How B Lab is changing the role of businesses in society
Purpose over profit
In 2006, three friends left their careers in business and private equity to create B Lab, a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping people use business to have a positive impact on society.
“We really want to invert what being a success looks like outside of generating that profit,” Gaya Subramaniam, B Lab Australia and New Zealand’s B Corp community manager, tells Mediaweek.
The goal is to redefine the purpose of business; to consider, “not just what is lawful but what is responsible and sustainable; where the first principle is not to maximise return but to preserve the natural and social systems on which all life and healthy markets depend”, B Lab founder, Jay Coen Gilbert explains.
The first principle is not to maximise return but to preserve the natural and social systems on which all life and healthy markets depend
B Lab supports a community of B Corporations: businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance and public transparency. In order to become a certified B Corp, companies must complete the B Impact Assessment, achieving a total score of 80 across all impact areas. Companies must update their assessment every three years, ensuring that they are continually engaged with their purpose, even if the business grows or changes.
Over 3000 companies spanning 150 industries are currently a certified B Corp, including large corporations like Ben & Jerries and Danone.
Building a community
Inclusivity and collaboration are integral to the B Corp movement. “The 20th century capitalism was designed to benefit the few, in the short term, to be exclusive and extractive,” explains Gilbert. Instead, B Lab proposes a new model for 21st century capitalism: “designed to benefit all, for the long term, to be inclusive, and regenerative.”
The movement pushes towards a more community-based approach to business: individual companies thinking beyond sales to the systems they are operating within, connecting networks around the world and creating a culture of collaboration.
The B Corp movement recognises that systemic change cannot occur without individual change. This means considering the actions and impact of individual employees of a company.
“We showcase the names, faces and stories of all those involved in making our jewellery, and that’s unusual,” explains Audrey Migot-Adholla, owner of the ethical jewellery company, Yala, “we want our customers to understand that every product is made by hand and offer them a connection to the people behind the products, as well as the impact that their purchase will have on the lives of the artisans.”
“We can build a market economy that is designed with people at the centre, not profit at the centre,” Gilbert states, “creat[ing] an inclusive and regenerative economy that creates a shared and durable prosperity.”
The Beautiful Truth is proud to be a Certified B Corporation, joining the community of leaders who are determined to harness the power of business, using what they do to be a force for good.
We can build a market economy that is designed with people at the centre, not profit at the centre