4 Multinational Companies Launch Business Community Focused on Sustainability, Resilience, Transparency, and Governance
Four large multinational companies are taking a new step with the global movement of Certified B Corporations using business as a force for good. These publicly traded companies — Bonduelle, Gerdau, Givaudan, and Magalu — are part of the new B Movement Builders initiative to advance a more sustainable and resilient business model that considers the welfare of all business stakeholders, including shareholders, by operating with credibility and accountability.
While most of the 3,500-plus B Corps are small-to-midsize businesses with fewer than 250 employees, B Movement Builders are larger companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenue. The four B Movement Builders will be mentored by Danone and Natura & Co., two other large multinationals that have certified at least 30% of their global business, and collaborate with other B Corps through the new initiative.
Hallvard Bremnes, Global Head of Sustainability at Givaudan, says being a global business brings with it some challenges that cross the boundaries of people, planet and profit, including the fragility of the global supply chain and the impact on food and consumer product security; the need to protect the health, safety and security of employees; and the impact of the changing climate on availability of natural raw materials.
“The current situation has even more acutely shown the interdependence between performance and purpose and our need to play a role in changing the balance of this dynamic for Givaudan and beyond,” Bremnes says.
Like other companies in the B Corp community, B Movement Builders realize that businesses can play a crucial role in addressing the world’s biggest challenges — including the climate crisis, racial inequality, and wealth disparity — while meeting new expectations from customers and workers who are increasingly looking to buy from and work for businesses that align with their personal values. The decisions that all companies make create ripple effects for stakeholders that continue throughout the global economy. By committing to more transparent and sustainable operations, the B Movement Builders can work with other B Corps to drive change on a larger scale.
Guillaume Debrosse, CEO of Bonduelle, says joining the B Movement Builders “is a logical step forward in the trajectory of our history, identity and mission, carrying an ambition of positive impact that is in essence transformational for the whole company. Undertaking B Corp certification is a rigorous process that takes full organization commitment; this is a multi-year project.”
B Lab, the nonprofit that oversees B Corp certification, is launching the B Movement Builders initiative to create new coalitions that will advance stakeholder capitalism as part of a more inclusive and regenerative economic system.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and consequential economic crisis have proven that our economic system is not as resilient as we need it to be. To get there, we must reimagine and rebuild an inclusive, equitable, regenerative economy that works for all and for the long term,” says B Lab Co-Founder and Global CEO Andrew Kassoy. “To accelerate this change we need large multinationals on board, too. I’m proud of the leadership and boldness of the B Movement Builders — it’s the kind of leadership we need in the private sector if we’re going to make stakeholder capitalism meaningful and lasting.”
Collaborating with the B Corp Community to Advance Stakeholder Capitalism
Gustavo Werneck, CEO of Gerdau, says creating a more sustainable future means companies — large and small — must build their capacity for transformation.
“The world demands a new development model that promotes social, environmental and financial equilibrium so that the perpetuity of businesses advances in step with the perpetuity of the planet,” Werneck says. “By being part of B Movement Builders, Gerdau believes it can contribute to the growth of B Corps around the world, especially in regions where it has operations, engaging organizations to reflect on how we can rethink the way we do business. Joining the movement also will help us monitor the progress of initiatives that are part of our sustainability journey.”
Here’s an overview of each B Movement Builder, which span several industries and indicate a global shift in how large companies are planning for the future economy:
- Bonduelle: This France-based business with more than 10,000 workers has a mission to be the go-to brand for living well through vegetable products. Its long-term vision prioritizes social responsibility and reduced environmental impact.
- Gerdau: With more than 28,000 workers, Brazil-based Gerdau is the leading producer of long steel in the Americas and one of the major suppliers of specialty long steel in the world. The Latin American company is the largest recycler in the world, transforming millions of metric tons of scrap into steel every year.
- Givaudan: As the world’s leading flavor and fragrances company, Givaudan works with partners in the food, beverage, consumer goods and fragrance industries and employs more than 14,000 people. Through the use of natural ingredients, Switzerland-based Givaudan advances a sustainable business model.
- Magalu: Also known as Magazine Luiza, this Brazil-based retailer produces furniture, electronics, apparel, and cosmetics. Magalu has more than 26,000 employees and 1,000 stores.
The B Impact Assessment as Catalyst for Change
B Corps earn certification by taking the B Impact Assessment (BIA), an online tool that measures a company’s impact on stakeholders — workers, environment, community, and customers — and meeting a minimum score of 80. B Movement Builders are using the same assessment to measure and manage their social and environmental impact as part of their journey with the B Corp movement. “Completing the BIA is the ultimate benchmarking exercise and catalyst for change,” says Bremnes of Givaudan. “As the most stringent and wide-ranging assessment of a business’s social and economic performance, it provides invaluable insight and a roadmap for transformation whilst building on the good things already in place.”
For Gerdau, Werneck says the BIA’s holistic perspective can provide valuable information for all businesses looking to improve their social and environmental impact. “Even for companies that are not seeking B Corp Certification, the BIA is an excellent management tool focused on sustainability aspects for accompanying the company’s evolution,” Werneck says. “It also is a great opportunity to train our teams on stakeholders’ expectations regarding sustainability issues.”
Gian Maria Bruno, Global B Corp Director at Danone, says serving as a mentor to the B Movement Builders is another way for Danone to improve its impact now and for the future while also boosting the B Corp community.
“Playing an active role as mentor within the B Movement Builders is a way for us to put at the service of the community all our learning, experience and experiments to support and accelerate the transformation the society needs,” Bruno says. “This transition cannot be achieved alone, and so in the spirit of interdependence we are thrilled to be able to support those businesses who share the same vision using business as a force for good.”
Marcelo Behar, Vice President of Sustainability and Group Affairs at Natura &Co, says the company started its B Corp journey in 2014 with certification of Natura followed by The Body Shop in 2019, and continues to move toward certification of Aesop and Avon.
“As a group all our companies have had purpose at heart, but we are acutely aware that in order to ferment systemic change we need to bring others along with us to share experiences, best practices, and knowledge,” Behar says. “The more corporations join the conversation, the bigger and faster impact we will have to truly transform business models so that we create positive impact for society and the environment. It is very important for us to enhance this B Movement Builders agenda and be part of this call to action for other companies in the world.”
B Movement Builders also must sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence, provide support to the B Corp community, and show progress on three initiatives tied to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Collective actions are another strong emphasis, as B Movement Builders and B Corps will collaborate to share best practices and policies that enhance social and environmental impact while also transforming the global economy.
One way B Corps commit to stakeholder capitalism is by adopting benefit corporation governance. Magalu has adopted this legal structure that requires companies to consider all stakeholders in their business decisions, and the other B Movement Builders will take steps in that direction and engage with key shareholders and policymakers about this systemic change. As the first B Movement Builders, the four multinational companies will help B Lab shape and scale the initiative for future expansion.
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.