Tuesday, June 17, 2014

UGA Net Impact Club Partners with Terrapin Beer Company through Projects For Good Initiative

From L-R: Erin Geoffroy, MBA '15; Chris DeFago, MBA '15;
Bobby Callahan, MBA '15; CEO John Cochran;
Julia McDaris MBA, '15; and Christina Smith, MBA '14.
Today we welcome Erin Geoffroy, MBA '15 (pictured on left) as a guest contributor to provide an overview of a project completed this spring.
Last semester, I was pleased to participate in a national Net Impact initiative called Projects for Good, which creates opportunities for students to serve as sustainability consultants for companies and help their triple bottom line.  Several students that are actively involved with the UGA Net Impact chapter partnered with Terrapin Beer Company to help them perform a B Impact assessment and help Terrapin become a more environmentally and socially responsible company.  Our team included MBA students with a range of expertise in environmental and social issues: Bobby Callahan, Chris DeFago, Erin Geoffroy, Julia McDaris, and Christina Smith.
Over the course of several months, we met regularly with CEO John Cochran and HR Manager Jeremiah Shepherd to learn more about Terrapin’s current practices and growth strategy.  The B Impact Assessment is a tool created by the non-profit B Lab to provide standards, benchmarks, and tools for a business to assess its overall impact, compare itself to other organizations in its industry, and provide practical solutions to improve impact over time. 
Why should a company invest time in using such a tool to improve impact?  It can help the company attract and engage employees, earn credibility and trust from peers, and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  In fact, I recently spoke to BBC Capital about how young people today, women especially, want to work for companies that prioritize social and environmental responsibility.  When looking for internships and full-time positions, many of my classmates and I made working for a company that is committed to making a positive impact a top priority in our respective job searches.
In our early conversations with Terrapin, we were thrilled to learn that the organization is already making significant strides towards its goals.  Terrapin donated $28,000 to local charities in the past year, has many great benefit programs in place such as a bike-to-work incentive, and has a goal to be listed as a “Great Place to Work” in the next few years.  Additionally, Terrapin has several initiatives planned for the coming year such as time off for employees to volunteer and a new canning line that will make the beer Terrapin produces a more sustainable product (since aluminum is infinitely recyclable). 
We worked with Terrapin to go through the B Impact Assessment and tried to simplify the process in light of their busy schedules.  Our team then entered the information into the assessment tool to generate a raw score for the company.  We presented to John and Jeremiah on ideas and best practices along with short-term and long-term recommendations for improving their impact in four areas: governance, environment, community, and workers.  The team was incredibly receptive to our ideas and requested that we continue to serve as consultants as they work towards these goals.  We are excited to continue this work in the fall and provide suggestions and innovative ideas. 
CEO John Cochran said, “We have enjoyed working with the UGA Net Impact team; their guidance on environmentally and socially responsible best practices will help us better position Terrapin as a company that makes great sustainably-produced beer, has a strong presence in our local community, and operates in a way that makes everyone want to work for Terrapin.” 

In addition to continuing our work with Terrapin, we are eager to find other local businesses in Athens that want to improve their triple bottom line and partner with UGA Net Impact.  If you are a local business that is interested in improving your social and environmental practices, please contact us at uga@netimpact.org