How B Corporations Build On a Minnesotan Business Tradition

By Lisa Helminiak

August 11, 2016

Why Azul Seven registered as a B Corporation.

In 1976 Minnesota business leaders came together to start the 5 Percent Club. The idea was to encourage one another to commit from 2 to 5 percent of their pre-tax business earnings to address community needs.

Some of the early founders of what would eventually become the Keystone Program included David Koch, the CEO of Graco, Inc.; the Dayton brothers, who founded Target; and Curt Carlson of Carlson Companies.

These men knew businesses couldn’t thrive without the support of the community. And that communities do better when businesses invest in their health. Kenneth Dayton captured the focus of the group when he declared, “The business of business is serving society. Profit is our reward for serving society well.”

The Keystone Program has contributed to the development of innumerable Minnesota institutions over the last 40 years. Programs such as Heatshare, The Women’s Economic Development, and Metro Food Share continue to strengthen our community.

A give-and-take relationship between business and community is part of why Minnesota continually ranks on the “best places to live” indexes for factors like health, education, business climate and the arts. It’s one of the reasons Minnesota is a great place to live despite temperature extremes that rival Siberia!

Taking the Tradition Forward

Azul Seven wants to honor and build upon this great tradition. That’s why we jumped at the opportunity to register as a B Corporation when the State of Minnesota passed the Minnesota Public Benefits Corporation Act in 2015.

The B Corporation movement is founded on the idea that business can be a force for good in the world. Azul Seven wants to be on the forefront of this global movement.

As a human-centered design and biomimicry consulting firm, our mission is to help create products, services and systems that better meet real human needs with solutions that are life sustaining and regenerative. We believe in a world where we can create value and profit to enrich our local economic health, protect and enhance our natural environment and shared ecosystems, and support and build upon our cultural landscape.

Thus, Azul Seven is pursuing our Minnesotan and B Corporation values by:

  • Hiring a diverse staff;
  • Paying fair and equitable wages;
  • Continuing to find ways to lessen our negative impact on the environment;
  • Supporting our local economy by purchasing goods and services from local suppliers and partners, when possible;
  • Volunteering, as well as investing financial resources for social good; and
  • Making a commitment to improve our impact each year.

As our early Minnesota business leaders understood, to thrive in the future, we know business must abandon a winner takes all mindset, and adopt one of interdependence. That was what the 5 Percent Club was about.

Azul Seven wants to be part of the renaissance of that idea and help move it to a global stage through the B Corporation movement. To support this effort, Azul Seven subscribes to the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence ©

We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.

This economy is comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation – which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

As B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:

  • That we must be the change we seek in the world.
  • That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
  • That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
  • To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.

© Copyright 2015 B Lab, All rights reserved

To learn more about the B Corporation movement and ways you can get involved, visit the B Labs website.

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