Collective Action for the Greater Good Can Build a Better World
Operating for the good of multiple stakeholders helps Certified B Corporations amplify their benefit, but it also provides a structure to turn to during changing times and economic challenges. As the coronavirus pandemic creates uncertainty now and for the future, B Corps are encountering the unexpected and adapting to find a new equilibrium amid shared fear and hope for ourselves and our planet.
As those of us who are able to do so stay at home and protect our communities, our changed behaviors are affecting our environment and the creatures who call it home. As carbon emissions fall, skies clear. As regular traffic drops, animals claim new territory. As the overall pace of life eases, seismic activity calms.
The examples of how our behavior affects the world around us are especially pertinent as we mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22. While B Corps hold the environment as a stakeholder throughout the year, this annual event serves as an opportunity to recommit to each other and our planet. Like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the most vulnerable people on the planet, even in the wealthiest nations.
By learning from how B Corps have collaborated on solutions to protect our planet and build a better world, the business world can find examples of how to generate a larger collective impact that benefits all as they adapt amid a pandemic.
During the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, businesses can contribute to systemic economic change through regenerative, equitable practices that benefit all people and create a more resilient future. B The Change compiled five ways that B Corps have met the climate crisis and how these practices can serve as a model during the current crisis and as we adapt to new realities in the future.
B Corps Collaborate — Even with Competitors
Leaders from more than 35 North American B Corps came together in February 2019 to launch the B Corp Climate Collective, bringing together businesses that have demonstrated leadership in environmental action and progress. In some markets, these companies are competitors. But with a larger common goal in mind, these B Corps have been collaborating to identify concrete steps to accelerate climate mitigation work collectively — as individual companies, and through cross-sector collaboration and public advocacy.
B Corps Center Marginalized Communities
While everyone on Earth will feel the effects of global warming, some populations will bear a heavier burden if its progress is not slowed and reversed. As noted in a 2018 U.N. climate report, worsening effects of greenhouse gas emissions and a warming planet pose the greatest threat to “disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, some indigenous peoples, and local communities dependent on agricultural or coastal livelihoods.”
For B Corps, climate justice is incorporated into efforts to create a more equitable and regenerative economy. Whether it’s by providing access to affordable clean energy, investing in carbon offsets generated from renewable energy projects, or offsetting the environmental costs of travel, these business practices uplift communities and enhance the Earth.
B Corps Measure Impact
The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global effort to create a shared, durable prosperity for all people. While these goals stretch beyond environmental impact, they call on businesses to make a deep transformation by rethinking business models and using their collective voice to ignite further action. The SDG Action Manager, developed the U.N. Global Compact and B Lab, is an online impact management tool that helps businesses align their practices with the SDGs. By incorporating some measures in the B Impact Assessment used to certify B Corps, the SDG Action Manager helps businesses set a pathway for progress on the SDGs in the next decade.
B Corps Raise the Bar
At the U.N. Climate Change Conference, COP25, in December 2019, more than 500 B Corps took the stage and publicly committed to accelerate the reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions to reach a 1.5 degree trajectory leading to net zero by the year 2030—20 years ahead of the 2050 targets set in the Paris Agreement. In the weeks that followed, hundreds more have joined their ranks, with additional companies signing up daily.
B Corps Prioritize the Environment As Stakeholder
After surviving an economic downturn in 1990, Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard and about a dozen senior executives traveled to the mountains of Patagonia in South America to determine the company’s mission moving forward. Their decisions — to focus on making top-quality products, doing minimal harm to the environment, and donating a portion of profits to environmental causes — created a model for environmental stewardship and sustainability.
And Patagonia isn’t alone — all B Corps measure and manage their environmental impact, and follow a stakeholder governance model that requires consideration of the environment alongside profits and all other stakeholders.
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