We Are Highland Group

Highland Group

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

Highland Group dedicates itself to giving back to, and staying connected with, the community. Employees are encouraged to participate in community events, and head to their "2nd job" which business owner Scott Crowley jokingly refers to community participation. Employees are encouraged to participate in community events in addition to engaging in daily initiatives taken around the office like "Eco Friendly Fridays" where staff works with no lights on all day. The solution is simple in the eyes of Scott and Highland Group, and that is to connect with the community and encourage the participation of the development of their community for good.

Author

Anthony Buffa

Anthony Buffa

School

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University

Professor

Timothy Palmer

Timothy Palmer

Innovation

The Highland Group is a certified B Corp that finds multiple opportunities to innovate in ways that are simple, cost effective and eco-friendly. In addition to Eco Friendly Fridays, the company tracks its waste along with the amount of recycling and composting they are doing. This requires a significant amount of attention from the entire team at Highland Group. By constantly tracking their carbon footprint, they are able to efficiently see areas where they are meeting company expectations, and areas that need improvement.

One impressive initiative at Highland Group focuses on SDG 13, Climate Action. Coined the "Carbon Footprint Allowance," this initiative provides benefits to employees to find alternatives to cars when commuting to work. For example, the company will purchase one pair of walking shoes per year for employees to walk to work. The company has extended this initiative to cycling by offsetting some of the cost of a new bicycle, or helping with maintenance costs of bicycles each year. They will also purchasing a bus pass if public transportation is available. The response has been excellent and everyone in the company takes advantage of the “Carbon Footprint Allowance.”

If you are referencing the website bcorporation.net and search for Highland Group, you are given access to be able to see a wide range of their "score" given to them after taking the initial assessment test, and the test(s) they have taken since. The highest individual category score is under the "Community" section and aimed towards "Local Economic Development". One of the things that contributes towards this specific goal is the promotion of volunteering towards local causes, that employees can pick and choose. Scott made it clear that it is all voluntary, but stresses the impact that it can have for the local community. Promoting certain foundations, activities and charities that may need help in the Grand Rapids area, and letting the employees choose a specific organization to contribute towards increases the connection they have with the community.

We Are Highland Group

Inspiration

According to Scott Crowley, the inspiration for these innovations along with their approach to community involvement comes from having a core set of values, especially because it is a family business. Scott and his wife Jen have set out to align their personal values with their business values, and it shows.

Significantly surpassing the threshold for B Corp status provides validation for the values that are infused in the company. Says Scott, “Watching the score rise, and working towards an even higher score while having the validation of knowing that we are doing a good job is important". Scott emphasizes the importance of "growing the business beyond the triple bottom line approach" and sees value-driven growth as an inspiration to be better.

Overall impact

Scott Crowley is proud of the Highland Group’s B-Corp status, and defines his success in terms of B Lab’s metrics. Indeed, the Highland Group has increased its “impact score” to 109.5 from its initial score in 2016 of 50.9. In order to qualify for B-Corp certification status, you must achieve a score of 80 or higher. According to Scott, the increase can be attributed to their efforts to improve sustainability, implement more eco-friendly business practices, and create innovative solutions to daily problems.

Scott hopes the growth does not stop there. Aiming high, they plan to have their score to 120 in the near future. Their highest scores can be found in the "Community" and "Workers" segments. These include factors like local economic development, local involvement, job creation and compensation/benefits offered.

Business benefit

The values infused in the Highland Group have led to innovations and benefits to the company. Scott points to high retention rates, employee satisfaction, employee contribution and much more. Although his firm is small, he values his employees and their contribution towards the common goal they are all trying to achieve. That isn't the only thing that has changed, but Highland Group has grown at a steady rate, attracting more clientele outside of the Grand Rapids area. They have effectively opened their market up, and claim that a piece of attraction for their clients is the B-Corporation certification.

While not the primary motivation, one key benefit is the Highland Group’s reputation in Grand Rapids. Online reviews of the company say its employees do "great work" and provide "amazing service.”

Social and environmental benefit

From tracking their energy use to monitoring recycling to implementing and embedding programs like the "Carbon Footprint Allowance," the Crowleys are inspiring others to making positive changes. They, and the Highland Group, are leaders in Grand Rapids for business sustainability. Instead of talking about change, they are becoming the change.

Not only is the Highland Group enhancing the environment around them, but they are providing employees a place to work that treats them as a valuable asset. They respect their employees and, in return, the employees provide a high quality level of work. The employees also find the inspiration to follow the lead set by Scott and Jen, as they participate in the community and work to make Grand Rapids a stronger community. The Highland Group, through Scott and Jen Crowley, demonstrates ethical and sustainable business practices for today’s stakeholders as well as generations to follow.

Interview

Scott Crowley, Owner

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Highland Group

Highland Group

Grand Rapids, Michigan, US

Business Website: www.wearehg.com

Year Founded: 2001

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Highland Group is a marketing services firm that focuses on brand strategy and web design and development. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan they have developed a regional client base to support their business. Their size allows them to work on up to 30 projects at any one time, helping clients with their digital strategy, brand strategy and business development.