Cabot, Vt. (August 27, 2012) – Cabot Creamery is the first dairy cooperative to achieve B Corporation Certification, a validation of its attention to environmental and social impacts on stakeholders. Cabot joins a growing legion of successful cooperatives, fellow Northeast organizations and forward-thinking national brands that have been certified by the non-profit, B Lab. The announcement of Cabot’s certification coincides with the updated release of its popular Reward Volunteers app, a collaborative effort to promote community development through volunteerism.
Certified B Corporations are businesses around the globe that meet rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. B Lab, a non-profit organization based in Berwyn, Penn., uses its B Impact Assessment to certify B Corps much the same way Fair Trade USA certifies Fair Trade® coffee or the U.S. Green Building Council certifies LEED® buildings.
Among the nearly 600 leading businesses certified as B Corps are a variety of cooperatives including Cooperative Home Care Associates and the National Cooperative Grocers Association. Other well-known B Corps include Seventh Generation and King Arthur Flour, both based in Vermont, as well as national brands including Method, Dansko and Patagonia.
“Cabot’s B Corporation Certification is an important third-party validation of our business practices,” says Dr. Richard Stammer, Cabot CEO. “These practices include governance by our farmer owners, the environmental impact we have on the land, how we treat our employees, and how we support the communities where we live, work and sell our products.”
One of the recent cornerstones of Cabot’s social innovation is its Reward Volunteers program – a computer widget and free mobile app for iPhone that enables individuals and organizations to track the time they spend volunteering in their communities. Volunteers use the app and widget to earn rewards for their volunteer efforts – improving the lives and communities they serve and inspiring friends on Facebook to do the same. Cabot launched Reward Volunteers 1.0 in February of this year. The program was a huge success as volunteers from 46 states logged more than 44,000 hours of service at more than 800 organizations in just six months. Reward Volunteers 2.0 is now launched and Cabot hopes to more than double its effectiveness in the second phase of the program.
“Reward Volunteers is a terrific program and a great example that when people support B Corps, they are supporting a better way of doing business,” says Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab. “By helping to grow the community of B Corporations, Cabot is giving people more opportunities to reward something positive.”
Other examples from the community of B Corps include recently certified Cooperative Home Care Associates, the South Bronx-based owner home care agency. Founded in 1985 to provide quality home care to clients by providing quality jobs for paraprofessionals, CHCA now anchors a national cooperative network generating revenue of over $60 million annually and creating 1600 quality jobs.
Another leading B Corp is National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). Founded in 1999, NCGA is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the U.S. Its 120 members and associate co-ops operate over 150 storefronts in 33 states with combined annual sales over $1.3 billion. NCGA has been a B Corp since 2011.
B Lab’s approach to addressing systemic business challenges goes hand-in-hand with the seven guiding principles of cooperatives: 1) Voluntary and Open Membership, 2) Democratic Member Control, 3) Member Economic Participation, 4) Autonomy and Independence, 5) Education, Training and Information, 6) Cooperation among Cooperatives and, 7) Concern for Community. Cabot aspires to operate according to these principles and is proud of a cooperative heritage that dates back to 1919.
Liz Bailey, Interim President/CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) who recently led a contingent of 150 U.S. cooperative community leaders to the White House, says, “In this economic downturn, more Americans are recognizing the benefits of cooperative ownership and business. Not only do cooperatives offer consumers affordable choices but also they provide a trusted source of goods and services.”
Nearly one-third of Americans belong to a consumer cooperative and 72 percent consider cooperatives like credit unions or electric co-ops helpful. “That’s a strong base of trust from the American public, and we want to build on it,” Bailey says.
There are currently 29,000 cooperative businesses nationwide spanning most industries, including agriculture, energy, financial service and credit unions, food distribution, healthcare, housing, retail and telecommunications. U.S. cooperatives alone account for more than $3 trillion in assets, over $500 billion in total revenue and $25 billion in wages and benefits.
In the spirit of “Cooperation among Cooperatives,” Cabot took the lead nationally to celebrate the UN’s International Year of Cooperatives through a unique program called the 2012 Community Tour. The two-month journey began May 12th in Miami, Fla., and followed the East Coast Greenway with stops in eight major markets to celebrate volunteers, community and cooperatives, culminating with a huge grand finale in Portland, Maine, on July 7th, the International Day of Cooperatives. The Community Tour featured eight weekend events and special smaller events each weekday from start to finish.
“The 2012 Community Tour was our way of celebrating our cooperative roots, recognizing countless volunteers for all they do to make the world a better place to live, and to celebrate and thank the communities that support our farmer-owners every time they purchase a Cabot product,” says Roberta MacDonald, Senior Vice President of Marketing. “Volunteerism is a key part of who we are. Our farm-family owners are volunteer firefighters, scoutmasters and town moderators. They serve on school boards and in soup kitchens and food banks. They understand that volunteering helps make our nation the best it can be. So we strive to recognize volunteers for all the good they do, and in turn, encourage others to give freely of their time, too.”
This September, Cabot is hosting its third Community Celebrity Cruise. This program honors people who give their time to make lives better in their local communities. These unheralded “celebrities” are selected by radio stations and volunteer organizations from around the nation. On board, they spend time with like-minded volunteers, relax and re-energize so they return to their communities to do even more for their respective causes with new perspectives and connections.
“Cooperatives are a powerful ownership model but that’s only one aspect of a company’s impact,” says B Lab’s Coen Gilbert. “By achieving B Corp certification and through initiatives like Reward Volunteers, The Community Tour, and Community Celebrity Cruise, Cabot challenges itself and other cooperatives to measure what matters and improve their impact in every way from community service and employee engagement to environmental stewardship.”
About Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Cabot Creamery Cooperative has been in continuous operation in Vermont since 1919, and makes a full line of cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, and butter. Best known as makers of “The World’s Best Cheddar,” Cabot is owned by 1200 dairy farm families located throughout New England and upstate New York. For information on Cabot Creamery, please visit: http://www.cabotcheese.coop. To learn more about Cabot’s Sustainability program, please visit: http://www.cabotcheese.coop/sustain.
About B Lab
B Lab is a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Lab drives systemic change through three interrelated initiatives: 1) building a community of Certified B Corporations to make it easier for all of us to tell the difference between “good companies” and just good marketing; 2) accelerating the growth of impact investing through use of B Lab’s GIIRS impact ratings and analytics platform; and 3) passing benefit corporation legislation in all fifty states. For more information, see www.bcorporation.net.
About Cooperative Home Care Associates
Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) is a nationally recognized, South Bronx-based owner home care agency. Founded in 1985 to provide quality home care to clients by providing quality jobs for paraprofessionals, CHCA now anchors a national cooperative network generating over $60 million annually in revenue and creating quality jobs for over 1600 individuals. http://www.chcany.org/.
About National Cooperative Grocers Association
National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCGA helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 120 members and associate co-ops operate over 150 storefronts in 33 states with combined annual sales over $1.3 billion. NCGA is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence in recognition of the application of cooperative values and principles to drive cooperative and business success. For a map of NCGA member and associate co-ops, visit www.ncga.coop. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop or www.go.coop.