In a full centre stage at Pausefest, Andrea De Almeida, Executive Director of B Lab ANZ excited the room with the buzz that it is not just possible to do good and make money, it is, in fact, the future of business. She was joined by a range of B Corp leaders including Stone and Wood, Dumbo Feather, Toms Shoes and Intrepid Travel.
What is a B Corporation?
B Corporation is an independent accreditation for businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Ok. So what is B Lab?
B Lab is the crew who conduct the accreditation, manage the data and build the community of business changemakers. The framework to measure the business which leads to accreditation is called the B Impact Assessment.
They are not just an accreditation provider. The broader organisation is committed to a range of activities that change the capitalist system to unlock new forms of value beyond just the traditional financial measure of success.
If you’re thinking about becoming a B Corp, it could completely revolutionise your business, your supply chains and your customers!
Here are 3 things to know.
1. It is not about looking good, it is about being good.
The purpose of the accreditation is to change the core operations, practices and principles of the business. By building a holistic picture of a company’s impact through their actions, it creates an authentic avenue to discuss social change with customers.
Corporate responsibility programs only show one tiny area of a business, whereas becoming accredited as a B Corp shows genuine business wide change.
2. Currently, B Corp is only an accreditation, not a legal company structure.
Currently in Australia there is no legal company structure available that supports a business that balances purpose and profit. B Lab is advocating in the Australian parliament for a new legal structure that will offer entrepreneurs and investors a legal framework to build and invest in businesses that meet higher standards of corporate purpose, accountability, and transparency. ‘The Benefit Company’ is the legal structure that will underpin the B Corp accreditation. They are not the same thing but work hand in hand to help businesses be unlocked as a force for good.
3. Accreditation is hard work but it creates a framework to continually do better
Leigh Barnes, Chief Purpose Officer at Intrepid Travel spoke about their experience of becoming a B Corp. It took 3 years (although the average timeframe is much less!) to get accredited but the process helped them understand their supply chain across their 23 subsidiaries in over 120 countries.
He said that becoming a B Corp helped them get back on track. It created a framework for them to see the world and understand their impact in new ways. Their accreditation was not just a static score in time. It provided them with insights and tools to continually improve the impact of their operations and practices.
It led them to stop their visits to elephant parks that treat animals poorly in Thailand and prompted them to start a female empowerment program to help women globally become business owners.
Great. Love it. So, what’s next?
1.You can sign up for an account at B Impact Assessment. This provides an understanding of the assessment framework and process.
2. You can pledge your support for the legislation to create a Benefit Company structure here. Do it! Be part of a pivotal change for business in Australia!
One final thought for today came from a member of the Pausefest panel about ‘The New Economy’:
You vote every 4 years for a Government, but you vote every day with your dollars.
Let’s use our vote wisely.