How Businesses Can Take Action to Build Back Better, Together
While the lessons of 2020 may not have been welcome, they reinforced the underlying need for lasting change that has been at the foundation of the Certified B Corporation community since its founding more than a decade ago. Our business community must still address the fault lines further exposed in the last year. B Corps can drive this reform and enhance their impact by focusing on three main pillars:
• racial justice, by centering people regularly underrepresented and discriminated against;
• climate action, by becoming part of the climate solution; and
• stakeholder governance, by making a change to the operating DNA of corporations and the economy.
To help businesses make progress toward any — or all — of these three goals, the following guidebooks highlight practices, policies, and other methods of driving systems change.
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other People of Color at the hands of police along with the inequitable impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities sparked protests for racial justice and demands for lasting change across the United States and worldwide. Amid public outrage, promises of future action swept the business community. It’s vital to move beyond words, and the B Corp community is working to do just that. This isn’t work that ended in 2020 — it’s time to get to work, for the long haul.
B Lab U.S. & Canada and the community of B Corps have leaned further into their justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work to make progress on building an anti-racist organization and community of businesses.
Anti-Racism Business Resource: Commit and Act
With recommendations and resources from the B Corp community, this guide includes commitments, actions, and ideas for business leaders ready to shift toward anti-racist business practices.
These specific Anti-Racism Resources, which were compiled in the immediate aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, can also support your business in becoming an anti-racist organization.
Businesses cannot wait for government leaders to make climate mitigation a priority. In the absence of political action, more public companies are stepping up and leading through their sustainability work and collaborating to enhance its impact. In 2018, with the words “We’re still in,” a group of more than 2,000 U.S. businesses and investors with a combined annual revenue of $1.4 trillion sent a powerful message: While President Donald Trump may have withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, these business leaders did not. Many B Corps — including Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Big Path Capital, and Taos Ski Valley — put their names on the list.
The list is a commitment, but taking action and changing the way business is done is a much harder achievement. The B Corp community has an opportunity to lead by example and spur action around the globe through innovative programs that mitigate climate threats and help their workers and communities adapt to the changes predicted in the 2018 U.N. climate report.
In addition, this September 2020 letter from the co-CEOs of B Lab U.S. & Canada explains that companies and investors must be obligated to work together to refocus corporations on value creation to promote good jobs, healthy communities, the environment, and a more just and inclusive economic system. Policy and regulatory changes can help ensure that all companies and investors are responsible for the impact of their decisions on all stakeholders and the economic system as whole.
The letter and a related 50-page policy report released by B Lab U.S. & Canada and developed in partnership with The Shareholder Commons detail actions by Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission that are necessary to transition the U.S. economy to stakeholder capitalism. These policy proposals revolve around a core reform: mandating that companies and investors adopt “benefit governance,” one form of what is often called “stakeholder governance,” at individual companies. Benefit governance requires both investors and companies to look beyond financial returns and take responsibility for their impact on social and ecological systems on which a more equitable economy depends.
Coming soon: Stay tuned for the release of a B Lab U.S. & Canada board playbook for stakeholder governance.
Stakeholder Capitalism: The Systemic Change Our Economy Needs
This report shares why these leaders believe in the stakeholder model and how the B Corp community demonstrates the impact economy in action.
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