B-Corp Series: Scott Roseman
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:
Founder, New Leaf Community Markets
Board Member, New Seasons Market
Scott Roseman was in the natural foods business back when “shopping organic” and “bringing your own bag” weren’t everyday habits of millions of people–and definitely not a part of any grocery chain. Back when Scott started in 1985, natural foods stores were small, local co-ops. Scott worked at one in Santa Cruz, CA. And after 4 years, he decided to buy it. He wanted to run the co-op in a different kind of way. He wanted to empower workers, share profits, create a “righteous business.”
Scott grew his business for over 28 years, and in 2013, he sold his flourishing natural foods business (New Leaf Community Markets) to New Seasons Market. Scott is on the board on New Seasons and keeps his ties to the natural food world. But even though he has stepped out of the day-to-day operations of his stores, his philosophy is as solid as ever.
Scott was an early-adopter of profit-sharing plans for employees, and a strong proponent of sustainable food products. These concepts were new in the 80’s, but his vision was to give staff as much autonomy as he could and listen to their concerns.
“Our operating systems evolved over time,” he says. “But I always wanted to people to feel they had a say over how things were run—I wanted them to feel respected. I wanted them to enjoy working in the stores. Everything that happens in the business comes down to people. You need to hire passionate people and people who are committed to what you are trying to achieve.”
Customers were important too. And Scott created dialogues with them. In 1993, a customer came up with the idea for the Enviro-token program. When customers brought their own bags, they got a token, and could specify (using the token) to which non-profit the store would donate. This was a brand-new idea at the time.
Creating a business that employees feel good about participating in takes intention and structure. According to Scott, leaders have to consciously engage their teams in order create the kind of customer experiences (and relationships) that keeps customers coming back.
“Give the people that work for you the autonomy they need. And give them as much decision-making ability as possible…with clear lines of authority.” This means that people know their goals, they know what they responsible for, and they know what they need to do. “You have to have clear principles and clear operational strategies. You can’t just talk about it occasionally and expect people to get it.”
Scott can delineate his philosophy in six points: “1. Take care of people, 2. Pay them as well as you can, 3. Be flexible with them, 4. Look for opportunities to show that you care, 5. Have a clear structure in your organization for making decisions…and give people as much autonomy as you can, and 6. Don’t be afraid to fail.” I applaud Scott for his pioneering vision.