Why our business became a B Corp
Richard Foster discusses B Corporations, and how the social enterprise movement is making a difference for businesses.
In the groundswell of emotions and tributes following the recent passing of Muhammad Ali, there is one quote from this truly remarkable man that has taken on even greater significance for myself – and I’m guessing countless others.
“Don’t count the days. Make the days count.”
Such an eloquent and powerful sentiment. It’s a sentiment that many of us will challenge ourselves with as we seek a path in business. How can we truly make a difference in the work we do?
Myself and fellow business owners Jim and Michelle, have certainly asked ourselves this question since forming Tank in 1997.
It led us to wanting to work with purpose-driven leaders who are driven to create positive social impact. Leaders who stand for something.
It also led us to B Corporation.
B corporations are leaders of the global movement of people using business as a force for good. Think of it like this: B Corp certification is to sustainable business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee.
LEARN MORE: Learn how brands are partnering with social enterprises for shared value, and why many businesses are pursuing B Corporation certification in ‘The Marketer’s Guide to Social Enterprise’. Get it here »
There are now more than 1,700 B Corporations in over 130 industries and 50 countries with one unifying goal – to redefine success in business. Although in its infancy in Australia (the number of B corporations now stands at 130) Tank is in good company with the likes of Patagonia, Ben and Jerry’s, Etsy, Kickstarter, The School of Life, Keep Cup, Whole Kids and Tom Organic.
This is not another CSR initiative or about being a green business. It has far greater meaning and importance than that. Because it takes a holistic view of the performance of the organisation, measuring impact on all stakeholders – that means staff, suppliers, community, customers and the environment.
This is summed up by one of the main forces behind the B Corporation movement – Patagonia’s CEO Rose Marcario who stated; ‘The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders – it has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet.’
It’s a rigorous process, requiring the organisation to meet a benchmarked level of performance across areas of governance and workforce through to the impact of its business model. This needs to be repeated every two years to maintain certification.
It was this effort around certification which appealed to us at Tank. And the level of transparency and accountability required. If it was easy to become a B Corporation, it would be meaningless.
So what can it mean for your business?
It is a key proof point of your organisation’s promise to make a difference. It sets a benchmark for performance that is transparent and accountable. That was critical for us, as we can’t say to our clients that we believe creativity has the power to change the world and then not prove it.
It puts the focus on your organisation’s purpose and values, placing them front and centre. It gives your people and clients confidence and belief that you just don’t talk the talk, or check your values at the door, you live and breathe them everyday.
Also, being a certified B Corp is not about being warm and fuzzy. Yes, it’s about having a positive impact.
But it also offers a clear competitive advantage. In an age where meaning is taking on much greater value than price, especially for the consumer, the need for substance behind purchase decisions will become even stronger. And the want to purchase from, or work with, a proven ‘good business’.
Finally, you’re part of a global community of organisations who are united in their will to not just be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world. This shouldn’t be underestimated – having a strength in numbers to network, gather, support and inspire.
This is reiterated by Alicia Darvall, executive director of B Lab Australia and New Zealand. B Lab is the not-for-profit organisation that serves and certifies B Corporations.
“B Corps represent an emerging group of companies that are using the power of business to create a positive impact on the world. They have a social or environmental mission at their core and hold themselves to greater transparency. They are for-profit businesses, trying to use their business operations to save the world but the certification process means they have to demonstrate they’re walking the talk; that it’s not greenwashing,” says Alicia.
Achieving certification is just the start. It’s what you do as a B Corporation which is important.
For Tank, we want to work with purpose-driven businesses and leaders who are driven to create positive social impact. That share similar values to us around diversity, equality and inclusion and are not afraid to put their line in the sand.
Being a B Corp is our line in the sand. It sends out a clear message of the type of business we want to be and work with. That we stand for something, that we’re accountable, and that we’re on the right track.
It’s about wanting to make every day count – in our working and personal lives.
* * * * *
Get your copy of ‘The Marketer’s Guide to Social Enterprise’ trend briefing for in-depth insight into what responsible consumption and the B Corp movement means for all brands.
* * * * *