This article was originally featured in ColoradoBiz magazine. Click here to read the full feature.
In this ongoing series, ColoradoBiz magazine sits down with a Best for Colorado company to learn all about the impact they have in our state. We sat down with director of people and culture, Michelle Miller of Wordbank for this interview.
This interview is part of an ongoing series with ColoradoBiz Magazine to learn from Best for Colorado companies about the impact they have in our state.
Taking a traditional industry or profession and transforming it for the greater good can be difficult, but that is just what Wordbank did with marketing. While the company helps global brands create and execute localized marketing campaigns and communications programs, it also decided to run its business people first.
“Since 1988, we’ve prided ourselves on being something different in our industry. Committed to human-driven language delivery and a people-first mentality, we do business with integrity,” says Michelle Miller, director of people and culture at Wordbank. “We believe that our people are our greatest asset, our culture sets us apart from our competitors and our commitment to what we can achieve together is unrivalled in our industry.”
In the years since its founding, Wordbank has executed marketing campaigns – for both large and small companies with the focus of growing their international brand and presence – in more than 200 languages across 95 countries. And, it is in the process of becoming a certified B Corp.
ColoradoBiz: How is corporate social responsibility (CSR) a function or priority within your organization? How did it emerge?
Michelle Miller: Our approach to CSR is built into who we are, how we work and who we do business with.
We believe that treating people and the planet well inspires a cycle of positive change and drives sustainable business. That’s why we’re committed to living by three simple words: people, planet, profit. These words drive our purpose and are embedded in our culture and our company strategy.
While we always strive to be the best in the world at what we do, we also want to be the best for the world as we do it. In 2012, we made a strategic commitment to fully develop our CSR practices and to pursue certification and accreditations to prove that we don’t simply talk about our mission; we take action.
We are in the process of becoming a certified B Corp and joining B Lab’s growing movement. We’re all for profits but not at any cost. We believe in the B Economy — an inclusive economy that creates an opportunity for all people to live with dignity, support themselves and their families, and make a contribution to their communities. Our industry has much to improve in this regard and we are proud to stand with other companies who share these values.
CB: What are the specific programs, practices and priorities that fall within your organization’s CSR approach? How has this evolved?
MM: Our CSR consists of several programs and practices, including: a volunteering and charitable giving program; an environmental action program; a health and wellness program; promoting equity, diversity and inclusion; equal pay for equal work pledge; Wordbank votes program; and a happiness team.
Our CSR programs largely evolved through the way we do business. The B Impact Assessment helped us put in structure and drive accountability around our natural operating standards, where previously we didn’t have a formal framework to define and measure our impact. It provided the baseline we should be aiming for, not just for certification, but as a way to benchmark our wider impact on the world.
CB: What is most rewarding/challenging about this aspect of your organization’s work?
MM: The most rewarding aspect of these CSR programs is walking the walk around our commitment to doing business with integrity and putting people first.
On the flip side, that’s also been the most challenging aspect: completing the B Impact Assessment, writing up supporting documentation and formalizing our KPIs and reporting. It’s been a long journey but we approached it as a side-by-side effort — progressing with the assessment as we documented policies and programs, figuring out how to report on our impact and bringing our people with us along the way.
CB: What was the proudest achievement you’ve faced?
MM: Our proudest achievement so far was being selected and awarded Best for Colorado Honoree. This was an incredibly important milestone for us. Our work with the B Impact Assessment undoubtedly put us into the running for the Best for Colorado program and, conversely, the Best for Colorado program helped us with the final push towards B Corp certification.
CB: How did you become involved with the Best for Colorado program?
MM: We first heard about the Best for Colorado program through a B Lab lunch and learn. Once we understood the assessment would pull questions and answers from the B Impact Assessment, it seemed a natural part of our journey.
As a Best for Colorado Honoree, we were invited to the Champions Retreat in New Orleans last October, which opened the door for us to feel connected with the broader community and learn more about those the members. That opportunity further motivated us to finalize and submit our completed assessment.
CB: Can you describe any eye-opening experiences that Best for Colorado presented?
MM: Going through the verification process really helped us look at our client base in a different way, leading us to put KPIs in place around doing business with people who share our values. We realized that almost 45% of our current client base had an established CSR track record.
CB: What does success look like for you as it relates to the goals and expectations of Best for Colorado and your own corporate responsibility strategies?
MM: For us, success is about continuing the journey we started many years ago and standing with other companies who share our values and commitment to “business as a force for good.” As an organization with global resources in 95 countries, and part of an industry that could do better in its treatment of its people, we are focused on challenging the status quo and spreading the B Corp message across our global network. We hope to empower our people around the cause and connect our clients with a better experience in the process.