Building a Stakeholder Economy Through Policy Action and Advocacy
December 8, 2022
B Corps Collaborate for Policy Advocacy and a More Inclusive Economy
As we near the end of the year, B Lab U.S. & Canada celebrates Certified B Corporations that are using business as a force for good every day, in their communities, to create an economy that works for all people. In appreciation for their leadership and collaboration, this month we’re highlighting how companies in the B Corp community are advancing the three pillars in B Lab U.S. & Canada’s theory of change: a stakeholder economy, racial equity, and climate justice.
This article focuses on how B Corps are pursuing a stakeholder economy where business leaders make decisions while considering their impact on workers, customers, community, and the environment. They also are building trust among consumers and workers who increasingly expect companies to address societal issues and advocate for policy change to dismantle unjust systems, policies, and practices. B Lab U.S. & Canada CEO Jorge Fontanez reiterated the importance of policy advocacy to advance a stakeholder economy during an online conversation at Shift 2022. “We are building on that legacy of advocacy and changing legislation and really thinking about what is the next wave of policy change,” he said.
Through each of the three pillars of change, B Corps are collaborating with a shared belief in values-driven business and championing policy reforms that help raise the bar for all companies. Below, find highlights from B The Change articles this year featuring examples of leaders at B Corps and other sustainable businesses who are advocating for policies and practices that advance a stakeholder economy.
Take Effective Action at Your Company
This new free downloadable resource shares how B Lab U.S. & Canada and the B Corp community are building a stakeholder economy and driving collective political action to make the rules of the game more equitable and beneficial for all.
Systems Change Through Business-Led Policy Advocacy
To encourage more business leaders to find and use their voice for positive systems change, B Lab U.S & Canada hosted a policy discussion on Business for Good: Speaking Up For Systems Change during the Shift 2022 Virtual Impact Summit. With a history of supporting public benefit corporation legislation, B Lab has helped change how business leaders and board managers account for stakeholders rather than just shareholders, said B Lab U.S. & Canada CEO Jorge Fontanez. Other panelists shared how business holds an important role in policy advocacy:
- Lauren Paul, Director of Partnerships and Policy at Common Future, an Oakland, California-based organization: “There is a lot of perceived and very intentional language used by those in power that makes folks feel like they can’t participate because they don’t understand what we’re talking about. … At Common Future, we look for grounded, pragmatic leaders who are dedicated to just moving stuff. Oftentimes the folks who are best at getting stuff done are the folks who don’t have a choice about getting stuff done.”
- Kate Ogden, Advocacy and Movement Building Manager at Seventh Generation, a Vermont-based B Corp: “A huge part of the way that Seventh Generation engages in policy change and policy advocacy is by following the leadership of our partner organizations in the climate justice movement. … Sometimes the value is that you are a business. That’s part of what our partners are asking of us: to bring our business voice and influence to the table. And sometimes what we’re bringing is just a platform or access to an audience.”
- Raj Aggarwal, President and Lead Strategist at Provoc, a B Corp based in California and Washington, D.C.: “I hear from policymakers on a regular basis, what do our local businesses think about this work? We need to stay in the conversation. However, it’s pretty challenging for small businesses to be able to do this. … The most powerful thing that you can do as a business is use your business voice to advocate for these policies.”
The Systemic Change Our Economy Needs
A new impact economy is being built, one where businesses prioritize and consider their impact on all the stakeholders they impact — including communities, workers, customers, and the environment. Download this free report to learn how the stakeholder model as practiced by B Corps is gaining global traction and validation.
B Corps Collaborate to Build Voting Rights Knowledge
As businesses that create value for multiple stakeholders, B Corps advocate for policy that supports an inclusive stakeholder economy, including legislation protecting voter rights to ensure a strong democracy. Other businesses can use these examples of collaboration and partnership to inspire their own action, increase voter knowledge and participation, and build more inclusive communities.
- The Body Shop amplified youth voices in public life with its Be Seen, Be Heard campaign that aims to dismantle barriers for first-time voters. The B Corp’s North America stores served as voter registration hubs, and The Body Shop celebrated National Voter Registration Day with an event in partnership with fellow B Corp Tony’s Chocolonely. The Body Shop stores across North America displayed information about voting rights and voter registration.
- With “outspoken” as one of its four core values, Tony’s Chocolonely believes in speaking up for positive change. The B Corp sees election years like 2022 as a chance for U.S. citizens to be outspoken as they help shape the country’s future. To help ensure people had access and information to make their voices heard at the polls, Tony’s partnered with HeadCount to spread the word about important dates and deadlines for the midterm election.
The Board Playbook
To help business leaders navigate the journey to adopt benefit corporation status as a requirement of B Corp Certification, B Lab U.S. & Canada provides this downloadable resource, the Board Playbook, to lay out the process and demystify the risks.
B Locals Collaborate for Policy Action to Advance a Stakeholder Economy
In the United States and Canada, B Local Communities — place-based B Corp organizations — serve as a resource for business leaders seeking more resilient and equitable economies and communities. B Locals, run independently from B Lab, are commonly led by volunteer boards of B Local leaders who work closely with the B Lab team. In recent years, B Locals have incorporated policy advocacy as a collective action through learning opportunities, political outreach, and other collaborations.
- After learning that members were interested in meaningful collective action work, B Local Boston has organized climate advocacy events, including a June 2022 BLD NE workshop with a focus on policy. Justin Wright of B Corp Habitus Inc. is one of the B Local Boston organizers who coordinate the events. “The business community’s voice is the loudest in the halls of power,” he says. “If we are not advocating for our values, other businesses are advocating for profit over people and planet.”
- As members of the regional Good For Michigan organization, B Corps in Michigan collaborate with other companies that have committed to measuring their social and environmental impact. To reinforce this work, in 2020 Good For Michigan launched The Impact Project to get business leaders civically engaged and align their business impact efforts with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Building a Regenerative Economy Through the B Corp CommunityRead More
Take Effective Policy Action at Your Company: Examples and Resources to Demand an Economy for AllRead More
Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
Leaders in Conversation: Why Business Has a Role in Protecting Voting RightsRead More
Stakeholder Economy and Governance Around the WorldRead More
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