B Corps Collaborate to Address Climate Change and Advance Social Justice
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 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.
At the core of climate justice is the recognition that those who are least responsible for climate change are more likely to suffer its most devastating effects, now and in the future. These populations are disproportionately People of Color and systematically oppressed communities throughout the world. With collaboration, inclusion and equity, and positive social and environmental impact as core values, B Corps are positioned to advance climate justice by placing the needs and voices of those who are most impacted by climate change at the forefront.
This article highlights examples from this year of B Corps embedding climate action in their business model and ways of doing work as well as partnering for climate justice in their communities. It also features businesses that are leading by example and sharing their climate justice journeys during panel discussions at industry events.
The Climate Justice Playbook for Business
This practical guide from B Lab features information to help business leaders understand the intersection of climate action and social justice and advance a justice-centered approach to climate action.
Community Partnerships for Climate Justice and Action
Many B Corps are small- to mid-sized companies that can have limited resources and time, so partnering with community organizations can be an effective way to maximize the impact of their climate work. Examples of community collaboration included a panel discussion this year at the 1% for the Planet Global Summit and a Portland B Corp’s support of two organizations.
Eric Cárdenas, Chief Operating Officer at B Corp LOACOM, moderated the discussion at the 1% for the Planet Global Summit that featured B Corps Verdical Group and Avocado Green Mattress, as well as OXO. He said taking small steps to start can include looking to your community for potential partners. “There’s no reason to try to do it all at one time,” he said. “Identify the companies, nonprofits, or other organizations that are doing the work that you feel really good about, and that is truly aligned to your authentic commitments.”
Identifying and partnering with local organizations that align with your company’s DNA also makes the collaboration more impactful and meaningful for employees, he says. That’s one reason this year LOACOM started providing pro bono consulting to a local racial justice organization, Healing Justice Santa Barbara. This work lines up with LOACOM’s goal of becoming an anti-racist company. “It’s valuable to them, yes, but also to us,” Cárdenas said. “Giving in this way helps us grow and learn as a team — there is a kind of reciprocity in the relationship.”
For some businesses, reinforcing environmental commitments can include becoming a B Corp, a member of 1% for the Planet, or Climate Neutral Certified. “The certification piece was one thing that was really important to all of these brands, including LOACOM. These are trustmarks that are becoming more and more recognized,” Cárdenas says. “Now, we’re all doing our best to make sure customers and clients are aware of what they mean and how they really speak to our fundamental commitments.”
The SDG Action Manager
To support businesses pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), B Lab and the United Nations Global Compact along with content advisors developed the SDG Action Manager. This impact management solution enables businesses worldwide to set goals, track progress, and stay motivated on their actions toward the SDGs.
At Portland, Oregon-based B Corp Grapevine Outdoor, owners and founders Abe Tannenbaum and Russell Davis-Cohen are using their business services for two local projects that support Black and Indigenous people. This year that means partnering with the Columbia Riverkeeper organization for its campaign advocating for removal of dams on the Lower Snake River because of concerns about salmon and orca survival. “Indigenous tribes in the Pacific Northwest are calling for this,” Tannenbaum said. “If that’s their position, then I’m all for it and want to help. They have been fishing and stewarding these rivers for many generations, and that should continue for many generations to come.”
Another Grapevine Outdoor project with social and environmental impact is in support of Taking Ownership PDX, an organization founded to help Black homeowners in Portland with maintenance and remodeling projects, in an effort to fight gentrification, help them age in place and avoid legal complaints, fines, and predatory investors and realtors. In addition to collaborating on Grapevine Outdoor billboards with Taking Ownership PDX to raise awareness of its services, the Grapevine team has connected the organization’s founder, Randal Wyatt, with other local businesses for campaigns and advocacy. They are also trying to help Wyatt and other People of Color in the community create generational wealth by sharing commercial real estate and business opportunities with them.
“There are different ways to use billboard space and connect dots with the community and business network we have that can lead to bigger and more valuable opportunities,” Tannenbaum said. “We want to do what we can to help the situation by sharing our ad space and sharing opportunities that arise.”
How Businesses Are Addressing Climate Change
Is your business looking for ideas on making a positive environmental impact? Check this free online report from B Lab that compiles articles and resources to help your business become a climate leader. Whether you work at a large company or an agency, get inspired to do more today.
Business Climate Justice Starts by Centering People in Sustainability Initiatives
The 2022 Natural Products Expo West included a session featuring B Corp leaders discussing how to incorporate justice and equity into regenerative agriculture practices. Karen Lickteig, Community Coordinator at B Lab U.S. & Canada, said B Corps are among the companies diving into business climate action and climate justice as part of their commitment to interdependence and stakeholder benefits — realizing the connections with and impacts on others.
As they use business as a force for good, B Corps are adopting a more holistic view of sustainability, she said. “It’s really about centering people. For a long time, we’ve divorced people and the environment,” Lickteig said. “It’s moving from that lens to actually realizing we need to center people and equity and justice.”
B Corp Gaia Herbs takes a community-led approach to its climate justice work by starting conversations with farmers and other people in its supply network, said Alison Czeczuga, Director of Social Impact and Sustainability. “Our approach has been to be collaborative with them. Starting the conversations: What are you experiencing? What do you need?”
At the Gaia Herbs corporate farm in North Carolina, Czeczuga said that includes development of a migrant worker program with four components — housing, fair wages and benefits, leadership and advocacy, health and wellness — that the workers help shape. “Hearing from them has been a huge part of the learning journey,” she said. Another component of Gaia’s supply network program in Nicaragua is the creation of a Global Farmer Investment Fund, which has been used for agro-forestry training to help farmers diversify their crops and learn how to grow turmeric and vanilla, which are climate-friendly and more resilient.
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