A Unique Business Model for a Better World

During our search for companies with similar values we found BetterWorld Telecom, a company with a very unique business model. Better World Telecom and Nearsoft are both part of the WorldBlu’s list of Most Democratic Workplaces 2009. We interviewed Matt Bauer, President and Co-founder.

BeterWorld TelecomNearsoft: Can you tell us what is BetterWorld Telecom?

Matthew Bauer: BetterWorld Telecom is a leading voice for sustainability in the U.S. telecom carrier marketplace, focused primarily on organizations whose missions revolve around social and environmental sustainability.   We are the only telco in the U.S. that has adopted corporate democracy at the core of everything we do and it is in this vein we provide solutions to over 1,000 organizations and more than 40,000 employees nationwide such as Patagonia, Whole Foods, The Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace, Easter Seals, and Goodwill.  
We donate 3% of revenues to causes for children, education, the environment and fair trade, while offering a unique & personal service model. We are the only carrier certified by B Corporation (founding member), One Percent for the Planet, Worldblu’s List of Most Democratic Workplaces, and the first U.S. carrier to achieve carbon neutral status.

Nearsoft: Can you tell us what is behind the slogan “Change the World. One Call at a Time™”?

MB: When we started BetterWorld in 2002, we established Change the World. One Call at a Time™ as our clarion call to prospects and customers.  By using BetterWorld’s services, they are aligning their mission and values for the environment and social causes with their dollars, instead of utilizing the mainstream companies in the U.S. telecom carrier industry.  As BetterWorld is the only triple bottom line telecom carrier in the U.S., focused 100% on organizations that have environmental and social missions, our customers know that we take a significant portion of revenues and donate them to causes that benefit children, education, the environment and fair trade. In addition, we also offset ALL of their voice and data traffic and usage that traverses BetterWorld’s network, through our innovative partnership with Climate Cooler.  

Nearsoft: What is BetterWork™ and what are its benefits?

MB: BetterWork™ is an enterprise-wide solution that physically provides substitutions for commuting, travel and building activities through the implementation and adoption of technologies such as voice/video/audio conferencing, virtual PBX, VoIP and unified communications—combined with connectivity and quality of service. BetterWorld is advising and implementing cloud-based voice and data solutions for organizations nationwide such as GreenpeaceUSA, Green America and Grants Management Systems as to how they can significantly reduce their operational overhead and environmental footprints, thus creating more sustainable enterprises.

Nearsoft: What makes BetterWorld Telecom a democratic company?

MB: BetterWorld is an extremely flat organization, with little or no top down management – some examples of democracy in action at BetterWorld include: All employees over two years are owners; all internal data at BetterWorld is available to any employee anytime, including salaries. BetterWorld’s salary transparency helps guarantee that the difference between the highest and lowest paid employees remains less than a multiple of four. Furthermore, the pay scale is not defined by traditional definitions of authority and power. For example, the President of BetterWorld is not the highest paid employee.

Another example is that at the end of each week, all BetterWorld employees email their Achievements & Objectives reports to all other staff members. In the report, they share what they accomplished the prior week and their specific goals for the upcoming week. This practice helps provide accountability, transparency, and focus for the team. Then, at our Monday morning all-hands meeting, each team member reports on their top three Achievements and top three Objectives.

Nearsoft: Can you tell us what makes your business model so unique?

MB: BetterWorld Telecom has a unique business model as the only triple bottom line telecom carrier in North America focused on serving organizations with similar missions. Corporate democracy is key to everything we do. One of our key elements of success is transparency, breaking down the age-old, hierarchical, and insufficient, service model in the $1.5 trillion voice and data carrier industry. By not functioning in the traditional, assembly line mode as most other carriers in the world do today, but rather, as craftsmen, our customers are able to interact with us on a much more meaningful level. We actually help them do what they do best, making it a better world.

Nearsoft: What is the impact that you have experienced due to the company’s democratic approach?

MB: Very high employee and customer satisfaction are at the top the list.  From a metrics standpoint, BetterWorld’s customer churn (a common telecom industry term that describes the rate at which customers leave) is below 1%, whereas the industry average is near 7%. This can be attributed largely to our employee empowerment, their own satisfaction and passion for our customer’s needs an mission–which would not be possible without a democratic environment within the company.

Nearsoft: Finally, what is the link between the idea of being a democratic and a green organization?

MB: Democratic and green seem to flow together naturally. As a founding B Corporation member, BetterWorld determines all major corporate decisions and initiatives transparently through the lens of its triple-bottom-line focus on people, planet, and profits, a fundamental B Corp tenet. The company donates 3% of company revenues to social and environmental causes, and each employee donates 1.5 days per month during work hours to community causes. In addition, BetterWorld is the first carrier in the U.S. to achieve carbon neutral status. All of these elements combine to provide a simple reference for each employee to make decisions that will affect any of the company’s stakeholders.

About BetterWorld Telecom

http://www.betterworldtelecom.com/aboutUs/

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