories like workers, customers, community, and environment.
The B Corp assessment is completely free, so businesses can get assessed to see where they stand and then work to improve their scores in any lacking areas.
Godfrey’s project connects MBA and sustainability capstone students with local companies looking to improve their scores. The students act as consultants for the companies, assisting them in solving problems and pinpointing areas for improvement.
“If you want to grow and be better, we have people here in place at the university who want to plug in and help those businesses,” Godfrey said. “It’s one of the best ways a company could choose to go through the process is by engaging students who want to help.”
There are currently 13 B Corp certified businesses in Georgia, and students are working with three more Atlanta and Athens-based companies that want to achieve this certification.
“Cutting your costs, being more efficient operationally, building more loyalty by having these programs in place that make you an attractive business, that’s how you keep your business going long term.”- Zack Godfrey
The Atlanta-based companies are the Sustainable Community Solutions Network, which provides consulting for Black-owned businesses, and The Come Up Project, an organization that provides at-risk youth with support, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. The third business, the Imery Group, is an Athens-based construction company that builds sustainable, efficient homes.
Godfrey said Georgia is behind on its number of B Corp businesses when compared with other southern states like North Carolina, which has around 50 B Corp businesses.
“It’s really interesting because it usually takes somebody being a champion and saying we need to put ourselves to the test,” Godfrey said.
Godfrey sees this push from businesses that want to improve their score as necessary for not only the sustainability of businesses, but also for the sustainability of the community as a whole.
“Cutting your costs, being more efficient operationally, building more loyalty by having these programs in place that make you an attractive business, that’s how you keep your business going long term,” Godfrey said.
Godfrey hopes to engage people from all across the university to use their skill set to help with this project.
“You don’t have to be a sustainability expert to be a part of this,” Godfrey said. “It takes people that care and want to take a stand to make this work.”
Written by Jordan Meaker