How a Purpose-Driven Consulting Firm Took It Up Another Notch

Published May 28, 2019
Jen Coyne and Brian Stinson, Co-Founders of The Peak Fleet, getting ready for an open house during Design Week in their Portland office.

Jen Coyne and Brian Stinson, Co-Founders of The PEAK Fleet, getting ready for an open house during DesignWeek PDX in their Portland office.

Change is the new normal. Resilient, agile and adaptive organizations stay ahead of the competition. And while The PEAK Fleet co-founders Jen Coyne and Brian Stinson help prepare organizations for dealing effectively with such organizational change, they’ve also embraced a transformation of their own by becoming a certified Benefit Corporation for Good.

For the past 3 years, their firm has modeled the principles of the Triple Bottom Line of People, Planet and Profit. No doubt those values have been part of their careers and business from the get-go. And recently they felt the time was right to certify those values and practices through Benefit Corporations for Good.

We interviewed Jen Coyne recently about becoming a certified Oregon Benefit Company. Here’s what she had to say about it, her motivation for doing it and why it was right for her business.

1.  What motivated you to become a Benefit Company? We started The PEAK Fleet with the intention of being about Purpose even more so than Profit. We are striving to create engaged workforces that thrive together. For us, it’s about the People first. That’s why we started out of the gate with a triple-bottom line focus. Becoming a Benefit Company is the formal recognition of that for us.

2.  Was it difficult getting internal support for moving toward this model? We’re a small growing company right now. This was the perfect time to establish our principles, priorities, and practices aligning with being a Benefit Company. As we grow, we now have the framework in place to screen employees and contractors for alignment to a purpose, people, and planet-driven company.

3. How long did it take you to officially become a Benefit Company? When we started our business 3 years ago, we had many of the principles of Benefit Corporations for Good baked into our business model. So, the certification process was quick once we discovered BCFG and saw the value and differentiation in its certification process. It was a few weeks from that point to submitting our information and receiving official certification.

4. Have you seen any change in culture since you became a Benefit Company? I think the biggest reminder to us is that this is a living process that has to be embedded in the fabric of what we do every day. And, you make progress on things you set goals for and measure progress. So, we make sure that as part of our strategic vision and goals for the long-term, we include areas that specifically focus on Benefit Company considerations. We want it to be front of mind with progress measured frequently.

5. Have you experienced any positive outcomes since becoming a Benefit Company? We are fairly new to being certified, but the first unexpected outcome which is very positive is being part of a BCFG community. It’s wonderful to make connections with like-minded business leaders and support for each other’s businesses. I believe there are many more positive outcomes ahead of us because of our certification and connection to values-driven businesses.

6. Would you recommend this business model to others? Why or why not? One of the main reasons I recommend this business model to others is that not only is it the “right thing” to do, but research shows in the long run, you’ll have more success financially as well. Most importantly, it’s because of the sense of satisfaction and the joy of running a purpose- and people-driven company we get every day.

7. What is the most important trait to have as a conscientious leader of a Benefit Company? I think one of the most important traits of leadership is HUMILITY. It serves you well in realizing that your organization is but a small part of a larger system and you need to make decisions that support the greater good…of the environment…of society. Humility also ensures that you are always seeking diverse and different perspectives as you set a vision, strategy, and goals or solve problems. You realize you don’t have all the answers, or always the right ones, but combine that with a growth mindset, and you can transform yourself and the organization to do wonderful things for the world.

8. What lessons have you learned in the process? Through the assessment process, we learned how with small perspective changes and some small actions, we could have an even more significant impact to the triple-bottom line than we imagined. These things…the Three P’s of People, Planet and Profit, are definitely not mutually exclusive. Focusing effort on where we give back, and highlighting it in the right way, will bring rewards in terms of profits as well. In my experience, a business with a balanced approach wins out in the end.

9. Is being a Benefit Company part of your current brand message? YES! We have always promoted our “for purpose,” values-driven message and the fact that we provide discounted and free services for many non-profit organizations and schools. Now, we have an official certification that we are proud to promote! Our marketing materials now include the BCFG logo; it creates a common language understood across industries.

10. What is the single best reason you’d give for another company or peer to become a Benefit Company? It’s easy to say that it’s absolutely the right thing to do, and it gives you a sense of satisfaction. But the realities of business today are that we still have an uphill climb to change companies from a single “P” focus to the triple-bottom line. It’s great to be armed with the research around things like employee engagement which show evidence that focusing on people and the planet is also great for the financial bottom line.

If you want to know more about why your business should become a benefit corporation, watch this. If you want to understand the 6 simple steps to becoming an Oregon Benefit Company, go here.