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B Corps: the way to a sustainable future?

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or Organic certification is to milk.

What Is A Benefit Corporation Or B Corp?

When I think of corporations or big companies I used to think they’re all about making huge profits with little integrity for people and the planet, except for the product or service they provide. Well sometimes at least. Or even much of the time.

In today’s world we are so much more aware of the impact big business has on the environment and people, for example, with the plastic epidemic, clearing of indigenous forest for more meat production, and mining in first world countries creating devastation. Then there’s sweat shops that produce cheap clothes from child labour and gender-based pay inequity just to name a few.

But not all businesses are so irresponsible. Some have a moral code and are striving for a better deal for all.

Millennials in business

B Corps & Millennials

There is a growing trend in the world for those either working in business or purchasing products and services to contribute to a more sustainable world.

In the most recent Deloitte Millennials survey, almost 40% of respondents said the goal of business should be to ‘improve society’. And in an earlier study by the Intelligence Group, 64% of millennials stated it was a priority for them to make the world a better place.

These trends are encouraging the rise of a new generation of enterprises that are actively pursuing social and environmental impact alongside financial goals.

Who Started B Corps?

B Corps Founders
Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy

In 2006, three friends, Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy, left careers in business and private equity and created an organization called B Lab dedicated to making it easier for mission-driven companies to protect and improve their positive impact over time.

What Is B Lab?

B Lab is most known as the certifying agency for companies “who meet the highest standards of verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.”

B Lab founders felt that “People don’t believe the existing economic system is working for them. They’re angry, and they’re right. That’s why we’re working to build a better economy (which they coin as B Economy) that works for everyone, for the long term”.

The "B Economy"

So these guys created a list of companies across the globe called Certified B Corporations (B Corps). Currently they have enlisted over 2900 businesses, over 64 countries and 150 industries. With the use of governance tools like benefit corporation legal structure they have helped companies improve how they perform in terms of labour and environmental standards for example.

B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or Organic certification is to milk.

B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

While the early success of the B Corp movement has been driven mostly by innovative small and medium-size companies, an increasing number of larger, multinational and public companies have expressed interest in B Corp certification.

So the future looks brighter in a world where major corporations are starting to take seriously the need to care for the people, care for the Earth & a fairshare. We can all help them do that by being discerning about our purchasing. Let's buy from B Corps, Fair Trade and Organic certified businesses first. Vote with your wallet. That is the language corporations understand.

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