The Best for Colorado community has demonstrated immense resilience and care during this difficult time and we couldn’t be more appreciative. Here are five Best for Colorado companies that we’d like to highlight:

1.  Montanya Distillers

To help support frontline institutions like, hospital, senior care centers and doctors’ offices, Montanya Distillers, an American rum company, has pivoted their production to make an antiviral surface sanitizer! The distillery is collaborating with the Gunnison County Incident Command Center to distribute the sanitizer to those most in need in their community. In a recent blog post on their webpage they explained, “we believe it’s our duty and responsibility to do what we can to help our community navigate this challenging and uncertain time.”

2.    Ship Sunshine

Every month Ship Sunshine picks a cause to support, and next month’s will be nurses and teachers! Sending these critical workers care packages and giveaways is their way of showing their appreciation and spreading a little sunshine to those who need it most during this difficult time. Ship Sunshine offers a carefully curated collection of gift boxes designed to brighten anyone’s day and you can also build your own gift box on their website. With so many of us needing a little extra care and thought during this turbulent time, Ship Sunshine is definitely helping spread some joy.

3.  Simple Switch

During this time the world has scrambled to online shopping platforms.What makes Simple Switch different from other platforms is their commitment to ethics, labor laws and environmental impact. Their collection of ethical products ensures that your purchase directly makes a positive impact, spanning from environmental innovations to supporting development projects. Lately, they’ve been offering discounts to encourage people to shop online rather than leave their homes. If you’re looking for an alternative to Amazon, for an ecologically and socially conscious e-commerce website, consider Switch Switch. 

4.  Phunkshun Wear

Phunkshun Wear normally manufactures ski masks out of plastic water bottles. Right now, they’re committed to doing their part to slow the spread of coronavirus by donating a mask to the Colorado Mask Project for every mask purchased. Using a mask like theirs can help Colorado communities protect themselves against the spread of the virus, while simultaneously helping ensure that medical workers face no shortage of N95 masks. Governor Jared Polis even appeared on television, wearing a Phunkshun Wear Colorado branded personal hygiene mask, encouraging all Coloradans to wear non-medical protective masks outdoors. 

Upslope Brewing Company was started by three friends chasing a passion for outdoor adventure. The company’s craft beers are meant to be enjoyed on the mountain, in a creek or along the trailhead.

The company’s enthusiasm for the outdoors inspires their initiatives to use less, waste less and conserve more. From partnerships with organizations like Trout Unlimited 1% for RiversLeave No Trace and Protect our Winters to conscientious production practices and packaging choices, Upslope is leading a movement of breweries committed to brewing better as a certified B Corporation.

Lauren Farkas with Best for Colorado spoke with Elizabeth Waters, Sustainability Coordinator at Upslope, to learn more about the company’s movement.

Best for Colorado: Can you give me a quick elevator pitch for Upslope Brewing? What do you do, how long have you been around and what differentiates you in the marketplace?

Elizabeth Waters: Upslope Brewing Company was founded in 2008 in Boulder. From the beginning, outdoor recreation and conservation has been baked into our culture and brand. For instance, we chose to package our beer in cans [rather than bottles] to align with the outdoor lifestyle, and because aluminum cans are the most recyclable packaging option.

Upslope places great importance on treating employees well, using environmental resources efficiently and giving back to our community. I think those things set us apart. And now, with our B Corp certification, those strengths are more easily communicated to our customers.

BFCO: How did sustainability emerge as a priority within the organization? 

EW: Since its founding, Upslope has prioritized supporting environmental conservation through longstanding partnerships with environmental nonprofits whose causes we care deeply about.

Additionally, we’ve always managed our operations with an eye toward economic and environmental efficiency. A few years ago, we decided to start measuring the environmental performance of our production facilities with the understanding there is always room for improvement. Since then, we’ve made sure to carve out the requisite time to stay on top of that continual measurement and improvement.

BFCO: Many impressive metrics are detailed online and in your sustainability report. Can you mention a few of Upslope’s eco-conscious practices?

EW: Compared to other breweries our size, Upslope operates quite efficiently in [regard to] water and energy use. Much of this can be attributed to the purchase and proper maintenance of efficient equipment. For instance, we have a very efficient boiler, which accounts for the majority of the natural gas we use. We’ve installed water sub-meters throughout our process that allow us to isolate specific improvement areas. Also, we’re in the process of installing electrical submeters.

BFCO: Where or how do you think Upslope is having the largest, most positive impact?

EW: I think that Upslope’s biggest potential for impact lies in partnership and education. We alone can’t do all that much to affect change. But when we work with organizations like Trout Unlimited, Leave No Trace, Eco-Cycle and Best for Colorado to increase awareness of and engagement in environmental issues, our impact grows exponentially. 

BFCO: Of all the initiatives Upslope is leading, which one makes you the proudest?

EW: I am, personally, most proud of our B Corp certification. It assesses all of our environmental programming and looks at our impact on our community and employees. Upslope is such a wonderful place to work and does so much for its employees. I think that pursuing B Corp reinforces that and draws connections between employee, community and environmental wellbeing in a way that makes sense and is tangible

BFCO: What is most rewarding and challenging in regard to your B Corp certification? What areas are you most concentrated on right now and why?

EW: Over the last few months we’ve been primarily focused on planning our B Corp recertification strategy. The assessment got a lot more challenging this year, and we have a lot of work to do. It’s very exciting and will definitely take a concerted effort to achieve. 

BFCO: What recommendations do you have for microbreweries interested in starting their sustainability journey but don’t know where to start? 

EW: I always recommend that breweries begin by benchmarking their performance with the Brewers’ Association’s Sustainability Benchmarking Tool. It’s such a great way to get an initial snapshot of how you are performing against other similarly sized breweries as well as the potential savings associated with improvement. 

BFCO: Why is Best for Colorado programming important for your organization’s CSR efforts?

EW: As I mentioned earlier, we believe strongly in the importance of partnerships. We value being a part of the Best for Colorado community, and it’s been such a wonderful resource for us over the past couple of years. We have much to learn from other participating companies and hope to offer help where we can.

Best for Colorado is a program of The Alliance Center. It allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey. Best for Colorado offers programming and tools for all Colorado companies, including B Corps, to improve their practices and connect participating companies with local resources, education and support

Lauren Farkas was the programs assistant at The Alliance Center.

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.

Megan A. James Photography strives to be an example of what a business can do for the community. Megan James has been photographing for seven years and donates 20% of her revenue to charities. Of the donations, half is donated to the client’s charity of choice while the remaining portion is donated to the ALS Association for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research. Because of this philanthropy and more, the photography company has been a B Corporation for four years now and an honoree on the Best for The World Community List in 2018 and 2019.

Lauren FarkasCan you expand on your give back contribution commitment? What was the inspiration for this?

Megan James: I was first inspired to donate back to nonprofits in 2013. Moore, Oklahoma was shattered by an F-5 tornado and left the town in shreds. The storm ripped apart the town’s elementary school, which sparked an initiative in me to do more than just take photos. I have kids and the whole situation was heart-wrenching. I held a day of photography where all the revenue went directly to disaster relief in the community. At that point, I realized I wanted to continue this journey.

LF: What inspired you to take the step and go through the B Corp certification?

MJ: I’ll be honest, I really didn’t know about much about B Corp initially. My husband went to one of their meetings, and I think Kim Coupounas was speaking. He came home very inspired and told me how companies in the B Corp community have the same initiatives as I do.

I love my job and being a photographer, but I also feel pulled to do something more. When my husband came home suggesting I get involved, I started doing more research. I realized that I was already aligned with the values of B Corps. It sounded like a community I would love to join and be with other like-minded individuals.

LF: You are a solo entrepreneur, Certified B Corp and a Best for Colorado company and have been honored as Best for the World. What does this mean to you?

MJ: When I was honored as Best for the World, I was shocked. I am a sole proprietor working alongside some of huge corporations that are also B Corps, so it was unexpected. After I had a moment to evaluate and take it all in, I experienced a huge moment of pride and realized I am making a difference and other people recognize it.  

Even people outside of the B Corp world were talking about it. They see how others are making a difference beyond their community, and it inspires others. I have spoken to many other potential B Corps and have helped them realize that even through small business, we can achieve so much. 

LF: What would you tell those who think they are just one person and they can’t make a difference?

MJ: Within the B Community, I have had a few people question my legitimacy, my B Corp status and almost look down on me. I have utilized my achievements to show other small businesses that even through being a sole proprietor, we can make a huge impact on local and nationwide communities. 

I tell them that even though they might only be one person, there is always a ripple effect regardless if it’s one person or 500 people. By being a sole proprietor, you can pave your own path and not have to go through some of the formalities or restrictions you might face within big corporations.

LF: Do you have any remarks you’d like to close with?

MJ: For me, regardless of my photography, the bottom line is I have a heavy emotional connection to people in need. I love what I do, but I love impacting the community even more.

Best for Colorado is a program of The Alliance Center. It allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey. Best for Colorado offers programming and tools for all Colorado companies, including B Corps, to improve their practices and connect participating companies with local resources, education and support.

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.