Welcome to Season Two of the BSuite Podcast! This season will focus on B Corporations, highlighting inspirational leaders who have chosen a purpose-driven path for their companies.
In this episode, Anne Richardson, Principal and Media Director of Richardson Media Group, interviews an amazing leader who has chosen a purpose-driven path for her company. Becca Houghton is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Stratus Telecom in Portland, Maine. Stratus Telecom is a business phone service provider company focusing on small to medium-sized businesses. Like Anne, they are members of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. In this episode, Becca dives into what it means to identify as a purpose-driven company.
Listen and discover as Becca and Anne compare notes on the unique challenges small teams face while working toward B Corp certification, the importance of integrity, and the value of creating space for all team voices to be heard.
Enjoy yet another unique and supportive episode of the BSuite Podcast!
How Stratus Telecom began their journey toward purpose and passion in the heart of a pandemic.
Stratus Telecom is a family-owned business that launched not long ago, during the COVID summer of 2020. Before jumping into this new venture, Becca Houghton and her partner Dave had been working towards launching a business mentoring program. On opening day, the pandemic hit and all their plans were thwarted. In an unexpected turn of events, Dave’s brother, Dan, reached out to the couple about starting a company together.
The three partners hit the ground running, put systems in place, nourished a thriving client base, and ultimately began to flourish despite challenges imposed by the global pandemic.
Once the excitement subsided, Becca realized something was missing. Her day to day routines felt monotonous and she lacked a sense of joy and purpose. Leaning into his background in sustainability, Dave suggested they apply for their B Corp certification. Becca recalls thinking, “No way, there’s no way this fits us, there’s no way we can do the amount of work that this takes.” Despite her doubts, it wasn’t long before they embraced the concept of incorporating sustainability into the foundation of their new business.
Aligning your business with who you are and what you do.
Throughout her college years, Becca studied peace and reconciliation, discovering a pull to bring harmony into the world through personal practices. Later on, this led to a fascination with Ayurveda, meditation, and yoga, which she incorporated into her day-to-day life as holistic self-care practices.
After reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and experiencing some personal epiphanies, Becca better understood how daily rituals can inform and influence daily work life in a profound and important way.
Becca and Anne talk about how their identities as women, mothers and entrepreneurs guide their approach to business and life in general. Becca feels motivated to lift up more female voices. She says, the more voices you bring to the table, the better.
An example of this was her strategic decision to collaborate with Sue Schoenfeld, a local businesswoman and founding member of Beyond Payments, a payment processing company focused on community. Sue’s work aligned with Stratus’ company values and as a result, they chose Sue to manage their payment processing services, ultimately creating a ripple effect of Stratus supporting small businesses and receiving that same support in return.
For Becca, her drive to attain B Corp status stems in large part from her vision to empower and create space for other local women in the corporate world.
Emphasizing sustainability and diversity.
Stratus Telecom is committed to creating a more diverse workplace. Navigating this journey as a small team has also meant seeking clarity on hiring practices as the company begins to grow.
Some of the questions Becca asks include, “How do we hire a diverse team ethically?” If Stratus Telecom shares a job opportunity for a Technical Support Specialist, they know very few women and even fewer people of color will apply. How do they honor that process and bring people of different backgrounds onto the team?
It’s a question they haven’t fully answered yet, but it’s a problem they are working to solve.
What values does your company hold close? Knowing those values is a key catalyst for growth, change, and positive impact. Living those values leads to a higher standard for all businesses, and a challenge to operate in new and more responsible ways..
Each week, Becca deploys a meaningful meeting format called a “circle process” where everyone on the team takes turns facilitating the discussion, and every team member has the opportunity to speak and listen. It’s a simple practice that gives everyone an equal voice.