Season 3, Episode 096: Carolina Miranda
Cultivating Capital | Environmental Services | August 03th 2020 | 45:03
Carolina Miranda is the founder and CEO of cultivating Capital, a certified B Corp since 2012. Their purpose is to help make the world a better place by helping businesses to operate in ways that are more socially and environmentally beneficial.
Highlights of Carolina Miranda
- She found out that there was a gap between big and small corporations that don't have resources to invest in sustainability.
- She focused on best practices for small businesses using frameworks to do that.
- Increase of awareness and interest at all levels.
- Need to take action on all levels, individually and from organisations.
"We need to take action on all levels and individually we can so by the personal choices that we all make do have an impact. Consumers have tremendous, tremendous power. And I think we sometimes underestimate that".
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Hi, Carolina, thank you so much for joining the green element podcast. Can you please tell us a bit about who you are? And what sort of Yeah, what's your purpose?
Carolina Miranda - 00:27
Sure. Well, my name is Carolina Miranda. And my business is called Cultivating Capital. It's been a certified B Corp since 2012. And my purpose is really to do what I can to help make the world a better place. And the way that I've chosen to do that is to help businesses to operate in ways that are just more socially and environmentally beneficial. Because I do think that business has a big role to play in the kind of world that we live in.
Will Richardson - 01:00
Brilliant, what would you say your business superpower was? Or what's your superpower?
Carolina Miranda - 01:05
Yeah, I would say it's, it's evolved when I started working as a sustainability consultant about 10 years ago, I started to recognise that the larger corporations had the resources that they needed. Not that they had all the answers, but they had the resources. And where I saw there was a gap was really with small businesses that didn't have the resources to hire, you know, Chief Sustainability Officer and they just weren't sure exactly what to do. They knew they wanted to do something, but they weren't sure what to do. And so what I really started to focus in on was best practices for sustainability for small businesses, and really looking at what are the things that if all companies did this would really start to make a difference. And so my focus has really been on that it's been on, let's not reinvent the wheel, let's not, let's not, you know the perfect be the enemy of the good. But let's look at what are the best practices that already exist and bring those into organisations. And I'm a big supporter of the use of frameworks to be able to do that, because I think that third party frameworks are really helpful, particularly for small businesses because they help them to identify where they're doing well and what their opportunities are. And also it shows them things that they might not have thought about otherwise. And so the two frameworks that I've used are the B impact assessment, which is one excuse to certify as B corp and then because I am in California, there's also a California green business programme that is focused more on just environmental component but it does provide a pretty good framework. So that's that's the long answer. Is that really it's about sustainability practices for small businesses.
Will Richardson - 03:11
Can you tell us a bit about how you engage your staff, suppliers and customers with your mission and purpose?
Carolina Miranda - 03:18
Well, you know, I'm a small business owner, sole proprietor, I work with contractors. And so I would say that everybody who works with me knows very clearly what Cultivating Capital is all about. It's, it's on my website, it's who I am and what I do, actually, contractors and interns seek me out because they are attracted to the work that I'm doing as a B Corp and helping others to become the corp. So I would say that really, it's just a part of the way that that I operate and certainly part that means choosing tour with suppliers who are also values aligned. So I always look first and foremost within the B Corp community to find who is offering product or service that my clients are going to need because you know, we need to support other purpose driven businesses. And I also work with a lot of women business owners and so I do also work with a lot of women who you know, serve as suppliers, who are offering products and services that you know, that I need and that my clients need.
Will Richardson - 04:37
Brilliant, brilliant. That's really it's really nice to hear because i think that i think that collaboration I think that is the key to I think personally the key to sustainability full stop. I was on a meeting this week with IEMA fellows and a my two pennies worth was we as sustainability professionals need to work together in order to help organisations be more sustainable. I think that tech get that ego taken away, put it, put it in a cupboard and work forwards because I think that's the best thing that you can possibly do. Because I think we've all got strong skill sets, haven't we? We've all got, we all have our attributes, and I think working with them and working alongside each other.
Carolina Miranda - 05:28
Yeah, absolutely. I would agree with that, especially since sustainability is such a broad field. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you're, and you can go really deep into any area, like obviously, you've gone really deep in terms of carbon footprint, and really understanding that and there's people who really go deep on waste reduction, and we have zero waste specialists and then there's people who go really deep on energy and so you have people who understand the ins and outs of you know how to optimise H HVAC systems and you know, you're basically moving into mechanical engineering territory. And then on the social side, there are areas that people can go very deep on as well, right? You have people who can go really deep and have expertise in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion or people who really understand, you know, how to include social and environmental performance in HR departments. And so, I view my role, I would say my superpower is really being able to understand how all of these pieces fit together within what a company is doing overall. And then also be never able to recognise, you know, who has expertise that is going to better serve my clients, that it's going to make sense for me to be able to partner with them. So you know, obviously, what you're doing, you know, it's a wonderful partnership, and then the more that we can we collectively as sustainability professionals identify who has expertise in this area, who has expertise in that area, then we basically strengthen the network. And what we can do. And this is really what I strive to do is help the businesses that we're working with to be able to bring these practices into their organisations more quickly and more effectively. So they don't have to spend their wheels, you know, running searches online trying to figure out how to how do we do this. There's already enough knowledge and information and tools and resources out there that can show people how to do it, what we have to do as consultants, this is what I view is my role is being able to take all of this information, all of these best practices that are out there and make it so that a company can bring this in house they can start to apply this and and that ultimately is what's going to drive change is having companies take action on all of these different areas.
Will Richardson - 08:00
Yeah, I think that's really I think that is really, really important. And so going back to more your data and really, really want to kind of understand some examples of companies that you've gone through, so that we can give real, you know, real life examples, because I think it's always really nice. If you're listening to this and you want to become more purpose driven. What are the first steps that you think someone should do? And how do you how do you overcome? Maybe senior management aren't totally convinced on it? Or either there are other barriers and what what barriers have you seen and how have you ever how have they been overcome?
Carolina Miranda - 08:43
Yeah, well, you've just touched upon one of the biggest ones, which is basically lack of support from the CEO or senior management. When I've seen sustainability programmes run into roadblocks, it's really when they don't have that support from above, because that's basically creates a bottleneck that limits the amount of resources that are available to employees to then develop their programme. So, one of the things that I do when I work with clients on developing sustainability action plans is actually taking a close look at, you know, what is the level of support, you know, it has a CEO really specified that sustainability is a priority and allocated resources, which is basically staff and budget in order to do this, you know, has somebody at the senior management level been designated as the pert the point person on the sustainability programme, so that you start actually looking not just at sustainability in terms of, you know, let's switch over to LED lights and let's, you know, switch over to renewable energy, those things are obviously important, but those are, you know, innovative rule projects that can be undertaken they're not necessarily embedding sustainability into the company culture and creating a foundation to build upon. So, so that's, that's really important. Generally what I'll tell people when they're saying, you know, we really want to do this, but we don't have the support from management is to start small. So I recommend starting a green team or a sustainability committee. You know, very few CEOs will say, you know, we're absolutely going to block our employees from you know, forming a group like that. And then there are a lot of little things that green team can do, you know, sometimes it might be like switching over purchasing or it might be like, you know, organising employees around new alternatives. You know, those are important things and they're good small steps. For a team to take, if they don't yet have full management support, and then hopefully they can start to, you know, build a little by little and kind of raise awareness in the organisation and start to get more more support that they need to actually take on some more. You know, ambitious initiatives.
Will Richardson - 11:19
Do you find that people are really driven by one person? Or is it a, you've mentioned green teams? Is it a collective of people and? And are you finding that, and I don't want to say movement, because it sounds like a cult. And I used to joke that the B Corp was a cult when I first when we first became a B Corp. I don't know what it's like in the US, but it was very culty over here, and in a good way, of course, we'll call but I guess as a cult, you're always gonna say it's in a good way. We just watch you but yeah, I guess I'm just do you feel that there's more of an appetite for it?
Carolina Miranda - 12:09
Yeah, I'd say definitely there's a lot more awareness and interest. And I think that people are at different points in their sustainability journey, but I'm seeing an increase at all levels. So at the early stage, what you see are businesses saying, you know, we, we know we need to do something around sustainability, we're just not sure what and so they will reach out to me and that's generally generally when I'll help them with like a sustainability plan. Interestingly enough, most of those clients are kind of fitting a very specific profile. They're generally around two to 500 employees and they are looking into developing their sustainability programme because they're hearing about it from their employees. So employees Because you're saying, hey, what what are we going to do around this? and management doesn't really have a good answer for that. And so they're looking into, okay, how do we begin to develop a sustainability programme and begin to actually develop a strategy around sustainability. Kind of farther along the spectrum. Our clients that I work with on B Corp certification, and so they're the ones that are generally they're all in, like sustainability, social impact, we know all of this is important. We want to take it to the next level, and we want to get certified as as a B corp. And in those cases, there's a very high level of motivation that I think is really been driven by the movement that the B Corp community is building, you know, worldwide. So a lot of people are really wanting to be a part of that movement and a lot of people, particularly in with consumer facing brands, they're recognising that consumers are recognising what the B Corp certification stands for and to once consumers start looking for that, then the brands have a big incentive to actually start working on that to
Will Richardson - 14:19
That, and that Funny enough, that communication piece around that is quite different with different cultures, as well, when you're saying around the world. I know one of the things that we noticed that what B Corp have become quite good at now is they're becoming more UK centric in the UK, because we were passed on quite early on quite a lot of the messages. And I didn't particularly care about it, I think partly because I've lived in the US and lived in North America. But there was you could see the difference in branding. Different messaging. And I think it's quite important. And it's weird because it's, it's kind of saying the same thing, but in a different way. It's really weird.
Carolina Miranda - 15:12
Yeah, I don't I can't really speak too much to that...
Will Richardson - 15:18
I don't even know I brought it up to me honestly, I was just kind of thing. I was just remembering the videos, the only on the videos. I thought they're brilliant. But they were very kinda Yeah. And I think the British are a bit more reserved, and we can't have such kind of charisma and appetites for this. We have to go into this, thinking about it and being a bit more quiet about it. But seriously, anyway. If you could offer one piece of advice to our listeners, which could help them with their purpose, what would that be?
Carolina Miranda - 15:57
Yeah, I would say You know, the biggest thing is, is really to think about what you want your company to stand for, you know, what, what is it that makes your company different and unique. There's a lot of, you know, tools and resources and articles that kind of well guide you through figuring out your purpose. There's, you know, consultants who can help with that. But I think at the end of the day, most people want to do good, and most people want to feel good about what they're doing. And so to really be able to look and say, you know, are we doing everything that we can, are we acting in a way that is aligned with what I believe? You know, those are the questions that I think that you know, CEOs and managers, you know, can be asking themselves because employees are, are asking themselves that, you know, we know that employees want to work with places that align with their values. Certainly, there's a lot of data that shows that, you know, Generation Z and the millennials are all about purpose. Although, as someone who is not Generation Z, I also believe that others are also, you know, driven by values and purpose. And so I think that having those asking those questions, and really being thoughtful and intentional about the answers can kind of free up some, some creativity and if somebody needs, you know, more of an incentive. You know, there's a lot of data out there that shows that obviously, consumers are being very intentional about the companies that they're choosing to support. And yeah, and so I think that that's really what it comes down to. It's pretty useful.
Will Richardson - 17:54
It's really useful and when it comes down to reducing The environmental impacts and carbon footprint of a business, what would you say that biggest single challenge or frustration could be?
Carolina Miranda - 18:13
Well, there's a lot but I had to choose one, I would say that so much of our society has just been developed without thinking about lowered carbon emissions. And so, so here in the US, for example, I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has a lot of access to public transit. You know, it's a densely populated urban area. You don't have to drive for miles. But even here, there are limits that you run into, you know, you can live without a car, but you know, we still have a car and we still have to use it to get to some places and so our our end infrastructure has just been developed for, you know, 50 years ago and what made sense 50 years ago. And I think that now, you know, we're at a point where with all of these areas, you know, whether it's transit, or whether it's food or whether it's purchases, you know, so much is so carbon intensive, and what we're really trying to do is really kind of push back against, you know, systems that have been in place for the last hundred years. And, and so that's, I would say the the challenge is changing, changing that changing behaviour, changing mindset. That said, I also am not too much of a cynic and I do recognise that there's a lot of progress being made and you know, that gives me hope, and I do think that you know, in the long run, we are going to see enough of a shift to be able to, you know, hopefully mitigate the worst of the climate crisis.
Will Richardson - 20:07
How do you think we, as a collective can change that infrastructure? Because I don't think it is just the US. Because you, you've spoken about so many different cities in the UK. And I would imagine, we've got listeners all over the world, they will, that will also resonate with them with with where they live. So how do we as individuals? And I, this may not be an answer that any of either of us can answer, that's certainly not something I can answer. How do we change that? But what what do we do to know, to be more sustainable?
Getting out of it?
Carolina Miranda - 20:51
Yeah, I mean, I think that we just need to take action on all levels and individually at whatever level, we can so what I mean by that is, you know, certainly the choices, the personal choices that we all make, you know, do have an impact. And so it does start there with being aware of our own personal carbon footprint, the environmental impacts and social impacts of, you know, the way that we live, the things that we do, the companies that we buy from being very intentional about saying, I'm going to buy from this company and not from that company, because I like what this first company is doing. Their consumers have tremendous, tremendous power. And I think we sometimes underestimate that. So I would say, first of all, it starts at the individual level. Second of all, beyond that, because changes needed at so many different levels. I think that you know, people have to choose what level are they going to operate at. So for some people, it's going to be, you know, I'm going to change my company, and what my company's doing. For some of us, like myself, like you, it's going to be we're going to not only change our own companies, but we're also going to support other companies and making change. For other people, it's going to be operating at the policy level. You know, I don't, I don't work on policy, but I know that there's very talented and passionate people who do that work. And that's a very important work, you know, for others, it's going to be, you know, working at NGOs, to you know, keep us all accountable, right. And there's really good work taking place within you know, the nonprofit sector. So I think that ultimately, it's not going to be any one single group or any one single individual obviously, but the, the problem is fast enough that you need to basically tackle it on all fronts.
Will Richardson - 22:58
Okay, and Finally what's, um, like, Where can we find out more information about you? And what can we Yeah. So how do we find out more about Carolina Miranda?
Carolina Miranda - 23:12
Well, thank you. So my website is cultivatingcapital.com. And you know, I have a lot of information there. There's a small business guide to sustainable business practices that has a number of articles freely available for anybody who is starting on this journey. And I'm also on LinkedIn so people can also look me up. And you know, you're welcome to send me a note. Let me know that they heard about me on this podcast, I'd love to connect.
Will Richardson - 23:42
Brilliant. Brilliant. Thank you so much. Thank you very much for your time today and it's been really interesting. Talking to you.
Carolina Miranda - 23:49
Thank you. Will.
Will Richardson - 23:52
Today we've got Karolina Miranda on from cultivating capital. She's a pretty inspiring individual. Running a B Corp purpose driven business since 2012. So one of the first people to and organisations become B Corp. Which is kind of testament that you know you are listening to someone that lives and breathes what she is talking to us about. So I really hope you enjoy this podcast. Thank you so much
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Hi! I'm Will Richardson. I'm the host of the Sustainability Business Podcast and the founder of Green Element. With over 20 years of experience, my team and I can truly help your business become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Book a free consultation to have a chat about how your organisation can embrace the change towards sustainability.