By Lisa Taylor
In 2023, Challenge Factory became a Certified B Corporation. This accomplishment is difficult to achieve and requires taking a social impact lens when we consider how our business decisions will affect our employees, supply chains, community, interest holders, governance, and the environment.
Although we have always worked collaboratively, this has led to even broader consultation and transparency as our entire team engages in new ways to make critical business decisions. Here are two examples of how being a B Corp affects day-to-day business situations at Challenge Factory.
Business issue #1
Is Twitter (now known as X) a Challenge Factory distribution channel and part of our supply chain?
Twitter was one of our most successful ways to disseminate resources and build our reach beyond the Greater Toronto Area or Canadian community that knows of us through direct interaction. For some time, however, we had become concerned about the increasingly toxic nature of the social media platform. When Twitter ended moderation, we saw an alarming increase in hate-filled posts in our personal and corporate feeds.
As a team, we used the five B Corp impact categories to assess our use of the platform. Immediately, we found the unfiltered content on Twitter was having a negative impact on our employees. From there, we considered Twitter as a distribution channel, like any other in our supply chain. We agreed that if it were a brick-and-mortar store, we would not sell in or buy from it. It was increasingly dividing people into communities united by negativity rather than providing the foundation for building community and understanding. On November 12, 2022, we paused posting and shifted our focus to LinkedIn. Unless significant changes are made to the platform, we won’t be returning.
No social media platform is perfect. But creating the environment for our team to discuss concerns and apply a values-based approach to the broader impact of supporting various partners, technology providers, and platforms has been good for our team members, culture, and company. To be sure, we’ve missed out on opportunities to engage—many organizations still tag our Twitter handle when sharing our resources or including us in discussions. But we connect offline with many of those organizations and work to maintain or deepen our relationships.
Business issue #2
Do we help advance better employment and career supports in a region where it’s much needed if the work involves validating a government with a poor human and civil rights record?
A member of our extended international career development network recommended Challenge Factory for a piece of work that included validating a government’s ongoing efforts to advance the employment and career supports it provides to citizens. This work would be done on behalf of the ruling regime in a region where reform is needed to how it provides equitable and accessible career supports to everyone. There’s no question that the work already underway is of high quality.
This situation may initially seem simple, but it’s actually quite complex. As a team, we explored the implications of this work and ultimately determined that it was not a project we could undertake. B Lab’s guide for navigating controversial or high-risk issues was very useful.
Specifically, we found the core issue to be the nature of providing validation to human rights violators. As B Lab’s guide explained, “Companies that serve governments with ties to human rights violations are controversial due to the potential for their products or services to be misused in ways that either directly perpetuate or are complicit in such violations.”
Even after we decided not to pursue the work, a new dilemma emerged. Challenge Factory is all too familiar with employment and careers work being done by professionals who lack formal career development expertise. Although we chose not to accept this project, it would still be completed by someone else. As a result, we felt an obligation to ensure that whoever took it had a solid foundation in career development and would be able to apply best practices and quality approaches to properly serve the jobseekers who would access the new employment systems and tools. We referred the project to others within our network, and left it to them to decide if this was work they wished to undertake.
The project is a complex, multi-year transformation. Also, it would have been a first engagement with a new partner who works mainly outside North America. Challenge Factory has goals to expand over the next few years and this project could have been a great way to collaborate and grow. In referring the work to others and explaining how our B Corp status and values impacted our decision-making, we kept the door open for future collaborations and look forward to conversations in the coming months.
Business as a force for good
In sharing a behind-the-scenes look at how our team makes critical business decisions, we invite you to share your own challenges with us. Challenge Factory is growing—and much of that growth comes from referrals and partnerships. We have exciting new collaborations on the horizon with the Centre for Social Innovation, National Institute on Ageing, CERIC, True Patriot Love, and many other public, non-profit, and private sector organizations.
If you or someone you know is looking for a collaborative, credible partner to tackle today’s most challenging workforce issues, let’s find a time to talk. Send us an email at Consulting@ChallengeFactory.ca.