How a B Corp Marketing Pioneer Does More Good

Global Prairie

3. Good Health and Well-Being 5. Gender Equality 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

Global Prairie is a global marketing consulting firm that was founded on the premise that business should be a force for good in the world. When founders Anne St. Peter and Douglas Bell crafted their business model, they did so with the intention to become the first global marketing firm to be a Certified Benefit Corporation (B-Corp) and an employee-owned company. Global Prairie seeks clients that are looking for help to drive social impact, and Global Prairie does so with the help of their passionate employee-owners. With a strong commitment to purpose at the heart of their business, Global Prairie has made progress towards thirteen of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and they continue to find ways to expand their corporate impact. Global Prairie’s intentionality towards business operations led them to be recognized as a “Best For The World Honoree” for the past two years, this is the highest award given to B-Corps globally, placing Global Prairie among the top 10% of B-Corps around the world.

Authors

Adrian Hattan

Adrian Hattan

Anel Mattar

Anel Mattar

School

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Professor

Chris Laszlo

Chris Laszlo

Innovation

Global Prairie’s innovation is best exemplified in its unique business model. As one of the few global marketing firms that is a B-Corp and employee-owned, Global Prairie selects clients who want to leave the world somehow better as a criterion, which means that their work as a marketing consulting firm is directly tied to supporting clients that are trying to do good in the world.

Global Prairie’s innovation emerged as a result of Anne and Douglas’ research that revealed that there were no global marketing consulting firms that had secured B-Corp designation and were employee-owned in 2008 when they launched. This white space created an opportunity that Anne and Douglas were excited to marry with their desire to build a company with purpose at the center of its business strategy. They were excited to give their Global Prairie team members (the Global Prairie term for employees) ownership of the business, and over time, they’ve added more and more unique ways to support their team in making an even greater impact on the world. Global Prairie establishes donor-advised funds for every team member and encourages and educates their team on how to become effective and impactful philanthropists.

Global Prairie works closely with the UN Sustainable Development Goals initiative. Of the 17 SDGs, Global Prairie currently works towards 13 of them and is intentional about one-day meeting every single one.

Global Prairie is very proud of the partnerships it has with its clients to work towards a better world (SDG #17). Some of these partnerships include Evergy (SDG #7), Women Leaders in College Sports (SDG #5 and #10), non-profit organizations that support the fight to end hunger (SDG #2), and local civic organizations that promote their cities and surrounding areas (SDG #11). Additionally, the company was founded on the principle of business as a force for good in the world (SDG #3). Global Prairie does this by making sure that their employees have a positive and healthy working environment. Employees are given almost three weeks (or 117 hours) of paid time every year to do volunteer work and give back to their communities (SDG #3). All offices have natural lighting, fresh plants, and outdoor spaces. Additionally, the company has a mentor program, professional development workshops, parental leave, unlimited PTO, an infant at work policy where babies can come to work with their parents until the baby is six months old (there are nurseries in every office), sabbatical leave, adoption benefits, fertility benefits and so much more -- all to support employees looking to start families (SDG #8). Global Prairie team members are empowered to lead each and every day as they are all employee-owners of the company. This encourages employees to have an ownership mindset and always look for ways to make the company stronger. They have an anti-corruption policy to further ensure that employees are doing good (SDG #16). The founders of Global Prairie knew that in order to have a successful company, they would need to have motivated employees that shared their vision of doing good in the world while serving their clients through marketing. All of these initiatives work towards just that.

Their work towards these goals has not only made Global Prairie a Certified B-Corp but also, as mentioned previously, they rank among the top 10% of B-Corps globally. This means that out of all the companies that are certified, Global Prairie performs in the top 10% in the world!


How a B Corp Marketing Pioneer Does More Good

Anel, center front of photo, with the rest of the Global Prairie Cleveland Office.

Inspiration

For the Global Prairie founders, Anne St. Peter and Douglas Bell, the intention to have their business be a force for good in the world not only was the foundation of their company, but also a lesson that they each learned early in their lives. Anne and Doug were both raised by families that encouraged them to be involved in their communities from an early age.

Anne’s parents were both physicians who volunteered part of their time to care for people who couldn’t afford healthcare. Anne recalls her parent’s intentionality in raising her and her five siblings with the lesson of “to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Anne and Doug each took their childhood lessons forward and when their paths crossed later in life, Anne recognized her same giving spirit and desire to leave the world better than she found it in Doug. She admired his strong character and his selfless community engagement, in particular with the hemophilia patient community. They were a strong team from the start, something that has served them well through the ups and downs of launching a business. Anne credits the strength and power of her partnership with Doug, together with Global Prairie's purpose orientation, with being the unique differentiators contributing to Global Prairie’s success.

Through her work serving on nonprofit boards, Anne realized how good it felt to give back. After realizing the physiological science and emotion behind helping others and giving, she thought, “Wouldn’t it be incredible if a business could be a force for good in the world? If we could merge the ideas of making a profit and doing good for the world?” Anne began researching companies like Patagonia as leading examples of organizations that were enlightened and lived out the concept of business as a force for good.

After recognizing the opportunity existed to create the world’s first global marketing firm that was employee-owned and a B-Corp, Anne recruited Doug to join her in this venture. From the launch of Global Prairie in March 2008 to their growth today as a firm with over 100 team members and eight offices around the globe, Anne and Doug continue to lead with the purpose and compassion that first inspired them to join forces, and this has allowed Global Prairie to continue to make a powerful impact around the globe.


Overall impact

The short-term effects are great for everyone. Clients gain valuable expertise and work from the Global Prairie team, and the work that is done is all in support of driving social impact. Simultaneously, the Global Prairie team members that work at the company are treated in the same manner as the company founders-- they all sit together in the same open office environment (no corner offices for these company founders) and everyone is encouraged to provide input on the business’ goals and objectives. The long-term effects are truly exciting. Anne firmly believes in the power of B Corps and employee ownership to drive growth, and both Anne and Doug are sought after speakers for panels and discussions amongst business leaders to discuss ways that business can put profit and purpose on a level playing field.

Global Prairie serves as a model for what other professional service and consulting firms could aspire to, in addition to showcasing the unique advantages of being an employee-owned company and a B-Corp.

Global Prairie exists as a shining example of change, evolution, and innovation in the global business world.


Business benefit

Because Global Prairie is very selective of their client partnerships, they have been able to hone in on their niche of helping companies drive social impact. This strict focus is rare to see in other marketing firms, and that is one explanation for the reputable clients that Global Prairie is able to source.

Additionally, the team at Global Prairie firmly believes that by giving employees ownership and time in their workday to do good in the world, that the entire company benefits, leading to increased employee engagement and happiness, resulting in increased profits and greater community impact, all at the same time.

Global Prairie’s success in business is illustrated throughout its history. Anne and Doug launched this business at the beginning of the 2008-2009 recession. When so many other companies failed, Global Prairie was able to grow and prosper in the midst of a challenging economic climate. Anne admits that their team has faced plenty of challenges and experienced failure along the way, but that Global Prairie has been able to learn and grow from each experience. Anne is convinced that their team’s ability to succeed in the face of adversity is tied closely with their commitment to being employee-owned and to the intention of being a company that strives to do good for the world.


Social and environmental benefit

While their partner clients are also creating social and environmental benefits, Global Prairie’s impact comes through both their demonstrated commitment to their employees (ie, high salaries and rich benefits, including employee ownership of the company) and their initiatives towards meeting the criteria to achieve B Corp certification. Global Prairie’s social and environmental impact is also marked by their many contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Interview

Anne St. Peter, Founder

Photo of interviewee

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Global Prairie

Global Prairie

Kansas City; Cleveland; Dallas; Charleston; Washington, DC; Denver; Brussels; Berlin, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, South Carolina, Colorado, Belgium, Germany, US

Business Website: https://www.globalprairie.com/

Year Founded: 2008

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Global Prairie is a global marketing consulting firm that partners with clients that are interested in driving social impact. In addition to providing the services of a traditional marketing consulting firm, Global Prairie is employee-owned and encourages its employees to get engaged and involved in the communities where Global Prairie has offices to help drive impact in their communities and build a passion for their social impact work.