B-Corp Series: Clay Adams

When I talk about ways to make decision-making more inclusive, I’ve noticed that people either perk-up…or look overwhelmed. But the leaders who always want to talk about decision-making are B-Corp executives. B-Corp executives are a special breed.

Why? B-Corp certification for your for-profit company requires you to go through an assessment that measures how you operate with respect to your people, your partnerships, and
your impact on the planet.

B-Corp executives are a special breed.

B-Corp executives are attuned to the people in their companies. And they’re attuned to the decisions they make, because they’ve had to look carefully at the ways their choices create a net social impact. Attunement is “baked into” being awarded a B-Corp certification.

They’re attuned to the decisions they make, because they’ve had to look carefully at the ways their choices create a net social impact.

B-Corp executives are the cohort of people who are leading the way by being conscious about their decision-making cultures.

And I thought you should meet a few of them:


Clay Adams
CEO, Mascoma Bank
Lebanon, NH

Mascoma Bank is thriving. It has 25 branches in New Hampshire and Vermont and is opening 3 more in the coming year in a new market. With 340 employees, it has a much lower turnover rate than its competitors.

Says CEO Clay Adams, “People want to be a part of a bigger goal. Purpose matters. It’s why we exist. The people in this community are not generic customers; they are our neighbors and we want to support them. We are here to help our neighbors achieve their dreams.”

For Mascoma Bank, transitioning to a B-corp infused the organization with new life. “Our employees were very enthusiastic about it.” And the designation was a public affirmation of their core values: community, customers, employees and environment.

According to Clay, a winning hand in banking is possible when you have a commitment to your customer and the communities you serve. “Put simply, engaged employees create better outcomes for customers.”

And for Mascoma’s senior leadership team, instead of evaluating large organizational decisions solely on financial impact—the team also asks: Will this serve as an important community benefit?

This identity-fused-with-purpose approach is also intentionally present in the very first moments of hiring. Mascoma has an in-depth onboarding process.

Using the rallying cry, “We are Mascoma,” they host a 2-day training on what they expect from their people and hammer home their core values. Clay’s senior leadership team attends all the onboarding sessions.

In addition, every department is visited in the course of the year by the senior staff to reinforce the values and the purpose of the organization. This directly affects retention. “We keep people in our bank because we directly tie them to the purpose of our organization.” And this is especially true with millennials. “Young people want to be in an organization that matters.”

In terms of culture of decision-making, Clay appreciates General Stanley McChrystal who writes about his experience as Special Ops in Afghanistan. McCrystal writes, “I want people to fail without feeling like a failure.”

Clay models this approach by stating that everyone can be a leader. He encourages decision-making at the branch level, and encourages people to come forward with ideas they have.

Clay keeps people focused on the mission and their role in advancing it by talking deliberately and regularly about their unique culture and vision.

Do they have a specific structure around decision making? Not yet. But Clay and his staff have laid the important groundwork for people to feel comfortable stepping forward and not be afraid to own an important decision or idea.

Mobilize Your Vision™

Mobilize Your Vision™

Share This