The Personal Side of Working for a Benefit Corporation

Paul Andre Levesque

On Saturday, May 3, 2014, my father had a massive stroke. My parents live about 375 miles away. My four siblings and I are scattered throughout the East coast. We all arrived Saturday or Sunday, to be by his side as he entered his hospice journey. When my father took his last breath on May 9, 2014, I was able to be by his side, fully present. I was able to stay and help my mother cope with her enormous loss. I had the support of my family as we all gathered to grieve.

Recently much as been written on B or Benefit Corporations and the concept to of ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment). I am fortunate to co-own and work for such a company — YIKES, Inc., a web design and development company in Philadelphia.

YIKES started in 1996 with the concept of creating a company that the three co-founders would want to work for. This led to the realization that we were what was becoming called “a sustainable business.” Joining the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia in 2003, we found like-minded business who adhere to the triple-bottom line of People, Planet, Profit. YIKES even won a Triple Bottom Line award in 2005.

In 2010, we became a Certified B Corporation. Being a B Corporation allows us to share our philosophy of the power of business to do good, to change the world for the better. YIKES, Inc. has an excellent reputation for conducting its business activities with integrity, fairness, and in accordance with the highest ethical standards. In 2013 YIKES, Inc. was among the first companies to become a Pennsylvania Benefit Corporation, furthering our commitment. YIKES, Inc. was just recertified as B Corporation in March, 2014. But anyone can learn more about B Corporations online.

What I want to talk about is what has this has meant to me over the past 3 weeks. As I sit here on my final day before I return to work, I want to acknowledge mostly my co-workers who are so competent and compassionate that I could do what I needed to do, which was to be with my father, my mother, and all my siblings. That our families where together to say goodbye, to honor my father with a dignified death and funeral, to give each other the support we needed.

When I go back to work tomorrow, I will check in with all my clients who are are very important as well. They are not just the lifeline of our business, but many are long-term colleagues from our many years in business. I know that there may have been bumps and disruptions in the projects I manage, as my co-workers stepped in without any foresight or planning, which is possible when one takes a vacation but not in an emergency situation.

I end this with the hope that this concept of life-work balance continues to become the norm. That more workers won’t have to make hard choices about work over people, adding stress to one of the most difficult times we humans face — the loss of someone we love. In my sadness and grief, I know that when I remember this time, it will be without regret because people do come first. I had the support to make this happen. I will carry a deep gratitude to all those who gave me this gift. It is not one that enough American workers get, but one that I believe, as a business owner, is possible.

Paul Andre Levesque

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