We are proud to announce that Column has joined a small subset of public benefit corporations officially certified by B Lab, a global nonprofit network committed to making all businesses a force for good. Our B-Corp certification reaffirms our long-held commitment to serving all our stakeholders and elevates our standards for business practices and governance.
In 2020, Column reincorporated as a Delaware public benefit corporation, which meant we committed to being accountable to all our stakeholders — workers, communities, customers, suppliers and the environment — not just our shareholders.
When we became a public benefit company, we committed to the following practices: producing one or more public benefits for society and the environment, regularly reporting to stockholders on the corporation’s overall social and environmental performance, and naming a public benefit director to consider the effects of corporate action or inaction on all stakeholders. We chose to appoint Nancy Gibbs — who was our Independent Director at the time — as our new benefit director.
This year, we decided to go a step further in our commitments by undergoing B Lab’s rigorous certification process.
Last month, Column completed a comprehensive impact assessment and review process — conducted by B Lab — that evaluated our impact on all stakeholders. Only a small subset of public benefit corporations choose to undergo this official certification process, which requires companies to complete extensive questionnaires and submit documentation that looks into all aspects of the business to achieve a qualifying score to become a B-Corp.
Column obtained a B Impact Assessment Qualifying Score of 85.9 out of 200. This score — 39.9 points higher than the median score for ordinary businesses — distinguishes Column from other companies by verifying that we meet the highest standards of performance, accountability and transparency on everything from employee benefits and charitable giving, to supply chain practices and input materials.
More importantly, our B Impact Score gives us a solid benchmark of not only what we’re doing well but also what we can improve moving forward and how we can better serve all our stakeholders.
This section evaluates how we contribute to employees’ financial, physical, professional and social well-being.
Financial Security. 100% of our full-time employees and contractors receive stock options and a base salary that is greater than the living wage for a family in their area. In the United States, we offer a 40(k) with a 5% employer match and socially-responsible investment options for retirement savings. In the United Kingdom, we contribute 3% to eligible pension plans.
Health and Wellness: We offer a health and wellness stipend — Column Adventures — for team members to pursue activities and services that make them feel healthy and whole. This past year, we upgraded our parental leave policy, which covers 100% of base salary regardless of gender or tenure for birth, fostering, or the placement of a child, from 12 weeks to 16 weeks. In the United States, we cover 90% of individual healthcare premiums and offer plans that have an out-of-pocket maximum for individual coverage of $2,000 or less. In countries around the globe, we offer health care coverage or supplemental health care stipends.
Engagement and Satisfaction: We offer unlimited paid time off (PTO) with a suggested minimum of 15 days per year. We support flexible working arrangements and allow people in most roles to work at the hours that make the most sense for them and their loved ones.
Career Development . We have a formal onboarding process for all new employees and provide optional reimbursement for continuing education. All full-time employees participate in our quarterly performance review process aimed to help them continue to grow in their careers. And, greater than 15% of individuals have been promoted or received transfers they applied for within the last 12 months. Of these employees with internal mobility, a significant portion were individuals who are considered underrepresented in the technology sector.
This section evaluates our engagement with and impact on the communities in which we operate, hire from, and source from.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We want to cultivate a diverse community of interesting and interested people from around the globe. We believe that potential is evenly distributed, but that opportunity is not. To that end, we strive to make career opportunities at Column accessible to and equitable for people from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds. Today, we are a global, remote-only technology company with folks on five different continents, many of whom live in countries, states or rural regions that have historically not had access to jobs in the technology sector. Greater than 30% of our team members identify as racial or ethnic minorities, and greater than 40% identify as women. Our three-person board of directors is made up entirely of individuals from various underrepresented backgrounds.
This section evaluates how Column operates with regard to overall environmental stewardship.
Virtual Office Stewardship. Without permanent, physical company facilities, our environmental footprint is greatly reduced. For employees’ work-from-home setups, we maintain a written policy encouraging environmentally preferred products and practices. Moreover, every single vendor we suggest employees use for their one-time productivity stipend (a benefit we offer employees upon hiring them) is either a B-Corp or has certifications related to impact on environments, such as 5-star ENERGY RATINGS or LEED certifications. This means our default for ordering technology and equipment is from companies that are dedicated to excellent environmental practices.
As an auxiliary part of the social impact assessment, B-Lab recommends companies set SDG Action Goals — sustainable development goals from the United Nations. We chose to undertake this part of the process and answer questions related to SDG Action Goals. As a result, we’ve set up a Social Impact Group of Columnists focused on improving our impact on information accessibility and usability related to the following SDG Action Areas: Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Industries, Innovation, and Infrastructure.
Our goal with social impact work is intimately tied to our mission to make public information systems more valuable. We want to think about ways to increase access to public information across the globe — both by making information more useful to communities and ensuring equal access to this information for people in these communities. We’re committed to increasing access to public information so that everyone can use this information to materially improve their life.
Our social impact theme is information usability and accessibility.
To fulfill our social impact theme, we are forming a time-limited Social Impact Working Group. This group will have three to five columnists total and will be responsible for generating a social impact proposal to be reviewed by our officers and Nancy Gibbs, Column’s independent board director.
We are so excited to announce the first members of our group including Melissa Theiss (head of people), Nirvanna Lildharrie (team lead, business development), and Sarah Alpert (product manager). Stay tuned for upcoming work released by this group.
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