The Practices, Policies, and People Driving Positive Social and Environmental Impact Through Business
As the global economy remains uncertain and fragile in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the reality of the inequitable recovery of different nations and populations is stark, clear, and disturbing. What is the role of business in this global crisis? And what, truly, should the role of business be in this and all global crises, from this pandemic to climate change?
In valuing all stakeholders — including the communities where they operate, the workers they employ, the customers they serve, and the environment they rely on — Certified B Corporations are exploring a relationship between businesses, the globe, and all its inhabitants that profoundly reimagines the role of a company from one that extracts to one that provides. These for-profit companies are reviewed for their social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency, foremost by submitting to a rigorous B Impact Assessment that is evaluated and audited by B Lab, an independent global nonprofit network that certifies and mobilizes B Corps. Today, more than 4,000 B Corps across 77 countries and 153 industries are unified by one common goal: to transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.
Within this business community operating at the vanguard of the impact economy, those companies that rank in the top 5% of all B Corps on the B Impact Assessment in its size group worldwide for their sustainable business practices are recognized as 2021 Best for the WorldTM. This year, 767 B Corps from more than 50 countries were named to the 2021 Best for the World lists (jump to see this year’s lists!), including 4G Capital (Kenya), KeepCup (Australia), Natura (Brazil), The Big Issue Group (UK), TOMS (U.S.), Too Good To Go (Denmark), and Patagonia (U.S.).
This year’s lists recognize companies’ past performance based on their most recent verified B Impact Assessment (review full methodology here) — and how their stakeholder focus provided for workers, prioritized the environment, and served communities around the globe through unprecedented conditions. While global conversations continue on envisioning a new normal, these companies have been hard at work, quite literally, building that new normal. What they have learned, and can share with other businesses, is why their example is deemed Best for the World, as it can guide more businesses and, ideally, the full economy to an equitable, just system.
“Best for the World is a special program for the B Corp community, and we’re thrilled to resume it after pausing the program in 2020 due to COVID-19,” says Juan Pablo Larenas, Executive Director of B Lab Global. “This year’s Best for the World companies are operating at the very top of their class, excelling in creating positive impact for their stakeholders, including their workers, communities, customers, and the environment. We’re proud of the community of stakeholder-driven businesses we’ve cultivated over the last 15 years; together we’re marching toward our collective vision of an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet.”
Best for the World Practices — From Around The World
What does it actually look like in action to be Best for the World? Below is a short selection of examples from several regions where B Lab operates, highlighting the various ways in which B Corps are innovating for lasting, positive change around the globe.
“Sama’s impact sourcing model provides training and job opportunities that pay a living wage to youth and women in East Africa. Through the combination of our leading technology platform and worker-training programs, we increase economic opportunity for those in underserved communities. Employees receive benefits including health insurance and paid new parent leave, and have the opportunity to build transferable skills through professional development courses.”
— Sama, training data B Corp based in Kenya, recognized as Best for Workers
“FAMA Investimentos is a people-based company. People are our best asset, being absolutely fundamental to our activity. Since we hired our first employee — more than 25 years ago — it has been our policy to distribute part of FAMA’s earnings. We are concerned about social mobility and continually encourage education: As an example, a female employee who was an elevator operator in our headquarters building is now one of the company’s main partners. We carry out individual performance reviews every six months and we have hired human resources consultancies to carry out an organizational climate survey every three years. All our employees, since 2005, must undergo an integrity and ethics test carried out by an external consultancy as part of the selection process, ensuring a climate of trust, respect and ethics in the work environment. It is not by chance that our turnover is very low, which is quite unusual for the sector in which we operate. During COVID, in addition to the formal commitment of not firing anyone, we hired people, made equipment for remote work available, and raised discretionary remuneration.”
— FAMA Investimentos, equity fund manager B Corp in Brazil, recognized as Best for Workers
“Rowlinson Knitwear is 100% employee owned, where all colleagues act as owners for the good of all our stakeholders. We pay tax-free profit-share to all, we pay 8% pension, provide interest-free loans, receive extra holidays, and demonstrate real care for each other. We pay the real living wage, and the lower-paid get paid more and the higher-paid are paid less than market rate. All colleagues participate in a vote of confidence in the managing director three times a year. We really care about the workers in our supply chain, mainly in Bangladesh and Egypt. We gift all the workers in our main supplier at Bangladesh industrial water filter machines so they and their families are healthier. We provide a female health education programme and we gift sanitary products to all female workers. In Egypt, we pay for weekly visits from a doctor and we ensure that the minimum pay level for all workers is much higher than local labour laws.”
— Rowlinson Knitwear, uniform and corporate wear B Corp in the United Kingdom, recognized as Best for Workers
“Greenvines established a list of 2,700 ‘Unnecessary Ingredients,’ which is constantly updated and forbidden from all of the product formulas. Whenever possible, we choose COSMOS/Ecocert certified ingredients, even at a higher cost. Our bottles and packaging are 100% recyclable, and we have applied for COSMOS certification for our products. Aside from regularly tracking energy consumption from within the office (electricity, water, waste, and recycling), we commenced a more concrete plan toward Net Zero by 2025, starting from calculating carbon emissions last year. And we co-hosted a consumer-facing campaign, ‘21 Days of Green,’ with Taiwan Environmental Information Association for five consecutive years.”
— Greenvines, sustainable beauty B Corp based in Taiwan, recognized as Best for Environment
“Start Broadband exists to help low-income families access a home internet connection, a crucial tool to help break the poverty cycle. We fully fund the connection of families who would otherwise go without.”
— Start Broadband, communication services B Corp in Australia, recognized as Best for Community
“Our mission at Watalux is to find water, sanitation, and hygiene (wash) solutions for underserved communities in developing countries. We are mostly active in Africa. All of our products are assembled in Switzerland (near our office) by people who are usually excluded by the labor market. Our team is composed of more than half women (3/5), including 2 of colour. All the employees have the same amount of decision-making power as we work toward implementing an holacratic model.”
— Watalux, water treatment B Corp in Switzerland, recognized as Best for Customers
“Our work at OneSeventeen Media over the past 20 years has focused on marginalized youth, specifically those who aren’t ‘heard’ in our school system. reThinkIt! is a digital mental health platform using chatbot assistants, live chat counselors and an evidence-based ‘early detection’ assessment to help kids 10 to 15 years old better process difficult emotions, understand their own behaviors, and navigate those of others.”
— OneSeventeen Media, mental health platform in the United States, recognized as Best for Governance and Best for Customers
See a full listing of the B Corps that are Best for the World 2021!
Want to learn more about how Best for the World honorees are uplifting best practice? Join B Lab U.S. & Canada as we honor the Best for the World 2021 B Corps in our region on August 3 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET. Register now!
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