B-Corps and the Triple Bottom Line, with Jessica Thomas and Eric Henry

On today’s episode, Jessica Thomas and Eric Henry give us the inside information on B-Corps, which Jessica describes as, “the leading edge of a sustainable business movement – businesses that are really innovating when it comes to social and environmental impact and really positively impacting stakeholders across the board.”  But what does all that mean?  And how does NC State, Poole College and the B-Corp Clinic, create a roadmap to guide and educate students on positive social impact?

Jessica Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Practice and the Director of the Business Sustainability Collaborative at Poole College. Jessica has over 15 years of experience working domestically and internationally in sustainable enterprise, social innovation, and business development.

Eric Henry is the Founder and President of TS Designs, the first certified B Corp and North Carolina.


Jenny: Jessica, let’s start with you. As mentioned in your intro, among your many roles and responsibilities, one of them is the director of the Business Sustainability Collaborative, or the BSC, here in Poole college. For those that are not familiar with this, do you mind providing us a 30,000-foot view of what it is?

Jessica: Absolutely Jenny. So, when I joined NC State Poole College a little over seven years ago, my goal was to build the leading academic institution focused on studying, and teaching around business sustainability, and I believe we’ve done just that with BSC. We decided about five years ago to focus our work on studying B corporations.

And you’re going to learn a lot more about B Corps over the course of this conversation. I like to think of them as really the leading edge of a sustainable business movement, businesses that are really innovating when it comes to social and environmental impact and really positively impacting stakeholders across the board.

And so, we have built, I think, a really innovative forward-looking program, that’s preparing our students to use business as a force for good, with that B Corp framework, with that B Corp model as a roadmap or as a guide for us to really educate and inspire our students to think about what does it mean to have a positive social impact.

And so, we are building innovative programs like the B Corp clinic. we’re engaging with thought leaders and innovators like Eric Henry from TS Designs, and we’re doing cutting edge research that I think will really help inform the business community as increasingly we’re seeing a need for businesses to focus, not just on financial viability, but to also focus on social and environmental issues as well.

Jenny: Thank you, Jessica. I think that’s helpful. It lays the foundation for the conversation for sure. Eric, I’m curious, we mentioned this in your intro, certainly the NAFTA agreement was very influential in kind of how you’ve made decisions for your organization. But can you walk us through why you made some of those early decisions and your company’s existence to invest in more than just the bottom line? 

Eric: Thank you, Jenny. And I don’t know if you know this about me, but actually started my business in 1978 when I was a student at NC State.

Full Episode Transcript

The Poole Podcast is hosted by Jenny Hammond, and is a production of Earfluence.

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