internship, Sustainability Program, sustainable business

Witnessing the world of sustainable business firsthand

By Katy Rettenmier

As a young student with a passion for climate justice and sustainability, it always felt like a contradiction to pursue a degree in business. From what I had witnessed, businesses didn’t necessarily operate ethically. Much of my related courses taught me about how to maximize profit and minimize costs, often at the expense of environment and social justice factors. There was no combination between people, planet and profit. In professional business settings, people rarely seemed to engage in conversations surrounding sustainability. In fact, if you asked a group of business students in my classes what the word “sustainability” means, many of them would not even associate the word with climate or the environment, but rather something along the lines of long-term growth.

"Measure Meant gave me the opportunity to serve as an intern for my final semester of college, where I got to witness the world of sustainable business firsthand."

- Katy

But as time moved forward, I started to recognize some of the changes that were happening around me regarding policy and impact. Businesses started to set climate commitments for net-zero, and consumers began holding businesses accountable for their unsustainable practices and profit-oriented thinking. Measure Meant gave me the opportunity to serve as an intern for my final semester of college, where I got to witness the world of sustainable business firsthand. In this blog, I will discuss some of the things that I saw and learned as a student in this ever-changing space of ethical business.

B Corp Impact Areas

First off, becoming a Certified B Corp is an impressive task to achieve. From the start of my internship, I had the opportunity to join a B Corp certification project for a restaurant group based out of Florida. Over a couple of months, I spent time collecting, researching and organizing data surrounding all of the many facets of the company’s ethical operations.

The B Impact assessment is organized into five main sections: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. With a wealth of data and information, I helped craft a gap analysis to understand what the company needed to do in order to achieve B Corp certification status. From something as small as the cleaning solution products in a restaurant kitchen to as broad as the overall company mission, everything has an impact. It was truly fascinating to experience first-hand all of the work that goes into a business, and I look forward to seeing this company achieve B Corp certification.

"We couldn't have been happier with Katy's contributions. She was dedicated to the leadership and was always eager to contribute meaningfully to our work."

- Mark Odegard

Another important thing I learned throughout this internship is that policy and regulation is constantly changing. From the recent SEC climate disclosure ruling to the California Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, nearly all businesses must adapt to the standards that are being implemented. Under both of these new standards, companies are required to disclose any climate-related targets or goals and evaluate their environmental impact.

The impact of these standards will be large, and companies like REI and Walmart are mirroring these requirements with their own personal standards. For instance, I had the opportunity to work alongside a textile and clothing supplier as they prepare to meet new GHG accounting standards imposed by global retailer, REI. These efforts not only hold companies accountable to the environmental impact that their businesses are creating, but also provide the space to think about potential changes that could benefit both their operations and their impact at the same time.

Cover page of B Lab's Climate Justice case studies

Finally, this internship showed me that businesses can in fact operate ethically. I had the opportunity to partner with B Lab on a case-study project, in which I got to interview a few incredible Certified B Corp companies about their climate justice impacts and co-write case-study articles to be published by B Lab. Hearing about the work at food suppliers like Riverside Natural Foods, to the houseware and cleaning company Seventh Generation, to the apparel and accessories brand Gallant International, there is plenty of evidence of sustainability in business. This internship provided the tools and capacity to understand what is needed to operate with the combination of people, planet and profit in a cohesive manner. I can now confidently say that with enough intentionality, accountability, and action, I am hopeful for the future of sustainable business.

Read More

June 5, 2024

Protect Your Business with a Climate Action Plan

Climate, climate crisis, Sustainability Program

Introduction Our changing climate impacts every aspect of our lives—our economy, our communities, and the environment—in ways both visible and unseen. While scientists and environmental organizations have long recognized

June 5, 2024

Interning with Purpose: My Journey with Measure Meant

internship, Sustainability Program

From January to May 2024, I had the distinct pleasure of working with Measure Meant as an Operations Intern. As a graduating senior at Gonzaga University, I had not planned on pursuing another internship in my final seme

May 23, 2024

Measure Your GHG Emissions as a Small Business

Greenhouse Gas, Climate, sustainability

As a small business, you may wonder why measuring your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is crucial. The reality is, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) represent over 90% of the business population, provide over 60% o

November 16, 2023

B Corps Take Climate Justice Seriously

sustainable business, Climate Justice, b lab

When B Lab launched the Climate Justice Playbook for business, the B Corp community was excited. Companies understood the principles, and wanted more examples of companies implementing climate justice initiatives. The id

Learn More.

Impact Report

Get Newsletter.

Let's do this!

Contact Us