Business Examples and Resources for Justice, Sustainability, and Economic Inclusion
Moving the needle on racial equity, climate justice, and an economy that works for all is a formidable challenge that requires collaboration. In 2023, Certified B Corporations across the United States and Canada deepened their work to create a more just and resilient future for people and the planet.
Guided by the three pillars in B Lab U.S. & Canada’s Theory of Change, many B Corps are finding new ways to use business as a force for good and create value for stakeholders as well as shareholders. They also are updating policies and reshaping their practices to help dismantle extractive systems. By reviewing progress made in 2023 and adjusting as they move forward, B Corps can continue to improve their impact for years to come.
As we wrap up 2023, B The Change highlights some programs, initiatives, and business examples from B Corps in the United States and Canada leading as changemakers.
Racial Equity: Learning Journeys, Impact Improvement, and Level 3.0
Many B Corps are working to build on their founding missions and develop products and practices with a racial equity lens. This includes business innovations to increase employment opportunities, expand access to financial resources, and develop innovative policies and practices to help address systemic racism.
As the B Lab U.S. & Canada racial equity team has grown, so has its work. New initiatives in 2023 included the Racial Equity & Climate Justice 101 Learning Journeys and the Impact Improvement Program on Racial Equity. The Level program enrolled its third cohort of entrepreneurs of color who identify as women and are starting their B Corp Certification journey.
2023 Racial Equity Highlights
Racial Equity & Climate Justice 101 Learning Journeys: Built on the idea that not all companies are large enough to have a full-time expert on inclusion in business on staff, the Learning Journey series from B Lab U.S. & Canada provided tools, education, and support for more than 100 B Corp employees in 2023. To help build an economy that works for all people, the first Learning Journey included hands-on training on how to center justice in business practices. As facilitator Anu Gupta of Be More with Anu said: “As human beings, we really have to center around skill-building, which means unlearning unskillful habits and learning new habits in order to create behavior change. The beautiful thing is that doing this is not complicated at all. It’s quite simple, actually. But it requires psychological safety, trust, and empathy.”
Racial Equity Impact Improvement Program: The new Racial Equity Impact Improvement Program provides a roadmap for B Corps on their impact journey. The goal is to move B Corps from education to awareness to action. Marielle Martin, Racial Equity Program Manager at B Lab U.S. & Canada, helped create that journey for the initial cohort of leaders from 12 B Corps. The cohort learned to apply a racial lens to policies and procedures that reinforce systemic oppression. They participated in eight weeks of learning sessions, peer collaboration, and coaching on open hiring practices, leadership inclusivity, board diversity, living wage analysis, and wealth-building benefits. Nearly 95% of participating companies said they would refer the program to others. Martin said: “At the start, their education around racial equity was at various levels, but we all ended at the same place. They serve as examples: If you’re committed and you invest your time, the work can continue to move forward.”
Level 3.0: The women business leaders in the Level program’s third cohort are building companies that do more than make a profit. These entrepreneurs and executives who identify as women and Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color also provide products and services that help shape more resilient and inclusive communities. The 14 women in this year’s program are working to measure and manage their company’s social and environmental impact, earn B Corp Certification, and embed their mission into their legal charters. The Level leaders operate in various industries — from food to construction, from finances to fitness — and share a passion for working with and for their communities.
Business Resources to Help Address the Racial Wealth Gap
B Lab U.S. & Canada and the B Corp community seek to change a system that does not meet the needs of most. This guide shares resources and practices that can help drive economic systems change for the benefit of all.
Climate Justice: Case Studies, Collaborative Initiatives, and Actionable Resources
What does climate justice look like? A new set of case studies highlights B Corp practices and policies, from crafting products with resilient supply chains to partnering for sustainability-focused marketing.
Other resources, programs, and opportunities for climate justice collaboration include advocacy work involving hundreds of B Corps, with more than 40 Congressional office meetings and support for B Corp leaders testifying in front of legislatures. A new Climate Justice Foundations pilot program included 20 B Corp leaders and facilitators.
2023 Climate Justice Highlights
Climate Justice Case Studies: B Lab U.S. & Canada shared a new set of case studies with examples from five B Corps to help more B Corps and other businesses advance climate justice within their work. The case studies highlight practices and policies from Tradewater, a 50-employee company with headquarters in Chicago and Costa Rica; Bonterra Organic Estates, a 240-employee winery in Hopland, California; Persephone Brewing Company, a 40-employee brewery in Gibsons, British Columbia; Evolution Marketing, an owner-operated marketing firm in Nashotah, Wisconsin; and Cooperative Coffees, an 11-employee coffee-roaster cooperative based in Americus, Georgia, and Montreal, Quebec.
Climate Week and Climate Lab: The Climate Justice Innovation Lab in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Climate Week in New York City provided powerful lessons on environmental impact improvement and collaboration. Kylie Nealis, Senior Program Manager for Climate Justice at B Lab U.S. & Canada, said the events demonstrate how B Corps are connecting to advance climate justice with people most affected by climate change. In a B Lab Voices article, Nealis said: “Ultimately, co-creating climate justice can and must take on many different forms if we’re going to shape a more just and sustainable future. Bringing together diverse groups of people with different perspectives to co-create strategies and approaches to advancing climate justice takes time, resources, and organization.”
A Climate Justice Playbook for Business: Addressing climate justice is no small feat. It requires businesses to reconsider longstanding practices and tackle systemic barriers in partnership with the most affected communities — learning and unlearning along the way. The 2023 Earth Month Toolkit from B Lab U.S. & Canada offers action-oriented resources to help organizations collaborate on climate solutions that are inclusive, equitable, and regenerative.
Stakeholder Economy: ESG Examples, Advocacy for Inclusive Policies, and Worker Support
By operating with legal standards that commit to serving all their stakeholders, B Corps demonstrate how businesses can work to create both profit and benefits for people and the planet. While B Corp Certification helps attract and retain talent, the value of a stakeholder approach can extend further to benefit workers, their families, and the communities they call home.
To advance a stakeholder-driven economy, B Corps are adopting practices to benefit more people and advocating for business accountability and long-term resilience. B Corps have a unique perspective to share as businesses that undergo an assessment of their impact on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors — and as forward-thinking leaders shaping an economy that works for all people.
2023 Stakeholder Economy Highlights
ESG and B Corps: Speaking Up for Business as a Force for Good: B Corps have a unique perspective to share as businesses that undergo an assessment of their impact on ESG factors — and as forward-thinking leaders shaping a stakeholder-driven economy. “We recognize that anti-ESG sentiment has a ripple effect,” said webinar moderator Grace Mausser, Policy Manager at B Lab U.S. & Canada. “That’s why we’re here and why it’s important to understand the important role that B Corps can play in this debate.” The webinar featured speakers Frances Sawyer, Founder of Pleiades Strategy; Anne Kelly, Vice President of Government Relations at Ceres; Tynesia Boyea-Robinson, President and CEO of CapEQ; and Holly Ensign-Barstow, Policy and Programs Senior Director, B Lab U.S. & Canada.
How ESG Factors Align with B Corp Values: While the ESG policy debate looks likely to continue, companies across the United States are demonstrating how the risk-reducing values behind ESG consideration also help create long-term, bottom-line benefits. B Corps in industries ranging from seafood to finance to travel and leisure share how focusing on ESG impact improvement allows them to make more resilient businesses and connections with their workers, customers, and communities. As Ben Conniff of B Corp Luke’s Lobster said: “The fact is that considering environmental, social, and governance factors in your business is synonymous with smart long-term financial strategy. Folks who ignore these considerations do so at their own peril and the peril of their investors.”
How B Corps Are Supporting Workers Through Policy and Advocacy: While recent years revealed and exacerbated income and equity gaps in societies around the world, B Corps have had an opportunity to connect with people seeking jobs that align with their values and support them as they work for a more inclusive economy. With transformative retirement investment options, activism policies, and other stakeholder-minded programs, B Corps are finding ways to create purpose-driven workplaces where people feel valued and can contribute to social change.
Examples and Resources to Demand an Economy for All
This free 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.
Resources to Help Businesses Address the Racial Wealth GapRead More
ESG and B Corps: Speaking Up for Business as a Force for GoodRead More
Case Studies Share How Businesses Can Root Climate Action in JusticeRead More
How B Corps Are Supporting Workers Through Policy and AdvocacyRead More
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