By Anthea Kelsick and Ben Anderson, B Lab U.S. & Canada
As the first month of 2021 comes to a close, if nothing else it was a punctuation mark on the continued need for change — from the ongoing human toll and economic devastation of the pandemic, to political turmoil in the U.S., to the inauguration of a new administration, and the global roll-out of a vaccine. This month is leading us into another series of transitions — on an individual, community and societal level — that will fuel our work together and provide an opportunity to create deeper impact.
For the last 14 years, we have built the foundation of a strong and influential global community of businesses. There are now over 3,700 B Corps in 75 countries and over 100,000 companies using the B Impact Assessment to manage their impact. This global community is supported by a growing network of regional B Lab / Sistema B entities on 6 continents. Together we share a global vision of an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet.
In the U.S. and Canadian market specifically, we will achieve that vision by cultivating, mobilizing and amplifying the collective impact of our community of business leaders modeling stakeholder capitalism in action. Our power to change systems is in the demonstration effect, which means going beyond acting as individual businesses, and working together, to show proof of stakeholder capitalism at scale. In 2020 we saw the idea of stakeholder capitalism take root, we now need to harness the opportunity to shine the light on the path for how companies take action too. And it will require us to work collectively.
Our goal by the end of 2025 is to have collectively scaled both transformational business practices and public policies that systemically advance climate justice, racial equity, and stakeholder governance. We see this happening already with the B Corp Climate Collective and WeTheChange — where companies are coming together to catalyze systems change for all. We also see this emerging via our policy white paper and our proposal for a new White House Initiative.
We will continue this push for collective action focused in 3 impact areas – climate justice, racial equity and stakeholder governance. While we have always stood for an inclusive economy, taking an equity and justice lens is newer for us as a community. We are not yet leaders here, so will be listening to and following the lead of Black, Indigenous and People of Color in our community and the expertise of our partners. We know that achieving both racial equity and climate justice are essential to the change we seek, and now is the time for our community to commit to leadership.
We also know that we have work to do bolstering the foundation of the B Corp experience. We will be investing to ensure that individual B Corps have the information and resources they need for a smooth and inspiring journey. We will also invest in fostering a strong sense of community, nurturing the connections that will eventually allow for the majority of our community to engage in collective action around impact.
Finally, there are some changes within B Lab U.S. & Canada that we wanted to share:
[From Anthea Kelsick] As of January 2021, I have transitioned from my role as Co-CEO to that of a Board Member of B Lab U.S. & Canada. As I shared in our 2020 year-end community forum (in a panel starting at 46:27), the past year made explicit the many challenges in our society and shined the light on the power of my voice and leadership to effect change. It also revealed my personal need for a reset, so after 20 years of leaning into professional life I will be taking a sabbatical to replenish and explore the best pathways for me to continue driving impact. I am grateful to have the opportunity to continue working with the B Corp community, with Ben and the B Lab team as a Board member to help shape the strategic direction of our journey, build a talented and diverse B Lab team, and hold us accountable to becoming an even more impactful, more equitable and more inclusive movement for change.
[From Ben Anderson] First, I’d like to start by thanking Anthea for her substantive contributions to the global network initially as the Global CMO and more recently my partner as Co-CEO of U.S. & Canada. Anthea led the co-creation of the strategy described above which will be a lasting legacy of her leadership. In her board role she’ll be able to hold us accountable and ensure alignment. The board remains committed to the co-leadership model, and we’re embarking on a search for another leader. Also I affirm my personal commitment and our organizational commitment to advancing us as an antiracist organization, strengthening our JEDI skills, recruiting a more diverse team, and fostering a more inclusive culture and B Corp community where we are all empowered to do our best work.
As 2021 unfolds, we look forward to engaging with you to advance our collective vision in the U.S., Canada, and around the world. This moment was made for the B Corp community’s leadership. Let’s get to work.
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