The Ian Martin Group

Businesses track performance through a variety of different mediums. Some follow the black line, with success determined purely through quarterly profitability. Others look to their consumers, evaluating the number of clients they’ve impacted over a set period of time. Those traded on the public market translate company value by their share price.

Although these metrics can promote growth, they do not measure the total value a business creates in society.  That’s why many business owners, seeking a better standard to track success, have turned to the growing community of Certified B Corporations (the “B” stands for “Benefit”).

Certified B Corps measure and report against a comprehensive 3rd party standard, called the ‘B Impact Assessment’ that measures the business’s stakeholder impact – stakeholders are defined as: shareholders, employees, suppliers, customers, community, and the environment. It’s like LEED certification but for a whole business instead of just a building.

In short, a great company not only succeeds financially, but also makes a positive impact on the lives of its employees and consumers. Activities are rated under the headings of ‘Governance’, ‘Workers’, ‘Community’, and ‘Environment’. The purpose is to score as highly as possible in each, with a total possible score of 200. A score between 40 and 80 is considered average. Those who attain high results in the B Impact Assessment can become a “Certified B Corp” – a business’s whose purpose is “not only to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world.”

It’s important to note that this isn’t simply a quest for improved social responsibility in business. Yes – social responsibility and charity are a significant part of the B Impact Assessment – yet the purpose is to be all-encompassing. Profitability and employee happiness remain equally as important.

Several notable companies have realized the importance of tracking success through the B Impact assessment. The movement’s “Case Study” page is filled with highly regarded international businesses – Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Etsy, to name a few – who have taken the step towards becoming better corporate stewards.  Among these names, with an impressive B Impact Score of 105, is CEO and Chief Steward of the Ian Martin Group, Tim Masson.

“I believe the B Impact Assessment is the world’s most comprehensive definition of the new rules of the game – it brings together data from a variety of different areas and forms a single number that track’s a company’s positive contributions to society,” Masson explains. “It’s about competing not only on the financial playing field, but also in company culture, community contributions, and environmental awareness.”

For the Ian Martin Group, the primary goal is to develop a world in which every person has the opportunity to pursue meaningful work. The Ontario-based company, which offers engineering, telecom, and information technology staffing assistance, recognizes the huge impact it can have on the lives of the people and companies it connects.

“There’s a lot more to connecting a person and a potential employer than what’s on a resume,” says Masson. “The culture and values need to fit. The business is looking for someone who wants to make a positive contribution and help the company succeed. The applicant is seeking a place where their skills and contributions are not only acknowledged, but appreciated.”

The Ian Martin Group was one of the first Canadian companies to join the B Corp movement in 2012; however, the founding belief system had resounded in the staffing firm decades earlier.

“Mary Masson, my grandmother, began the business in 1957 with her partner, Ian Martin. It was a consulting engineering agency then, but has always carried the forward thinking attitude that brought it to where it is today,” Masson notes.

“My grandmother always taught us that being in a position of authority did not mean acting as a sort of dictator; it’s an obligation to promote good.”

When Masson was presented with the opportunity to take the B Impact Assessment, he viewed it as a way to place a number on the Ian Martin Group’s success as a positive business. The initiative placed a valuated figure on the business’s practices, and, in doing so, provided a way of tracking improvement.

“We found that adopting the B Impact Score as a key measure of success challenged us to become more creative in the way we run our business…we’re competing on the B Impact Score just as aggressively as we are in the marketplace.”

Since completing the initial assessment – which originally gave the company a score of 89 – the Ian Martin Group has taken upon itself to raise its score. Between 2012 and 2014, the firm established a singular mission statement to guide its future steps. It sought new ways of increasing employee engagement, including participating in the Great Place to Work survey, which eventually led to being named as the 25th Best Workplace in Canada by Great Place to Work® in 2014.

In 2013, the Ian Martin Group formed a ‘Stewardship Council’, a team comprised of persons from all departments and levels to act as the voice of all stakeholders driving change within. The Stewardship Council opened the lines of communication between all members of the company, and thus provided an open ground for creative advancements to flourish.

The final and perhaps most radical change made by the Ian Martin Group was its decision to alter its hiring practices to match its mission to create a world where every person can pursue meaningful work. The company, “started hiring anyone who showed up and made it clear that it was also their personal mission in life – their ‘why’”. The result of this philosophy led to the formation of two new businesses, Hirefly (a light-weight recruiting service) & Fitzii (a predictive applicant tracking system), that combine leading-edge technology with personality/culture/skills assessments to help match more people with Meaningful Work.

These initiatives along with Stewardship Council led changes boosted the Ian Martin Group’s B Impact Score from 89 in 2012 to a resounding 105 in 2014. Now, Tim Masson seeks to raise that score even higher, aiming at 120+. The company’s long term goal, set under the 2012 mission statement, is to connect 100,000 people with meaningful work.

As put by Masson:

“Have we reached every goal yet? No – we are going to keep setting the bar higher. We’ve made an important decision: Game on.”

For more information on the Ian Martin Group, please visit http://www.ianmartin.com/.

To learn more about the B Impact Assessment and how you can start changing your business for the better, visit

http://bimpactassessment.net/, or follow Tim Masson’s blog at http://ianmartin.com/blog/

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