Featured B Corp of the Month: UpSpring and How They Are Bringing Sustainability to Their Clients

We’re big supporters of the principles behind the B Corp movement, but we want to do more than just "spread the love" about it, we want to share the sustainability success stories from other B Corps!  Each month we’ll be publishing an interview with a sustainability champion of a B Corp – and this month we are featuring UpSpring!

UpSpring is a boutique management-consulting firm, based in Santa Fe, NM supporting the design, growth and measurement of mission-driven, market leveraging, and values-based ventures throughout the U.S. and around the world.  They are a certified HubZone small business and a "B Corporation," the first one in New Mexico. Upspring's values-driven expertise generates ‘triple bottom line’ returns, enhancing people, profit, and place. UpSpring brings a circle of seasoned experts across sectors to affordably solve the problems faced by the next generation of leaders building effective businesses and organizations.

What made your company decide that sustainability was a priority?

Sustainability has been a part of our company since its founding in 2007. This has been core to our products/services – consulting to leverage the power of the marketplace for good (see upspringassociates.com for more).

It is also central to our corporate practices. For example, we donate 1% of our gross revenue to charities working to make the world a better place; we maximize recycling and composting in our office; and we go out of our way to source supplies from local vendors – even if it costs a bit more.

Sustainability was the reason to start this firm instead of staying with other consulting practices, to ensure that we really were ‘doing well by doing good’ and that our efforts led to a better tomorrow for financial, social/community, and environment improvements.

What is your company's greatest sustainability accomplishment to date?

We are very proud of our B Corporation score of 124 (bcorporation.net) for which we have been recognized twice as a Best for the World Small Business. In 2012, we were a Sustainable Business of the Year Honoree.  

One of the most comprehensive things we did (which took a year) is to change our corporate charter to include sustainability elements ‘baked’ into the DNA of the company, and not just talked about.  Now, we have things important to us that is explicit in the governance of the company, including (among other things): treatment of our employees, engagement with our clients, sourcing supplies, green transportation, and giving back to the community.

What is the biggest sustainability challenge facing your industry today?

There are some really unsexy challenges we see time and again: managers and leaders just not taking enough time to see good ideas through. Everyone is working hard and there isn’t enough time. People will say sustainability is important, but you have to dedicate staff time to put things in place.

So, we use some simple tools like planned vs. actual tracking to make sure folks follow through. This can be through a corporate tool like balanced scorecard, but it can also just be 1 page of paper with what you are going to do this quarter. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But, it has to be thoughtful and intentional.

How important is sustainability to your customers, and how do you tell them your sustainability story?

Many of our customers don’t have the industry jargon around SRI, ESG, TBL, etc. I see terms thrown around and mis-used. We start with basics –

What is the purpose of your organization?

What problem are you trying to solve?

What makes your solution different from what is out there now? (special sauce – value proposition)

We tell folks we exist to help entrepreneurs and their organizations put their ideas into practice for a better tomorrow. We feel this is a universal need. With engagement and dialogue, we can educate customers with more options for themselves. 

We have written a few of our case studies and learnings, available for free online, Find out more under ‘Resources’ at upspringassociates.com.

Who or what inspires your company in its sustainability journey?

Our clients. The entrepreneurs that lead these social, community, cultural, and environmental change organizations and their businesses with world changing products. 

About Drew Tulchin:

Drew Tulchin has 16 years experience building start-ups and growing organizations. Specialization is in business planning, raising capital, implementing good ideas, and measuring impact for 'triple bottom line' returns - market driven business success that generates social, community, and environmental value. Consulting experience includes throughout the U.S., with Native American Tribes, and in 40+ countries from A (Afghanistan) to Z (Zambia). 

Be sure to check out some of our other featured B Corp of the Month interviews here!