The concept of responsible business has never been more popular. Everywhere you look, business leaders, entrepreneurs and executives are extolling the virtues of being better in a whole host of ways.
They’re vowing to be fairer, greener, more selfless and caring, but how do we sort the truly committed from the fairweather do-gooder? How do we hold businesses and individuals to account and ensure that they’re really putting their hard-earned money where their well-intentioned mouth is? The answer might be B Corps.
Back in 2006, a trio of Stanford University Graduates in California set up B Lab, an organisation that provides certification for companies that truly operate in the interest of the wider good of society.
Corporations that are awarded the coveted seal are known as B Corps. They’re required to have proven social and environmental performances, and to demonstrate that they consider factors like sustainability, inequality and impact on local communities in everything they do.
B Corps started off as a rare breed, but in recent years they’ve gone mainstream, and the social and environmental awareness raised by the Covid-19 crisis are likely to accelerate that trend. Today well over 3,000 B Corps exist across more than 70 countries and there’s a good chance we’ve all bought a product or a service from one. Picked up some lotion or shower gel from the Body Shop? Grabbed a copy of the Guardian from the newsagent? Indulged in some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? B Corps are everywhere and as B Lab’s presence and recognition grows, companies that haven’t yet come across the concept should sit up and take note - particularly as the coronavirus subsides.
“As we recover from the pandemic, businesses around the world will be looking to rebuild in a way that puts their people first and protects the communities and the environment on which they rely,” Chris Turner, managing director of B Lab in the UK recently told Forbes.
“B Corps have already inspired thousands of businesses to be a force for good, and the example they set is now more important than ever,” he added.
Turner also said that “governments are recognising the systemic flaws that have damaged the planet and left people vulnerable in this crisis, and as global leaders search for a better alternative, B Corps provide a model for a regenerative economy that works for all”.
There’s also no restriction on the sector or size of a company in order for it to qualify for the certification. While some existing B Corps are household names and global brands, others are not. One fascinating company that recently joined the B Corp club is London-based Rubies in the Rubble, a sustainable food brand that produces high quality relishes and jams out of surplus produce that would otherwise go to waste.
Becoming a B Corp might also be a fast track way to enhance employee engagement, commitment and even wellbeing.
A multitude of studies show that individuals are more likely to be motivated and satisfied by their job if they consider their professional efforts to contribute to a broader social goal. Every business at its very core is powered by humans so keeping employees on board should always be a top priority.
Josie Cox For Workculturati