Here at the Center for Social Impact Learning, the student group M Force recently hosted panelists to give fellow students, community business leaders and interested individuals the opportunity to learn more about B Lab, where the B Corps Movement is heading, and most importantly how to get involved. We had the pleasure of sitting down one-on-one with the panelists and are happy to introduce the first, Craig Dalen, here.
Craig Dalen is a Senior Fellow in B Lab’s inaugural cohort of B Corps Fellows. Over 400 applicants applied for 12 final spots as fellows, divided into six young professionals and six senior professionals. Ten of the fellows are currently focusing on the Best for NYC partnership between New York’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and B Lab, which challenges local businesses to take the B Impact Assessment, maps the impact created and highlights the top achievers.
Craig, himself, is based in Pennsylvania at B Lab’s Main Office and, along with another fellow Jasmine Jones, focuses on the B Corps on Campus initiative. He and the team are crafting a strategic path forward to engage education meaningfully and effectively as part of the B Corps movement. They are finding ways to support extracurricular experiences, such as ways to engage members of our CSIL student group, M Force, or student chapters of Net Impact across the country. Furthermore, they are deciding how best to support faculty members with curriculum development. Craig elaborates in the interview below.
Tell us about yourself and how you became involved with B Corps
Most recently I was the Director of Sustainability at Messiah College and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to launch the Messiah’s Office of Sustainability. This project largely came from listening to students who drove the effort by pushing the college to take into account its environmental footprint across the campus. I was so happy with what we were able to achieve through the Office and have enjoyed seeing the efforts continued as I transition to new positions.
As an educator at Messiah College, I taught about B Corps in my classes and we often discussed the role of the private sector in finding the solution for current world issues. As I looked forward in my career, I was interested in moving into the private sector and knew I would like to be involved in positive ways such as part of the B Corps movement. Professional fellowships that are salaried and allow you to use your experience are few and far between, so the B Corps Fellowship was already compelling in that way, but I was simultaneously asking myself to what degree I can be of most service and what it takes to lead a meaningful life. Inspired by B Lab harnessing the power of business to cultivate the right solutions to current problems, I am so happy to be part of the inaugural cohort of fellows. In general, being involved with B Lab and its community has been simply amazing; I’ve learned so much from colleagues and from business leaders. I recently joined the B Lab Champions Retreat in Portland Oregon and it was an invigorating experience. These relationships are where I find the most value.
What does B Corps on Campus hope to achieve?
The ultimate goal is to help support efforts that inspire the next generation to use business as a force for good. B Lab is currently inspiring companies to do business differently and to be oriented towards their “best for the world” achievement, but we also want to focus more on bridge-building to formally connect our movement to the interests and activities that already exist on campuses and in communities. We are always looking to collaborate with students and faculty who have insight or suggestions on ways we can support campus activities and I encourage them to reach out because they are the people that we want to learn from directly. Ideally we can use the resources and structures that B Lab and these schools currently have in place. We want to know how students and faculty are already integrating social enterprise and impact assessment education on various campuses and then find ways that we can enhance the experience or effectiveness through cooperation with what B Lab already has to offer.
What does impact mean to you?
I’ll answer this with a story. While studying business as an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Latin America and spent six week on a coffee farm in Guatemala. I was there to learn about the business but I spent my time with the farmers. I lived where they lived, shopped where they shopped and was paid the same wages as them. I was able to immerse myself in a profound way and quickly understood how little they are paid and how difficult it is to stretch that money given the cost of living.
At the time, over fifteen years ago, there was no language to explain what I was experiencing, but it was the first time I was able to feel the difference between shareholder benefits and stakeholder benefits. The shareholders were benefiting very well and they were happy. The stakeholders on the other hand, were not benefiting as they should have and I understood them because I was experiencing their experiences. It was then that I knew the system was wrong and I know now that B Lab’s vision of creating a “shared and durable prosperity for all” is language I was searching for fifteen years ago during my experience on the coffee farm in Guatemala. Impact is taking into consideration stakeholders; it is valuing humanity and our interconnections and how small our world has become to realize that we are no longer separate and we can no longer neglect the experiences of certain stakeholders.
The reality is, business is the most powerful human made system on the earth, and harnessing it for good is a must. We know today that profit and purpose can co-exist. B Lab is building the infrastructure to hold those two intentions in concert together and they are creating universal standards so that performance is evaluated and held transparent. It’s an act of solidarity to be part of this experience and I am confident that I’ve found my tribe at B Lab.
Invitation to Students
B Lab welcomes student input regarding the B Corps on Campus initiative. B Lab wants to know how they can be of service to students. They want to know what students themselves want from B Lab and to find a path to work together as part of the B Corps movement.
Follow B Lab: @bcorporation #bestfornyc
Inspired? Interested in becoming a B Corps Fellow?
B Lab will begin recruiting this month, so keep an eye out!