There is a global shift in how business is transacted. It is no longer about profit margins solely. Brands are increasingly aware of the impact that they have on their workforce, the customers who buy their goods, the communities in which the business operates and the impact that they have in the world. The challenge has increasingly comprised: how do you even begin to analyse all of the aspects of your business that makes sense?
The Rise of B Corps
B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Currently, there is a growing community of more than 1,700 certified B Corps from 50 countries and over 120 industries working together towards one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
B Corporations have witnessed a global uplift and many companies are completing the free assessment (http://www.bimpactassessment.net) and looking at how they can best make a difference. Companies including Patagonia, Hootsuite, Ben and Jerrys, Danone and many more are voluntarily committing themselves to independent testing.
If you are contemplating measuring your social impact, it might be appropriate to review what you are doing as a company as a whole: not just your recently initiated world class volunteer programme but from where are the ethical supply chains; your coffee source; how sustainable and how committed is your organisation to not just being the best company in the world, but the best company for the world.
Why B Corps
The B Corporation movement gained traction in the US when a company named AND1 was sold to Nike. Before the founders handed over the keys, the culture on a Friday was to turn their head offices into a basketball arena. Employees were motivated by a start-up company that valued a positive culture. But after its sale, that culture withered and declined. The workforce was not as committed to the entire brand and gradually the positive influences of AND1 evaporated when consumed by the Nike behemoth. The Co-Founders of B Lab, Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy, share passion for creating a better world through business and have been friends for over 20 years.
(http://www.bcorporation.net) As a means of helping companies measure their social and environmental impact, they provided a test (20 mins or 90 mins) which provides an overview to each organisation of issues and challenges like diversity in their workforce, ethical banking practices, living wage commitments, sustainability programmes including recycling and more.
Find out More
Chris MM Gordon is the B Corp Ireland Partner. He is Director of Social Enterprise NI and Chair of the Irish Social Enterprise Network. Chris’s passion is for doing well and doing good. You can find out more about B Corps on www.bcorp.ie and more about social enterprises through www.socent.ie
The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of Directors in Ireland. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. The content of this blog is for information purposes only and the Institute of Directors in Ireland is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied.