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Business Doing Good: Five Takeaways from BLD NW 2024

Three women (two Black, one white) on a panel at a conference

Earlier this month, I attended BLD Pacific Northwest, a conference for Certified B Corporations* and anyone interested in using business as a force for good.

With a background in sustainability and corporate citizenship, I found it exhilarating to meet local leaders committed to creating an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.

I haven’t become a B-Corp yet, but much of the process intersects with sustainability reporting, which I worked on at CH2M HILL. Each year we set goals, tracked progress, and reported our results in a comprehensive, data-driven report that conformed to Global Reporting Index indicators. B-Corps recertify every three years.

When I started my business, I created a corporate social responsibility statement, and my second podcast was about “Companies That Care.” So BLD people are my people.

Here are five takeaways from BLD 2024:

  • Volunteering is a great way to step in. I often miss working as part of a team. I saw a call for BLD volunteers, so I joined the communications team and made some new connections. Volunteering got me in the door!

  • Putting myself out there is worth it. As a shy extrovert, I don’t find cold networking to be easy, and I was nervous on the way to the event. BLD made it easy to connect in many small breakout groups. Sitting at a table with Portland State graduate students, I learned about their Net Impact program, which supports student sustainability stewards and professionals. I also participated in a powerful breakout session discussing who is missing in the B community.

  • DEI values are far from dead. The B Local PDX team takes its commitment seriously to center underrepresented voices. Most of the day’s speakers were people of color, starting with the dynamic emcee Camille E. Trummer. Keynote speaker Se-ah-dom Edmo shared the amazing work of Seeding Justice, which funds grassroots movements working to dismantle injustices. Our final panel led by Dr. Keecha Harris, “Racial Equity is Still Good for Business,” called on business to do good and fix the problems it has caused for historically excluded people and communities. Of all the large conferences I’ve attended, BLD 2024 receives the best score for intersectional voices.

  • You never know what can happen when you’re open to surprises.

    • Surprise #1: While waiting for food, I was sharing about my podcast with emcee Camille Trummer, when the woman across from me in the food line said, “You interviewed my husband on your podcast.” She was social justice activist and writer Kerala Taylor, who I connected with during the BLM protests in 2020. We’ve been Facebook friends since then, and I interviewed her husband Dr. Ronnie Taylor in 2022. I was delighted to meet her in person!

    • Surprise #2: I won the grand raffle prize, a fun collection of rainbow-hued products from cotopaxi, which makes 96% of its products with leftover deadstock, recycled, or certified responsible materials.

Two white women standing in front of a background that says "B Hive"
Surprise #1: Meeting Kerala Taylor

Assortment of shirts, bags, backpack in multiple colors
Grand raffle prize: fun goods from cotopaxi
  • Beautiful, nourishing food makes people happy. As a plant-based eater, I always cautiously approach large gatherings. Will they have plant-based options I can enjoy? I needn’t have worried, as B-Corp Elephants Delicatessen and Brew Dr. Kombucha had me covered with beautiful veggie fare. I even took some yummy leftovers (roasted veggies and a curried chickpea sandwich) home to extend the joy.

Plate with roasted veggies and salad and kombucha from Brew Dr.
BLD NW 2024 lunch from Elephants' Deli

I believe business in the right hands has the power to change the world. BLD NW gave me hope, knowing that others still care about making the world a better place by doing the right thing.

*B Corp Certification is a business that meets high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from social and environmental performance, legal accountability, and transparency.

Let me know if you can use help with communications, marketing, small business coaching, or leadership.

I help professional services firms and organizations avoid BORING and boost employee engagement, productivity, and readership. I translate technical, complex, and lackluster language into accessible, dynamic, story-driven text.

Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified woman-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.


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