Anyone who cares about corporate social responsibility should be excited about what the B Corps movement is doing to change the game.
B Corp is a certification given to businesses that meet exacting standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The nonprofit B Lab describes B Corps as being to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.
Today, more than 1,000 companies in 33 countries and over 60 industries are certified B Corps, and the numbers are steadily growing. (Recently, the B Corps community added one more to its ranks: Causecast, the corporate volunteer portal I’m proud to lead.) Together, B Corps companies are inspiring others to redefine success in business.
There are so many reasons to become a B Corp, and it’s not only to save the world. Although that’s certainly one significant benefit. But the B Lab points out other bottom-line benefits as well:
- Attracting and engaging talent
- Generating press
- Attracting investors
- Saving money and accessing services
- Differentiating from pretenders
- Participating in the B Corps ad campaigns
The B Lab encourages all companies to compete not just to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. That means being the best for its workers, best for the community, and best for the environment.
But of all the best practices in the B Corps toolkit, which are the most important? The B Lab asked its top Best for the World honorees what they thought were the #1 practices that all companies should implement. Here was the consensus on which considerations yielded the most positive social impact:
Not to be confused with a minimum wage, a living wage is what a person needs to support himself or his family. The exact number fluctuates according to geographic region, but the result is the same: a living wage benefits the worker, business, community and overall economy.
Formalize Charitable Commitments
This one resonates deeply with me as it’s the crux of Causecast’s mission: helping companies establish a more effective and meaningful relationship with nonprofits. A big part of this relationship is the one that’s developed by a company’s best brand ambassadors – its employees. Creating a strong volunteer and giving program – one that’s supported by dynamic tools that increase employee participation and engagement – is one way that companies create a culture of impact that benefits recipient and givers alike.
Resource & Waste Management
B Lab’s Best for Environment honorees were the most emphatic about reducing our collective carbon footprint as the top priority for companies. Reducing water, supply and packaging usage; reusing when possible; recycling always – all of these steps can make a dramatic difference.
Supply Chain Management
Being a socially responsible company also means choosing socially responsible vendors, according to many of the Best for the World honorees. When you set standards for your supply chain, you send a message to your employees, customers and community at large about how seriously you take your commitment to be a good corporate citizen.
Transparency and the Triple-Bottom Line
Examining how a company frames its business model is another area that many honorees noted. Transparency around financials is one practice that companies pointed to as culture-changing. Beyond that, transparency around environmental impact and policies as well as volunteering and giving brings discipline and focus to these areas and encourages others to follow suit. Committing to a triple bottom line decision mode was also emphasized, as it encourages companies to incorporate social good metrics into their overall performance.
What’s clear to me is that when company leaders demonstrate that they care about the people and communities that surround them, they set their organizations apart and strengthen them in every way. You build a culture not by talking but by doing, and all of the B Corps companies are leading by example. The B Corps movement is creating higher quality jobs, passing laws, driving capital, and leveraging capitalism to cause change.
As businesses join forces to help solve the most important issues of our time, it’s an exciting moment to support the cultural sea change taking hold in Corporate America. I’m proud to be engaged in this important work, pleased to classify Causecast as a B Corps, and as motivated as ever to encourage other company leaders to embrace their full potential for impact.