North Carolina business leaders are joining together in a new coalition to support socially and environmentally responsible practices.
The North Carolina Business Council is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group of businesses from across the state that aims to advance policies benefiting local communities and the environment while also promoting job growth. An affiliate of the American Sustainable Business Council, the North Carolina organization publicly launched Monday and now represents more than 5,000 business owners.
“We’re made up of businesses who look at people, planet and profit,” said Vicki Lee Parker, executive director of NCBC. “They’re committed to people and the community as well as creating jobs and wanted to make sure their values were reflected in the policies that are being created.”
She noted that the council’s goal is to connect these socially responsible business owners to state policymakers and legislators. The businesses that make up the council are dedicated to improving the environment and taking into consideration the people who work for them.
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To promote its values, NCBC plans to meet informally with legislators for coffee or lunch to allow for the free exchange of ideas in an open setting.
“It’s kind of a social way to educate people on both sides and to help businesses understand what policymakers are up against as well,” Parker said.
NCBC aims to make its application process simple to attract businesses, she explained. Those interested can submit an online application, noting how their company implements the council’s values. This can be as simple as demonstrating a commitment to recycling, hiring a diverse staff or offering living wages. Business also have to sign a membership pledge that states they will continue to uphold the council’s dedication to socially responsible practices.
The council’s Raleigh-based board oversees the application process and then keeps an eye on businesses that join. Companies that have become members this year include Fullsteam Brewery of Durham, Reverence Farms Café of Graham, the NC Sustainable Energy Association and the Redwoods Group, a Morrisville-based insurance consulting firm.
NCBC plans to honor five of its members at its first Leadership in Visionary Enterprises Awards Luncheon on Nov. 3 at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center.
Although the council did not publicly launch until this week, the board was formed in 2015 by corporate-sustainability advocate Eric Henry, CEO of TS Designs in Burlington. Since then, efforts have focused on organizing the council by forming partnerships and developing a website, Parker explained. The council has board members based in major North Carolina cities but is still trying to find someone in Asheville, she said.
Although there are many other business organizations in the state, Parked noted that NCBC stands out because of its focus on socially responsible businesses.
“We’re more inclusive of all businesses that have any aspect of social responsibility and care about more than just making profit,” she said.
Moving forward, the council aims to become a statewide leader, advocating for the companies it represents.
“We want to continue to grow our membership so that we will be recognized as a voice for socially responsible corporations in the state and that legislators will regularly see us as a place to go to learn more about the issues and concerns that a particular community has,” Parker said.
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