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Employee All-Stars: Amber and Peter of Mightybytes

Our B the Change campaign is about celebrating everyone who uses business as a force for good. We’ll be sitting down with a series of all-star B Corp employees to highlight their accomplishments and contributions to the movement.

Mightybytes, Inc, a Chicago-based creative firm with a specialty in website design, was first certified as a B Corporation in 2011 and became an Illinois benefit corporation in 2013. Aside from doing great work for B Corps, education providers, and other 501c3s, Mightybytes also works to provide technical platforms for sustainable initiatives.

Whether they’re championing their vendors and clients to become B Corps, organizing Team B the Change for Climate Ride, or promoting the use of the B Impact Assessment at industry events, Mightybytes’ team has set the standard for engagement within the B Corp community. 

B Lab sat down with two of Mightybytes employees, Peter Athans and Amber Vasquez, to learn more about them, Mightybytes, and their experience working at a B Corporation!

B Lab: First things first: introduce yourselves! What are your roles at Mightybytes?

Amber: I’m the Experience Director at Mightybytes. I run web development and visual design. One of Mightybytes’ products is EcoGrader, a free tool that grades websites on sustainability, so my main job is making sure that everything that comes out of Mightybytes has a great EcoGrader score: are we practicing what we preach? 

Peter: I’m the Director of Operations & Business Development, so I manage most of the business aspects of running Mightybytes. Mightybytes’ mission has a big impact on how I feel it’s important to run the company; people have work that’s interesting and engaging and important beyond the traditional bottom line. I actively sought out a company like Mightybytes, because I’m all about the triple bottom line.

BL: When did you first hear of B Corporations?

Peter: I had heard of terms like “triple bottom line,” “social ventures,” and “conscious capitalism,” but I had never heard of B Corps specifically before coming to Mightybytes. It was very compelling to me because before that everything seemed to be marketing-driven. Anyone can call themselves social or conscious or say that they care—everyone already does! Becoming a B Corp is a difficult enough certification process to be meaningful. It goes beyond lip service.

Amber: I also hadn’t heard of B Corps before I came to Mightybytes. It didn’t really sink in until I went to the retreat; that’s when I got the full experience of what it means to be an employee of a B Corp.

BL: What accomplishments are you most proud of? B Corp related or otherwise.

Amber: I’m proud to have recently started our internal “B Mighty” team. I attended the B Corp Champions Retreat in Boulder in 2013, and was really excited to come back after that and form an internal Mightybytes team for outreach to other Illinois B Corps in order to do informal meet-ups and host speakers. Within Mightybytes, the B Mighty team makes sure we look first to B Corporations and local businesses in terms of vendor and provider relationships. 

Peter: I sit on the board of Citizens’ Greener Evanston and I’m really proud of the work we’ve been doing there. Illinois deregulated electricity a few years ago, which means a group of citizens can aggregate themselves and sign a power purchase agreement with any available electricity supply company. Citizens’ Greener Evanston did a ton of outreach to the citizens to convince them to go after aggregation; now, everyone in Evanston uses wind-powered electricity. Looking to the future, I’m trying to bring a wind farm to Evanston so that we can produce the power locally. I can’t wait until I can see a wind farm from my balcony!

BL: Does Mightybytes’ social & environmental mission affect how you feel about your job? What about its B Corp certification?

Amber: It completely affects how I feel about my job! I feel like I’m actually making a difference, and I’ve never felt that way about a job before. I’ve never worked at a place where I feel like I’m cared about so much. The environment and the benefits are both great, which filters into the work you do. It makes me all-around happier at my job, which makes a huge difference for me personally.

Peter: I would agree completely with Amber. Beyond that, it’s wonderful to work somewhere where you don’t do icky work just because money’s involved in it. It’s great to work somewhere where your boss gets it and no one wants to go to bed thinking, “By working with this company, I’ve made the world worse for money.” In terms of being a B Corp, the certification and re-certification process gives you this codified thing you can look at that says “Have you thought about X? Have you thought about Y? What are you doing to lower your carbon footprint? What are you doing to help underprivileged people in your community?” It raises our awareness that hey, there’s stuff we could be doing that wasn’t on our radar.

BL: Now that you’re aware of the B Corp movement through your work, do you find you’re more likely to buy B Corp products or talk about B Corps with your friends and family?

Amber: I definitely do! At Christmas time I went and looked for B Corps in particular. It’s something that I make the extra effort to look for, especially around the holidays and special occasions. And I definitely do talk about B Corps a lot. People are always so interested and surprised that something like this exists; they can’t believe there’s a company designation where people are doing good and still making livable wages.

Peter: I bring it up a lot too. I run in a crowd that’s pretty socially conscious. For them, what’s revolutionary isn’t that that B Corp is socially conscious, but the idea of, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if you could make a profit while doing all of these things?” I’m motivated to work at a B Corp because I always felt like I would end up working at some random corporation and then spend my nights and weekends volunteering at a non-profit to undo all the things I was doing at work. The idea of not creating a mountain of garbage at work, of making sure that your workplace isn’t responsible for all these terrible things? That resonates with everyone.

BL: OK, to wrap up, let’s do a spin on a classic job interview question. Where would you like to be in five years, and where do you see the B Corp movement in five years?

Peter: Hopefully I’m five years closer to seeing a wind farm from my balcony! And still working at a wildly-profitable Mightybytes that has a great reputation as a company to work for and with. I’d love to see the B Corp logo be something that all our potential customers would recognize as the signifier that it is. I want B Corps to become a self-supporting idea, something that’s as recognizable and well-known as Google.

Amber: I would definitely echo what Peter said in terms of seeing the logo on more products that I purchase. Seeing that logo on more products and knowing that my home is filled with products I believe in would be great. At work, I definitely want to be working with and growing more companies, working with more B Corporations, and hopefully helping Mightybytes become a billion-dollar company.

Peter: I definitely agree with that last point of Amber’s. I want to once and for all undermine the idea that profit and purpose are mutually exclusive. 

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