Improving Your Company by Measuring What Matters

At Profitable Purpose Consulting, we’ve helped countless businesses achieve B Corp certification. And while all of them were doing good and committed to doing good, very few were tracking their good.

What are you measuring?

Businesses have always revolved around shareholder value and their KPIs (key performance indicators) have reflected that. Things like revenue, profit, units/hours sold, margin/unit, sales, pipeline, retention, and more determine the success of the business. And as Milton Friedman ingrained in us, businesses exist to make money for their shareholders, nothing more, nothing less. 

So when we sit down with companies, even those seeking B Corp certification, most of them are still stuck in this old way of thinking: KPIs are for profit and loss statement related metrics. As we dive into the B Impact Assessment, they are pressed to answer questions about employee demographics, % of revenue donated in volunteer hours and pro bono products or services, and greenhouse gas emissions, among many others. 

And more often than not, the results aren’t what the company wanted to see or as impactful as what they thought they were doing. Because they weren’t tracking these items, the numbers aren’t always where they desired them to be.

Simply put, if you aren’t measuring your culture and your impact, you can’t improve them.

  • How do you drive a 10% increase of a metric you aren’t sure of and can’t quantify? What would success look like?
  • How do we get from 1% of revenue donated via volunteer time and pro bono/in-kind time/product to 2% of revenue when we don’t actually know if we’re even at 1% yet?
  • How do we drive internal diversity if we aren’t tracking the demographics of our applicant pool, interviews, and job acceptions?
Don’t ask this guy for the answers. He doesn’t know either.

These are just a few of the examples, but the list is extensive. And this is why the B Corp certification stands out as the gold standard of corporate social responsibility. Just going through these questions forces companies to quantify important items, and that forces them to think about continuous tracking, goal-setting for improvement, and accountability.

With all of the reasons for certifying, from recruiting and retaining Gen Z and millennials to differentiating your brand from the competition, being able to use data to tell your story and drive improvement that matters starts with measuring all of the right data. Sales, revenue, and profit matter (no profit, no purpose), but so do your stakeholder KPIs–and you can’t improve what you aren’t measuring, so measure what matters.

Nathan Stuck is the Founder and CEO of Profitable Purpose Consulting, which helps companies deepen their commitment to using business as a force for good using the B Impact Assessment to improve their impact. He also serves as the founder and chair of B Local Georgia and teaches an MBA course on B Corps at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.