Business for good: a conversation about purpose with Sitback CEO, Chris McHugh
An interview with Sitback’s CEO, Chris McHugh, on Sitback’s Certified B Corporation Journey and information on Ethical Superannuation Alternatives.
As Sitback begins the process of becoming a Certified B Corporation (B Corp), we’ll produce regular articles sharing important updates on actions that have been taken to date, as well as the different ways Sitback team members can get involved in sustainability efforts.
For background, according to B Lab, Inc., “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”
Sitback’s CEO Chris McHugh has been kind enough to provide the following responses but notes that the thoughts below are his alone. We hope this series provides helpful transparency into Sitback’s decision to pursue B Corp status, and we welcome any questions or feedback you have on the process.
– Carl Brown, Interactive Experience Director at Sitback
What led you to identify becoming a B Corp as a goal for Sitback?
“Being a B Corp is about giving ourselves environmental goals and social goals for the business to work towards and achieve. For me, it’s about trying to make us a better business, a leader in our industry, and a leader for our team as well.
Initially, we’d been working towards the Best Place to Work award, and we achieved that for three years running. We also won NSW Employer of Choice and the Excellence in Business award from NSW Business Chamber. Achieving that feedback on having a great culture was fantastic, and it felt like the next step in achievement for us would be the B Corp certification.”
What has the process been like pursuing B Corp certification?
“The first step was identifying, as a leadership team, that this was something we were going to commit to. We then shared that at a company level, which added accountability to the commitment. Since then, we’ve been communicating what B Corp is, what the benefits are, why we’re working towards it, and how the team can get involved and engaged in that activity. We also took the step of setting up a B Corp steering committee with a representative from each team.
Organisations like Sitback can use the B Impact Assessment tool to get an initial evaluation that shows how you’re currently scoring, based on your business activities. That gave us a gap analysis as to what we need to be focusing on to improve our score. And so as a team, we’ve been meeting and working on some of the initial activities that will help boost our score.”
What are some of the activities Sitback has completed towards its B Corp certification?
“With B Corp, there are five different categories (specifically, governance, workers, community, environment and customers), and within that, there’s a lot you can do for your employees.
Some of the activities we’re looking at are salary banding, annual CPI increases, and profit-sharing. There’s also ensuring that you have success plans in place for each job description, and that you have performance reviews to give constant feedback to your team. You have to make sure you’re employing ethically so that you’re not biased based on race or gender. All of those things come down to making sure your work environment is ticking all of those hygiene boxes, and that you’re being fair and considerate of your team, in terms of their engagement with you as a business.
We’re also working towards becoming more environmentally conscious in the way we run our business. How can we improve, and how can we encourage our clients to do the same? And one step further is, how can we influence our community, within our industry, to be taking on some of the principles and standards that we identified for ourselves?”
How does ethical superannuation factor into Sitback’s B Corp journey?
“One of the questions asked in the B Corp process is, ‘do you have a default superannuation fund that’s ethically aligned?’ We realised that our default choice before, although they were not for profit, wasn’t necessarily ticking the box of ethical investing.
We initially started looking at ethical superannuation because we thought recommending more ethical options would be a quick win towards our B Corp status. Separately, we’ve been looking into contributing to the 1% for the Planet organisation, which encourages companies to donate 1% of their annual revenue to environmental causes. For us, that’s a big commitment from the business.
But we realised that, as a company that’s paying millions in salaries a year, that’s several hundred thousand dollars that’s going into a super contribution. Aligning that against more ethical investment options could have an even bigger impact than a one-time donation.”
What are some of the ethical super options you’ve identified?
“Our research has found a few options which we’ve narrowed down to two that we’d encourage team members to take a look at:
Whilst we can’t tell employees how or where to invest their super, we can educate them on how we see ethical super funds — and all of the other B Corp steps we’re taking — as a reflection of our company values of client focus, excellence, teamwork, learning, innovation, sustainability, and community.
Our vision as a company is, “To enable a world of effortless connection, meaningful engagement and positive social change by creating people-centric solutions that are respectful of our environment.” Educating our team around ethical super investments and encouraging them to opt for one of the options we have recommended is one way we can live and breathe our purpose a little bit more.”
Sitback Software Developer Stephen Gouldsbury has already made the transition to ethical super, having given the manager of his super funds the caveat that he won’t invest in fossil fuel industries. Speaking on his decision to pursue ethical super and other sustainable activities, Stephen notes that:
“Using your savings to invest in growing renewable industries is so important. I don’t think industries are going to change until they start to realise that money is moving away from traditional fossil fuel industries towards green industries and technologies.
Nearly all Australian super funds now offer a green option. You just need to check their website or speak to them. You can even spend 50/50 on a traditional investment portfolio and a green investment portfolio, or you can do the whole thing. Five years ago, green funds didn’t offer as good a return on investment. But now, performance isn’t an issue. Most ethical and green funds perform exactly the same as traditional alternatives — there are actually a couple that are performing better.”
In fact, global research agency Morningstar “examined 745 sustainable funds and compared them against 4,150 traditional funds, and found they matched or beat returns in all categories – whether bonds or shares, UK or abroad.” (source)
What does the B Corp journey mean to you, personally?
According to Chris McHugh:
“Becoming a B Corp may attract more clients if it helps them feel more aligned with us as an organisation, and that’s great. But a lot of it, for me, is about good leadership — being a better business, creating an impact, and leaving a legacy.
“Purpose is personal, but companies play a critical role in helping individuals express it.”
“The problems the world is facing at the minute feel very big, and we can all feel very insignificant and small in comparison to that. It’s easy to feel like you can’t have much of an impact as an individual.
But as an organisation, we can have so much more clout. We can rally together, we can influence other people, and we can use the revenue we make to invest in areas that make a difference. And suddenly we can actually do something that we’re proud of as individuals, and as an organisation.
Whether it’s getting behind ethical super funds or any of the other things that will come out of this process, becoming a B Corp helps us create something much bigger than ourselves that we can believe in and that’ll actually create positive change.”
B Corp Learning Library
To learn more about what it means for Sitback to become a B Corp, please take a look at the following resources: