by Nick Rooney, Devi Johnson

What has Point B been up to over the last four years in its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work? Get a quick preview in this interview with two of the creators of Impact, our 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility report.

Through the lens of our employee owners and partners, our customers and communities, Impact takes a close look at the progress we’ve made together since our 2016 report. As we gathered data and wrote stories that bring our people-first focus to life, no one could have foreseen that a deadly pandemic would soon be sweeping the planet. And yet the challenges of COVID-19 have confirmed our priorities and reinforced our commitment: Now more than ever, we all need to think and act in ways that create more resilient families, communities and businesses.

The following interview was conducted on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the auspicious date of the report’s publication. Nick Rooney and Devi Johnson share their perspective on putting our CSR work into words and telling human stories of the resilience and sustainability at the heart of Point B. Our thanks also go to the other members of the core CSR team, Jake Gentry and Meli Gass.

Would you share a few highlights from the 2020 report? Any surprises?

NICK: I love the report’s Community section. It highlights some of the great work Point B has done in our communities across the country over the last few years. Our approach to community giving is not just focused on contributing financially as a company, but it also really empowers our people to be leaders in their communities and pursue the causes they’re passionate about. I’m also excited about the ambitious goals we’ve set for 2023, especially tripling our community impact. It’s a testament to the value we place on our communities. As for surprises, I think the biggest one came at the beginning, as we realized just how many stories we could tell. It’s always a happy surprise when there’s a lot of great content. 

DEVI: I especially like the Customer section. It highlights some great examples of how we support our customers and help them do their best for their own employees and customers. And I love how much of our CSR work spans the broader Point B organization, including all our markets. I was surprised by how much we’ve been able to accomplish in a few short years. I recently heard someone say that we tend to overestimate how much we can get done in a day, but we underestimate how much we can get done in a year.

Any stories that especially highlight Point B’s people-first approach?

DEVI: So much of the work is about our people-first approach. I like the stories of our work with community organizations, especially The Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona and the Arizona Humane Society. They show how much Point B’s people-first approach focuses not only on our customers, but also on making the broader community stronger.

NICK: Point B is a people-first consulting company, and I think this focus is reflected throughout the report. In the Community section, I agree with Devi; the Free Arts for Abused Children story is a great example of how we help leaders of organizations solve big, challenging problems. In this case, we provided significantly discounted work to help create a very special place of hope for young victims of abuse.

Point B is known for being one of the top workplaces in the country. How has CSR played a role?

NICK: To me, it seems our company was founded on CSR principles—just without that label. We exist for the benefit of our people and keep our focus on treating people well, and these are key reasons we win so many “best workplace” awards. We’ve also won customer-focused awards, including being named one of “America’s Best Management Consulting Firms” from Forbes. Putting our values through a CSR lens allows us to focus on extending the best practices that are inherent in our firm’s values. 

DEVI: We’re also making sure we’re doing our part to reduce our environmental impact. When you put all of these values and actions together, they create a great place to work. It’s who Point B is.  

Point B is 100% employee-owned and it has a local business model—both unique for a large consulting company. How does this affect your CSR efforts?

DEVI:  Employee ownership makes us more aware of what we can do to better our company, as well as our broader environment and communities. It also allows us to focus on long-term investments and do projects that may not give quarter-by-quarter returns, but that deliver more over a longer period of time to benefit the company and our communities.

NICK: Employee ownership empowers all of us to have a real stake in the decisions the company makes. It motivates employees to do more, which has helped create the reputation Point B has in the community. Employees can say with pride that Point B supports their community endeavors. Allowing people to work and live in the same place allows them to be really rooted in their communities and create long-lasting relationships without having to sacrifice them for work-related travel. Employee ownership also allows us to access leadership in different ways, we can be entrepreneurial, and drive key initiatives, like CSR, for the company.

Point B released Impact on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Was there an inspiration for this, or was it just a happy coincidence?

NICK: Earth Day is always a highlight of the year for the CSR team. It’s an opportunity to encourage employees and focus on how their daily habits impact the planet. It’s a great reminder to continue to pursue actions that help our communities become more sustainable. Especially in today’s climate, it was important to release the report on Earth Day because the role of business is becoming more and more important as environmental sustainability is top of mind for younger generations, and we all see the effects of climate change becoming more pronounced. This is a great time for Point B to show how far we’ve come sustainability-wise and lay out our plans for carbon neutrality and tripling our community impact in general.

DEVI: Earth Day is a great time to make our actions visible. Because of the pandemic, we’re at this unique point in time when we’re seeing that some of the work we thought required travel can actually be done remotely. I think this realization will lead to more change as we move forward into a new way of working that will benefit the environment as a whole.

How else has the pandemic affected the way you look at your CSR work and your goals for 2023?

NICK: Our CSR values show through in this challenging environment, including the importance we place on the well-being of our people. The current situation really shows how companies care for their employees. I think this pandemic can also open up some opportunities. The silver lining (if there is one) is that it will transform how business is done. Do we really need to hop on a plane to have that one meeting with an executive? We know we can continue to be productive remotely, and that might be a key case study for reducing our environmental footprint.

DEVI: The pandemic has forced so much change so quickly. It’s really helpful that we have a strong CSR structure in place that is so relevant to the challenges we face as a result of the pandemic. We are moving forward in the same direction but moving more quickly.

NICK: Our CSR work is driving innovation. We have lots of ideas, and now we are putting them to the test at speed. The pandemic is opening everyone’s eyes to new possibilities. And it’s reinforcing the value of taking care of employees.

When will Point B publish its next CSR report? Can you share a few of your future goals?

NICK: We’ll publish the next report in early 2024, once we’ve been able to assess how well we’ve met our 2023 goals. Some goals, such as tripling our community impact, are really ambitious. It’s a bold step for our company, and we’re putting quantitative and qualitative measures around that goal. We’ll continue our journey in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), which is very important to us. Carbon neutrality is a big leap, too. It will be interesting to see what’s possible, given the changing economic situation

DEVI: We’re always building on the impact we’ve made. In EDI, for example, Point B has joined the CEO Action Pledge and taken other actions across our business to achieve ambitious EDI goals. We still have a lot of work to do in EDI, and realizing our goals for 2023 will only be possible because of the actions we’ve taken in the last three years.

Any closing thoughts?

DEVI: Seeing the progress we’ve made since 2016 makes me very proud to be part of Point B. Our 2020 report shares a wealth of information about us that most people don’t know. I’m very proud it’s out in the world now.

NICK: From my perspective as an employee, I’m proud to share this report on the great CSR work we’ve done. Everyone who cares about the environment can see how we’re thinking about our impact and taking actions such as responsible sourcing and limiting our carbon footprint. From a customer’s point of view, the report is a good way to see the CSR work we’ve done and how we might help them with their own CSR efforts—how they can look at their own business model, think about the impact they make, and set goals that grow financial sustainability while helping their communities and the environment.  As we are seeing every day, it all goes hand in hand.