“It’s an awesome moment to be mentioned in the same breath as the Ben and Jerrys of the world, the ones we believe to have it altogether; at the same time, it can be done at any level. You just have to make the decision,” said founding partner Matt Symes in an interview.
Based in Halifax and Moncton, Symplicity Designs was recognized for the changemakers category, which is awarded to B Corps who have improved the most, with improvement scores ranking in the top 20 per cent.
Overall, around 1,200 B Corps from 44 countries were named to the 2019 Best For The World lists, including Patagonia and TOMS.
The recognition places Symplicity Designs, which helps companies and organizations improve, innovate, scale and grow, in the top 10 per cent of all certified B Corps.
“This is more of a recognition that we continue to fight the good fight, do it for the right reasons for the right people. And internally, [our ethos is] driven on people, planet and profit,” said Symes, who noted that profit is a necessary vehicle to create change.
“We strongly believe in a triple bottom-line ethos, but it starts with a good sustainable foundation and a good profitable organization that then can be the best for the world.”
Symplicity Designs earned the honour because after becoming a certified B Corp, it used the B Impact Assessment as a tool to seek out more ways to boost their impact. B Lab also assessed the company’s practices and policies as they relate to community service and charity, including whether their product or service is designed to solve a social issue.
Now in its seventh year of operation, the company built those values into its business model from the beginning, Symes said. That means, running the business can have its challenges and sometimes it has to say no to certain opportunities.
“It’s a hard game running and owning a business and it’s really hard to scale a business. And I think that a lot of business owners would be well served by taking a step back in asking themselves what kind of impact do they want to have on this world, because when you decide to start a business and grow a business, you’re starting and growing a micro culture and you’re driving a movement, whichever way you do that,” Symes said.
“What we do is make the machine go better and faster with less resources. So we made a conscious decision from the beginning to do it for the right people for the right reasons, which we found really easy in theory, but in practice really quite difficult. Because the people who need help making their products better are varied.”
For instance, when a company selling sugary drinks approached Symplicity Designs for help with sales, Symes had to turn them down.
“I may enjoy one of their drinks from time to time, that’s my choice as an adult, but I’m not sure that we should be marketing and selling that to younger generations,” he said. “This is a conscious decision to be good for the new economy.”
Importantly, Symplicity Designs believes in driving change in sectors within society that needs the support, like education and healthcare, and supporting organizations that are best served to do that. The New Brunswick Department of Education and the IWK Foundation are two of the company’s key clients.
A lot of the company’s work with the social sector is done at a lower price rate or pro-bono, Symes said.
But he said there’s still a lot of work to do.
“I’m excited about this recognition but at the same time, this world and us still have a long way to go,” he added. “I hope that business owners start to look at this because our environment needs it and our people need it. We can connect people, planet and profit if we just design it that way.”
September 18, 2020