Guest post written by Mike Gifford, OpenConcept Consulting.
If you live in Ottawa and care about the environment you’ve probably purchased something from companies like Beau’s All Natural, Bullfrog Power, African Bronze Honey. Whether it is beer, green power or honey, it isn’t just that they are good companies. You may have also heard about MediaStyle, the Business Development Bank of Canada or even my own company OpenConcept Consulting which you’d probably only hear about if you were looking to hire services from an organization. All of these companies are Certified Benefit Companies, or B Corp.
B Corps are companies that have articles of incorporation that value all stakeholders, not just the owners. Unlike most corporations, B Corps have a mandate to serve the triple bottom line of serving people, the planet and profit.
This on its own wouldn’t be a huge shift for some organizations. Running a company is a lot of work, but most business owners care about their employees, their community and the environment that we all live in. What is different though is that B Corps are committed to measuring what matters. Every 2 years, these businesses need to complete an assessment that addresses their environmental footprint, the corporate governance structure, social justice issues and more. This impact assessment is fairly general in that it needs to be able to support a range of businesses from small family businesses to large, globally recognized brands.
In taking this survey I have been impressed to find ways to make my company better. The culture of business is focused almost exclusively on profits. It is uncommon to see a business explicitly state that they are carbon neutral or have equal opportunity hiring policy. When looking around it is easy to assume if you just switch to LED lightbulbs you’re already doing more than most. This might well be true, but if we are going to address global warming we need to do a lot better.
Fortunately, by joining the B Corp movement, a business can associate themselves with some of the most forward thinking companies in the world. Rather than simply aiming to be slightly higher than the lowest common denominator, companies can compete with each other to really be the best that they can be.
Any organization can take the Impact Assessment created and managed by the NGO B Lab, but only for-profit businesses with a high score can become a B Corp. B Corp believe that business needs to be a force for good. Still, any organization seeking to be more environmentally friendly could benefit from taking the Impact Assessment. This assessment provides a framework to help organizations look at their environmental impact in a way that they can measure year after year.
One of the many great ideas within the B Corp movement is having a green supply chain. B Corp are encouraged to buy local where possible and also from other B Corp. By purchasing from one B Corp, you can affect a larger supply chain.
As consumers we have learned the importance of the Fair Trademark and Certified Organic brands. Many consumers are willing to give preference to products which feature these brands. The B Corp logo is much like this, except for the whole business.
Please take some time to learn more about B Corps through some of these videos. As consumers we can all do more to see that our purchases can go to support the world that we need.
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