Can businesses help solve the biggest societal and environmental challenges we’ve ever faced? Especially considering the huge part business has played in creating these challenges? B Corp says Yes… but there are some strings…
A good chunk of my working day is spent talking to businesses that want to know more about B Corp. If you’re thinking about it, let me emphasise that this is no small decision. B Corp will challenge you to evidence the impact you are making by using business as a force for good. This is not a vanity exercise for marketing purposes, nor just a nice badge of honour that will attract new customers. B Corp will hold up a mirror and ask whether or not you can say, hand on heart, that you will do authentic and measurable things to improve the lives of people and the planet. That you will no longer prioritise profit over planet and people.
Historically, the business sector has accelerated social inequity, fuelled human rights violations, and laid the foundations for climate change. With a global cultural shift underway, are businesses truly evolving from being the drivers of humanity’s biggest problems to drivers of positive and inclusive change?
Are we being idealistic to think the business world can address the pivotal challenges it has played – and continues to play – in creating? From uplifting marginalised communities to reducing the damage of consumer products, to ending the food waste that could alleviate the hunger of almost a billion people.
The B Corp movement is pulling out all the stops to find out. This is no time to gloss over the reality of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into, nor can we shy away from the difficult and honest conversations. Choosing the B Corp certification road for your business is a big decision. It’s the start of a journey that will hopefully never end as your organisation improves, year on year, in being a force for good that restores the health of our planet and works to drive social equality all over the globe.
By choosing to be a B Corp, you are declaring that you will no longer profit from the suffering of others, be they the Bangladeshi women working in clothing factories, or the cows crammed into the massive factory farms of America.
Being a B Corp business means no longer profiting from exploitation, extraction and emissions. Do not fool yourself into thinking this is an easy thing to do. We’ve created a system that makes it difficult not to pollute and degrade with even our smallest daily activities. From cooking eggs for breakfast on a gas range, to taking the kids to school in our petrol-fuelled car, we have woven fossil fuel combustion into every aspect of our lives.
Our entire economic system is built on foundations of exploitation as well as on the lie that endless economic growth is possible and desirable. In nature, if something just grows and grows, it’s called ‘cancer’. In essence, this is traditional capitalism.
Can the business world really undo centuries of programming that worship the bottom line of profit above all else?
By taking the B Corp road, you are saying, ‘Yes, I believe businesses can be run differently. I believe businesses can be modelled on restoration rather than degradation. I believe we can create a socially just society and a healthy planet.’
And it’s okay that we are still working out how we’re going to do this. It’s okay that we don’t have all the answers yet – we’ll find the answers if we keep asking the tough questions. And that is what your B Corp journey is about… it’s about tussling over those difficult questions specific to your organisation; it’s about discussing and debating and learning, evolving and transforming.
The key is to embrace the process of this metamorphosis. Stick with it when the road gets bumpy and celebrate your breakthroughs, big and small.
If you let it, the B Corp journey will be more rewarding, enriching and fulfilling than any satisfaction previously garnered through reporting annual profits to shareholders.
Ready to take the plunge towards becoming a B Corp business? Let the Greener Matter team guide you through the process on our 10-Step B Corp Buddy journey. Click here.