5 Purpose-Driven Companies Commit to Benefit People and Planet While Also Pursuing Profit
The 2021 recipients of Best for the World™ for Governance demonstrate the long-term value of stakeholder-minded business practices. By adopting legal structures that cement their commitment to benefit more than shareholders, these Certified B Corporations ensure their companies will maintain a focus beyond the bottom line and pursue social and environmental benefit.
Best for the World B Corps are companies that score in the top 5% in their corresponding size group in one of the five impact areas evaluated on the B Impact Assessment: community, customers, environment, governance, and workers.
Here’s how five B Corps in the U.S. and Canada are making positive impacts on their customers — and how other businesses can follow their leads.
New York | Beauty and wellness
With a mission to put an end to packaging waste and inspire other companies to do the same, Ace of Air designed a “Buy the Product, Borrow the Package” circular model. By taking responsibility for the lifecycle of its packaging, the company hopes to lead by example for others and eliminate packaging pollution.
Realizing that the personal care industry has often chosen profits over the planet, creating one of the leading sources of plastic ocean waste and landfill garbage, Ace of Air aims to innovate with packaging and practices that create a new world of wellness and strengthen local communities. One example: Ace of Air sources moringa oil from Haiti, where farmers grow and harvest moringa seeds sustainably and, in turn, support their businesses and communities.
Led by three founders and guided by a team of expert advisers, Ace of Air serves as an example to other brands for how to review and address packaging materials and their total lifecycle.
Quebec | Financial industry
Strong governance has allowed BDC to be flexible and evolve based on entrepreneur priorities and needs — all the while remaining laser-focused on serving and supporting entrepreneurs. Through its work with B Corp entrepreneurs, BDC builds local communities as well as a sustainable environment and encourages other business leaders to join the B Corp movement.
BDC strives to be a catalyst for change by creating ecosystems and partnerships to increase impact. Years ago BDC invested in venture capital because Canada’s VC ecosystem was weak; after 10 years of continuous leadership investment, this national ecosystem is strong. Recent examples are its Cleantech fund, client diversity, response to COVID-19, and newly announced Aboriginal Growth Fund.
For other businesses interested in creating positive impact, BDC recommends a three-pronged approach: 1) a simple, clear, explicit impact purpose; 2) maximum flexibility for strategies and tactics, and 3) patience.
California | Education/student support
When founding BeyondAdmissions™ in 2018, Founder Dr. Joanne Valli-Meredith knew she wanted to create an organization built on principles of social entrepreneurism and inclusion. The corporate structure and operational practices were based specifically on the requirements of the B Impact Assessment, which Valli-Meredith and the board of directors used to build an organization from the ground up that met the values they desired while also ensuring B Corp Certification.
The BeyondAdmissions mission reflects its commitment to positive social impact: to create a system of ongoing college and career support that is easily accessible, and to use a portion of revenues to provide free in-kind services to those less fortunate. Its target population for pro bono and sliding-scale services includes first-generation college students, students of color, low-income students, recently emancipated foster youth, veterans, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities, and non-traditional students.
With a board of directors made up of women and/or individuals from underrepresented social groups, BeyondAdmissions is guided by people who recognize that fostering college and career success entails a broad range of factors. Their combined knowledge in academia, mentoring, development, and business provides the expertise necessary to create an ongoing, accessible, and affordable solution for college support.
Meet the 2021 Best for the World B Corps
The B Corps named as 2021 Best for the World have B Impact Assessment scores that rank among the top 5% in their business size group for the five impact areas: community, customers, environment, governance, and workers. See who made the lists, which are viewable by impact area and then broken down by company size and home country.
Colorado | Financial industry
Good governance is essential, particularly in the financial industry. Change Finance is proud of its commitment and transparency around impact. This is reflected in the company’s mission statement and choice to incorporate as a public benefit corporation to ensure not only an internal commitment but also the fiduciary duty to deliver on its impact goals, while tracking and publicly reporting on impact using validated, third-party metrics.
These practices are an integral part of the company’s culture as well as baked into the DNA of its products, which helps set Change Finance apart from its competitors. By including social and environmental criteria and values in job descriptions, the company reinforces its commitment to positive global impact as a primary measure of business success.
Change Finance believes that good governance is a key ingredient that sets it apart from others — the practices can enhance any company’s products or services, and become a crucial component for success.
Oregon | Financial industry
Sustainability is at the core of Equilibrium, which manages asset investment strategies and products in advanced agriculture, renewable resources, and sustainable real estate. Among its six sustainability principles is humility, which it sees as a crucial component of good governance.
Humility shapes the work of Equilibrium through a majority independent board that takes a view beyond the company’s own concerns, while quarterly accountability helps the B Corp maintain a big-picture view. Decision structures that mean no employee decides their own compensation keep people objective. Independent advisory committees advise on matters involving potential for bias, and rule on decisions known in the industry to be difficult to suspend from bias.
In their first week at Equilibrium, new employees learn about the company’s values as well as B Corp and sustainability principles. These are reinforced through action, annual teaching, evaluations, and reviews. Through stock incentive programs, every employee has an opportunity to become an owner and stand accountable to their colleagues — teaching, and reinforcing that the core lasting value is trust.
Other businesses looking to strengthen their governance can follow Equilibrium’s lead by embracing the learning process and realizing no one knows all or succeeds alone.
Sign Up for our B The Change Newsletter
Read stories on the B Corp Movement and people using business as a force for good. The B The Change Newsletter is sent weekly on Fridays.