Dana Kawaoka-Chen: Justice Funders' Framework for Philanthropic Transformation [Ep. 159]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


As the Executive Director for Justice Funders, Dana Kawaoka-Chen partners and guides philanthropy in reimagining practices that advance a thriving and just world.  She is a co-author of “The Choir Book: A Framework for Social Justice Philanthropy,” and frequently serves as a trainer and facilitator for values-aligned practice in philanthropy.  Dana’s leadership has been recognized by her peers–in 2014, she was awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award by Oakes College of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and in 2015, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy recognized Dana as one of twenty-five national “Leaders in Action.”

Dana has previously served in executive functions for two other non-profit organizations.  She has a Masters of Science degree in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco, Bachelor of Arts degrees in American Studies and Visual Art from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Non-Profit Management Certification from San Jose State University.

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Interview Highlights:

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Sample Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Surveys from TMI Consulting

Dr. Tiffany Jana and their team at TMI Consulting provided some incredibly useful diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) surveys for the second edition of The B Corp Handbook. A teaser of some of the content from the surveys are reproduced below.

Dr. Jana believes that DEI work should not be led by intuition or depend solely on a few experiential stories that instigated larger corporate action. Metrics enable leadership to gauge whether DEI concerns are isolated or widespread. The resulting data informs whether a DEI strategy needs to be narrowly focused or more comprehensive.

The sample DEI surveys are designed to provide your organization with enough information to begin (or restart) inclusion-focused work.

Finally, Dr. Jana cautions folks to be careful with your data collection, interpretation, and dissemination of results. TMI Consulting offers services to guide the process and interpret the results, and also offers more comprehensive assessments as well.

For professional assistance, please contact tmi@tmiconsultinginc.com and mention the B Corp Handbook DEI survey. Purchase The B Corp Handbook (or hire TMI Consulting) to get full access to all of the questions in the surveys.


Leadership Structural Inclusion Survey

The Leadership Structural Inclusion survey will allow your leadership team the opportunity to examine some of the systems-level structures that either support inclusion or reinforce exclusion. These questions are only to be asked of executive leadership.

  • Is the average compensation for men and women equal in comparable non-managerial and managerial roles?

  • Do you have a standardized process to file employee complaints?

  • Are employees taught how to file complaints?

  • Does your organization have diversity and/or inclusion listed as a core value or as part of your mission statement?

  • Purchase The B Corp Handbook (or hire TMI Consulting) to get full access to all of the questions in this survey.


Employee Organizational Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey

The employee organizational DEI survey can be administered to all employees and should be rated on a five-point Likert scale. Employees should respond with the extent to which they agree or disagree with each statement. For example, have employees respond with (1) strongly disagree, (2) disagree, (3) neither agree nor disagree, (4) agree, and (5) strongly agree.

  • At work, I feel comfortable voicing my opinion in a group.

  • The organization provides timely and accurate communication to all employees about policies, procedures, and expectations.

  • The organization provides developmental opportunities for employees at all levels.

  • The organization has a clear process for employee evaluation and feedback.

  • Employees know and understand why the organization values diversity and inclusion.

  • Purchase The B Corp Handbook (or hire TMI Consulting) to get full access to all of the questions in this survey.

This article is an excerpt from the new Second Edition of The B Corp Handbook. If you would like to learn more, get your copy of the book today and/or sign up for the online launch event on May 30, 2019. To help us spread the word, please check out our promotional guide for The B Corp Handbook. Sign up for the LIFT Economy newsletter to stay up to date about the book and the B Corp movement. You can follow Ryan and Dr. Jana on Twitter: @honeymanconsult and @twiffanyjana.

Democrats vs Green Party?

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Authored by Ryan Honeyman

I recently switched political party affiliations from Democrats to the Green Party.

I think many people actually support the policy positions of the Green Party, they just don't vote for them because they think it is a wasted vote. I get it--I was one of those people who was skeptical. Until the dumpster fire that is Donald J Trump.

I am not convinced that it is working to constantly choose the lesser of two evils (e.g., voting for Dems), rather than support folks who actually want to build the Next Economy.

(I'll admit that I am much more excited about Democrats now that more women of color like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley are involved.)

Even with recent progress from the Dems, I see some pretty massive policy differences. For example, the Green Party believes:

"Our defense budget has increased out of all proportion to any military threat to the US, and to our domestic needs.

The government must reduce our defense budget to half of its current size."

No Democrat would say that.

Here is another one from the Green Party Platform:

"The community of people of African ancestry whose families were held in chattel slavery in what is now the USA have legitimate claims to reparations including monetary compensation for centuries of human rights violations."

The Dems are hedging on reparations (and these are the primaries where everyone is trying to out-left each other).

The Green Party also supports worker co-ops, democratic decision making, and a decentralized economic system that will empower local communities.

That is the economic system I advocate for in my professional career at LIFT Economy. Why not align that with my voting?

I'm not saying the Greens are perfect. It's a very white organization. I need to see much, much, much more people of color involved. The Green Party should be led by people of color and center people of color in every aspect of their organizing / policy positions to get my full throated support.

Here is a link to the #GreenParty platform: https://www.gp.org/platform

My question to you is:

What do you think about Democrats vs Greens? Am I BSing myself? Are you having this same internal struggle?

Nia Evans & Lucas Turner-Owens: The Boston Ujima Project [Ep. 158]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Nia K. Evans is the Director of the Boston Ujima Project. Her educational background is in the areas of labor relations, education leadership, and policy. Her advocacy includes a focus on eliminating barriers between analysts and people with lived experiences as well as increasing acknowledgement of the value of diverse types of expertise in policy.

She is a co-creator of Frames Debate Project, a multimedia policy debate project that explores the intersection between drug policy, mental health services and incarceration in the state of Massachusetts.

Ms. Evans has a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Master of Arts in Education Leadership, with a course of study in Leadership, Policy, and Politics from Teachers College at Columbia University. She also studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she focused on International Labor Relations.


Lucas Turner-Owens serves as the Fund Manager for the Boston Ujima Project. As the Fund Manager, he is responsible for loan packaging, underwriting, and managing Ujima's portfolio of investments. In addition, Lucas also provides technical Assistance to entrepreneurs, connects them with business support organizations, and gives financial education to Ujima's investor base.

Prior to joining the Project, Lucas worked as an economic policy analyst for Operation HOPE, a nonprofit focused on consumer financial education. In this role, Lucas acted as an advisor to the CEO on government affairs and public policy with a focus on strategies designed to benefit underserved communities. After this time spent working in the economic policy space, Lucas worked as a loan officer for Cooperation DC, providing technical assistance and expansion loans from a network of impact investors to grow social enterprises and worker-owned co-operatives in Washington D.C. Following this Lucas joined Next Street Financial as a senior analyst in their Boston office. In this role, he applied his background in small business development and public policy to support clients making impact investments and strategic growth decisions.

Lucas was a founding member of Youth Against Mass Incarceration and has been active in local grassroots movements in Boston in partnership with groups such as Alternatives for Community and Environment and Reclaim Roxbury. Lucas holds a BA from Wesleyan University.

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Interview Highlights:

  • How Lucas and Nia first got into the type of work they are doing today

  • How the Boston Ujima Project is organizing neighbors, workers, business owners, and investors to create a new community controlled economy in Greater Boston.

  • The importance of centering working-class communities of color in the Boston Ujima Project’s work

  • Why the Ujima Project demonstrates new ways to invest, work, buy, own, and advocate.

  • Advice for other groups looking to start similar ecosystems in their own region

Help these ideas reach more eyes & ears:

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Talking to Investors: Q&A with Adam Lowry of Ripple Foods

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What do investors really think about Certified B Corps and benefit corporations? Ripple Foods is both a Certified B Corp and a benefit corp—and they have raised over $100M in venture capital from mainstream investors. LIFT Partner Ryan Honeyman spoke to Adam Lowry, Cofounder and Co-CEO of Ripple Foods, to get his thoughts.

Q: You have raised over $100 million in venture capital from well-known investors like GV, Goldman Sachs, and Khosla Ventures. Have your investors had any positive and/or negative reactions to Ripple being a benefit corporation?

A: Positive! Most established firms are fully on board with, or exclusively investing in, companies that drive social and environmental good. They want those companies to be authentic—driving measurable results and being transparent about what they do and don’t do well and, most importantly, building the capability of continuous improvement. I have never had a potential investor avoid making an investment in our company because we are a benefit corporation.

Q: What sort of language, examples, or arguments have you found effective in helping investors get comfortable with the benefit corporation legal structure?

A: The primary concern I hear is “Does this structure create any new or additional liabilities that a more traditional structure does not?” It helps to have at least a cursory understanding of shareholder provisions. When that is addressed, investors are generally very comfortable. If you need to go in depth, bring in a lawyer with expertise in that area. At times I have leaned on an attorney familiar with benefit corporation statute in order to answer more technical questions.

Q: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who may be uncertain about their ability to raise capital if they convert to a benefit corporation?

A: I think it’s a nonissue. If anything, being a benefit corporation helps in the fundraising process. But be prepared. Do your research to understand the legal differences between benefit corporations and other corporate forms, and don’t be afraid to enlist some help to address a potential investor’s concerns directly.

Q: Do investors have any questions about exit/liquidity as it relates to benefit corporations?

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A: Liquidity is really the same with benefit corporations. That’s dictated by the terms of the purchase agreements that investors sign. The key is not that you can’t sell; it’s that you can’t sell out (compromise your mission for liquidity). I’ve seen some investors push back on that, but, the way I see it, that’s a great litmus test of whether an investor really means it when they say they want to invest in sustainable businesses. I would question someone who pushes back on my benefit corporation and B Corp status. It might be a sign that they are not the right investment partner to have in the first place.

This article is an excerpt from the new Second Edition of The B Corp Handbook. If you would like to learn more, get your copy of the book today and/or sign up for the online launch event on May 30, 2019. To help us spread the word, please check out our promotional guide for The B Corp Handbook. Sign up for the LIFT Economy newsletter and follow Ryan on Twitter (@honeymanconsult) to stay up to date about the book and the B Corp movement.

What Do Investors Think of B Corps?

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What Do Investors Think of B Corps?

Many entrepreneurs want to know whether becoming a Certified B Corporation and/or a benefit corporation will hurt their ability to raise capital. The evidence says no.

According to research compiled by B Lab, 120 venture capital firms have invested more than $2 billion in Certified B Corporations and benefit corporations.

For example, mainstream venture capitalists such as  Andreessen Horowitz, GV, Kleiner Perkins, New Enterprise Associates, and Sequoia Capital have invested in Certified B Corporations. Union Square Ventures, a venture capital firm that invested in Kickstarter, says B Corps are appealing because the companies that produce the most stakeholder value over the next decade will also produce the best financial returns.

Rick Alexander, head of legal policy at B Lab, has written, “Since nearly all B Corps are privately held companies, it would be reasonable to start by asking if venture capital firms invest in B Corps. They do. In fact, at this point, nearly every major Silicon Valley venture capital firm has invested in a B Corp.”

Our B Corp certification is very important to our investors. It helps validate that we are making progress towards our goal of improving the livelihood of agribusinesses in developing nations.
— Gabriel Mwendwa, Pearl Capital Partners, Uganda

Some of the Investors in Certified B Corps:

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I would love to hear your comments. Does this resonate with you? Do you think that investors are more or less likely to invest in B Corps?

This article is an excerpt from the new Second Edition of The B Corp Handbook. If you would like to learn more, get your copy of the book today and/or sign up for the online launch event on May 30, 2019. To help us spread the word, please check out our promotional guide for The B Corp Handbook. Sign up for the LIFT Economy newsletter to stay up to date about the book and the B Corp movement. You can follow Ryan Honeyman on Twitter at @honeymanconsult.

Patagonia Mini-MBA (4 of 4) – Operation [Ep. 157]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Vincent Stanley, co-author with Yvon Chouinard of "The Responsible Company", has been with Patagonia on and off since its beginning in 1973, for many of those years in key executive roles as head of sales or marketing. More informally, he is Patagonia’s long-time chief storyteller. Vincent helped develop the Footprint Chronicles, the company’s interactive website that outlines the social and environmental impact of its products; the Common Threads Partnership; and Patagonia Books. He currently serves as the company’s Director, Patagonia Philosophy, and is a visiting fellow at the Yale School of Management. He is also a poet whose work has appeared in Best American Poetry. He and his wife, the writer Nora Gallagher, live in Santa Barbara.

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Interview Highlights:

  • How Patagonia thinks about social, environmental, and financial goal setting and key performance indicators

  • The thought process behind how Patagonia sets prices for its products

  • Internal and external reporting practices, including the B Impact Assessment and the “Footprint Chronicles'“

  • How Patagonia baked its values and benefit purposes into its company bylaws


Other Episodes in this series:


Help these ideas reach more eyes & ears:

  1. SHARE this post on social media!

  2. RATE Next Economy Now on I-Tunes!

  3. SUBSCRIBE to Next Economy Now: iTunes | Overcast | Stitcher | Etc.

 

LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

How Did the B Corp Movement Start?

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A Brief History: From AND 1 to B Corps

I first discovered the AND 1 mixtapes in the late 1990s. The mixtapes were a series of basketball “streetballing” videos, created by the popular basketball shoe and apparel company AND 1, that featured lightning-quick ball handling, acrobatic slam dunks, and jaw-dropping displays of individual talent. I was a huge fan of the AND 1 mixtapes because the players used flashy, show-off moves that were very different from the more traditional style of basketball played in college or the NBA at the time. I was so fascinated with the mixtapes that he even integrated them into his lesson plans when he worked as an English teacher in Zhejiang Province, China.

Many years later, I was quite surprised to find out that AND 1′s cofounders, Jay Coen Gilbert and Bart Houlahan, along with Andrew Kassoy, their longtime friend and former Wall Street private equity investor, were the people who created the Certified B Corporation. I learned that Coen Gilbert’s and Houlahan’s experiences at AND 1, and Kassoy’s experience on Wall Street, were central to their decision to get together to start B Lab, the nonprofit behind the B Corp movement.

AND 1 was a socially responsible business before the concept was well known, although AND 1 would not have identified with the term back then. AND 1′s shoes weren’t organic, local, or made from recycled tires, but the company had a basketball court at the office, on-site yoga classes, great parental leave benefits, and widely shared ownership of the company. Each year it gave 5 percent of its profits to local charities promoting high-quality urban education and youth leadership development. AND 1 also worked with its overseas factories to implement a best-in-class supplier code of conduct to ensure worker health and safety, fair wages, and professional development.

That was quite progressive for a basketball shoe company, especially because its target consumer was teenage basketball players, not conscious consumers with a large amount of disposable income. AND 1 was a company where employees were proud to work.

AND 1 was also successful financially. From a bootstrapped start-up in 1993 to modest revenues of $4 million in 1995, the company grew to more than $250 million in U.S. revenues by 2001. This meant that AND 1—in less than ten years—had risen to become the number two basketball shoe brand in the United States (behind Nike). As with many endeavors, however, success brought its own set of challenges.

AND 1 had taken on external investors in 1999. At the same time, the retail footwear and clothing industry was consolidating, which put pressure on AND 1′s margins. To make matters worse, Nike decided to put AND 1 in its crosshairs at its annual global sales meeting. Not surprisingly, this combination of external forces and some internal miscues led to a dip in sales and AND 1′s first-ever round of employee layoffs. After painfully getting the business back on track and considering their various options, Coen Gilbert, Houlahan, and their partners decided to put the company up for sale in 2005.

The results of the sale were immediate and difficult for Coen Gilbert and Houlahan to watch. Although the partners went into the sale process with eyes wide open, it was still heartbreaking for them to see all of the company’s preexisting commitments to its employees, overseas workers, and local community stripped away within a few months of the sale.

The Search for “What’s Next?”

In their journey from basketball (and Wall Street) to B Corps, Coen Gilbert, Houlahan, and Kassoy had a general sense of what they wanted to do next: the most good for as many people as possible for as long as possible. How this would manifest, however, was not initially clear.

Kassoy was increasingly inspired by his work with social entrepreneurs as a board member of Echoing Green (a private equity firm focused on social change) and the Freelancers Insurance Company (a future Certified B Corporation). Houlahan became inspired to develop best practices to support values-driven businesses that were seeking to raise capital, grow, and hold on to their socially and environmentally responsible missions. And Coen Gilbert, though proud of AND 1′s culture and practices, wanted to go much further, inspired by the stories of iconic socially responsible brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Newman’s Own, and Patagonia, whose organizing principle seemed to be how to use business for good.

The three men’s initial, instinctive answer to the “What’s next?” question was to create a new company. Although AND 1 had a lot to be proud of, they reasoned, the company hadn’t been started with a specific intention to benefit society. What if they started a company with that intention? After discussing different approaches, however, Coen Gilbert, Houlahan, and Kassoy decided that they would be lucky to create a business as good as those created by existing social entrepreneurs such as Ahmed and Reem Rahim from Numi Organic Tea and Mike Hannigan and Sean Marx from Give Something Back Office Supplies. And more importantly, they decided that even if they could create such a business, one more business, no matter how big and effective, wouldn’t make a dent in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.

They then thought about creating a social investment fund. Why build one company, they reasoned, when you could help build a dozen? That idea was also short lived. The three decided that even if they could be as effective as existing social venture funds such as Renewal Funds, RSF Social Finance, or SJF Ventures, a dozen fast-growing, innovative companies was still not adequate to address society’s challenges on a large scale.

What Coen Gilbert, Houlahan, and Kassoy discovered, after speaking with hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders, was the need for two new basic elements to accelerate the growth of—and amplify the voice of—the entire socially and environmentally responsible business sector. This existing community of leaders said they needed a legal framework to help them grow while maintaining their original mission and values, and credible standards to help them distinguish their businesses in a crowded marketplace, where so many seemed to be making claims about being a “good” company.

To that end, in 2006 Coen Gilbert, Houlahan, and Kassoy cofounded B Lab, a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. The B Lab team worked with many leading businesses, investors, and attorneys to create a comprehensive set of performance and legal requirements—and they started certifying the first B Corporations in 2007.

I often wonder to what extent business can help society in its goals to alleviate poverty, preserve ecosystems, and build strong communities and institutions. . . . B Lab has proven that there is a way.
— Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State

This article is an excerpt from the new Second Edition of The B Corp Handbook. If you would like to learn more, get your copy of the book today and/or sign up for the online launch event on May 30, 2019. To help us spread the word, please check out our promotional guide for The B Corp Handbook. Sign up for the LIFT Economy newsletter to stay up to date about the book and the B Corp movement. You can follow Ryan Honeyman on Twitter at @honeymanconsult.

Patagonia Mini-MBA (3 of 4) – Strategy [Ep. 156]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Vincent Stanley, co-author with Yvon Chouinard of "The Responsible Company", has been with Patagonia on and off since its beginning in 1973, for many of those years in key executive roles as head of sales or marketing. More informally, he is Patagonia’s long-time chief storyteller. Vincent helped develop the Footprint Chronicles, the company’s interactive website that outlines the social and environmental impact of its products; the Common Threads Partnership; and Patagonia Books. He currently serves as the company’s Director, Patagonia Philosophy, and is a visiting fellow at the Yale School of Management. He is also a poet whose work has appeared in Best American Poetry. He and his wife, the writer Nora Gallagher, live in Santa Barbara.

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Interview Highlights:

  • Patagonia’s approach to marketing and how it’s evolved over time

  • Exploration of the thinking behind Patagonia’s feature-length films

  • How Patagonia intentionally cultivates their brand community

  • Standing up for what you stand for might mean standing against or alienating potential customers and strategic partners

  • Doing what’s right and authentic is good business


Other Episodes in this series:


Help these ideas reach more eyes & ears:

  1. SHARE this post on social media!

  2. RATE Next Economy Now on I-Tunes!

  3. SUBSCRIBE to Next Economy Now: iTunes | Overcast | Stitcher | Etc.

 

LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Key Developments in the B Corp Movement (Since the First Edition)

GROWING THE GLOBAL MOVEMENT. Juan Pablo Larenas, cofounder and executive director of Sistema B, speaks about B Corporations to an audience in São Paulo, Brazil.


A lot of progress has been made since The B Corp Handbook was first published in 2014. Here are some of the major developments in the B Corp movement since then.

International Growth

There are now more Certified B Corps based outside than inside of the United States. There are Certified B Corps in more than sixty countries, including Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Kenya, Mongolia, the Netherlands, and Zambia (to name a few).

This expansion is due, in large part, to the tireless work of B Lab (the nonprofit behind the B Corp movement) and its partners around the world.

These global partners include B Lab U.S., B Lab Canada, Sistema B (Latin America), B Lab Australia and New Zealand, B Lab United Kingdom, B Lab Europe, B Lab Taiwan, B Lab East Africa, B Market Builders in Hong Kong and Korea, and the B Corp China team.

Private Equity/Venture Capital Investors

Mainstream investors are becoming much more receptive to the B Corp idea. For example, B Lab has collected publicly available information on more than $2 billion of investment in B Corps and benefit corporations by 150 different venture capital firms to date.

Indeed, nearly every major Silicon Valley venture capital firm has invested in a Certified B Corporation and/or a benefit corporation. This includes Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, Founders Fund, Goldman Sachs, Greylock Partners, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Kleiner Perkins, New Enterprise Associates, and Sequoia Capital.

Multinationals

Another important development has been growing interest of multinational organizations in the B Corp movement.

For example, Danone, a $25 billion publicly traded food conglomerate, declared in 2017 that it seeks to become the first Fortune 500 company to earn B Corp certification. Danone has also certified ten of its subsidiaries as B Corporations. This includes Danone North America, which, at $6 billion in annual revenues, is the largest Certified B Corp in the world.

Unilever, a $62 billion publicly traded consumer goods multinational, has recently made a number of B Corp acquisitions. From 2016 to 2017, Unilever acquired five Certified B Corps: Mãe Terra, Pukka Herbs, Seventh Generation, Sir Kensington’s, and Sundial Brands. This was in addition to Ben & Jerry’s, acquired by Unilever in 2000, which became a Certified B Corp in 2012.

Natura, a Brazilian-based B Corp and leader in the cosmetics industry, made headlines when it acquired The Body Shop in 2017. This was the first billion-dollar acquisition by a B Corp—and it was a surprise to many people that a B Corp was the acquirer.

Public Markets

In 2017, Laureate Education, a higher education company with campuses around the world, was the first benefit corporation to have an initial public offering (IPO). Laureate Education was also the third Certified B Corporation to go public in the United States (behind former B Corps Rally Software and Etsy).

Laureate, which was backed by the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, raised $490 million in its IPO. The company had previously closed a $383 million private equity pre-IPO round in 2016, which included Apollo Management, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and the Abraaj Group.

Laureate Education going public is a big deal because many commentators were unsure about how the markets would react to a company that, as a benefit corporation, legally holds itself accountable to considering all stakeholders (students, workers, community, the environment, and others) when making decisions.

Globally, other publicly traded B Corps currently include Australian Ethical, Murray River Organics, Silver Chef, and Vivid Technologies (in Australia); Natura (Brazil); Yash Papers (India); and O-Bank (Taiwan).

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PUBLICLY LISTED B CORPS. Tina Lo, vice chairwoman of O-Bank Group, a publicly traded B Corp bank in Taiwan, speaks to reporters at a B Corp event in Asia.

Benefit Corporation Governance

In a time of political gridlock, the B Corporation has generated bipartisan support across the globe.

In the United States, legislation to create benefit corporations—a new corporate governance structure based on the B Corp idea—has been passed in “red” states like Louisiana and South Carolina, “blue” states like California and New York, swing states like Colorado and Pennsylvania, and even in Delaware, the home of corporate law, where more than 63 percent of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated. There are thousands of benefit corporations to date across 37 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Internationally, after being endorsed in 2014 by the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force, benefit corporation laws have been passed in Italy and Colombia, with many other countries currently considering legislation. It is not hard to see why this idea receives bipartisan support. The benefit corporation legal structure and the B Corp certification are pro-business, pro-environment, pro-market, and pro-community.

Academia

When the first edition of The B Corp Handbook was published, in 2014, there were perhaps ten to twenty schools teaching about B Corporations. Now there are more than one thousand faculty members teaching about B Corps at more than five hundred colleges and universities—including the Federal University of Technology–Paraná, Harvard, the London School of Economics, MIT, North Carolina State University, Stanford, the University of Alberta, Yale, and other top academic institutions across the globe.

It is clear that professors, students, and administrators around the world have recognized that in order to change the way we do business, we need to change the way we teach business.

There are two formal networks of academics: the Global B Corp Academic Community and Academia B. The goal of these networks is to advance the state of academic study into business as a force for good.

Impact Management

We manage what we measure. This is one of the most basic truths in business. It follows that we ought to measure what matters most: the ability of a business to not only generate returns but also create value for its customers, employees, community, and the environment. To date, forty thousand companies have used the B Impact Assessment, a free tool that measures any company’s overall social and environmental performance.

Bancolombia, the largest bank in Columbia and the third largest in Latin America, is a great example of a company that has used the B Impact Assessment to measure its impact beyond its own operations. For example, Bancolombia started using the B Impact Assessment to measure the social and environmental impacts of 150 of its key suppliers. The bank used the impact data to generate performance reports and highlight areas for improvement for suppliers who completed the assessment.

Bancolombia envisions this as the first phase of a multiyear effort that they hope will eventually create deeper alignment and engagement with their more than thirteen thousand suppliers and one million customers throughout South America.

Another impact management tool that is becoming increasingly used is B Analytics. B Analytics is a flexible data platform that automatically aggregates and analyzes B Impact Assessment data. B Analytics is important because it allows investors, fund managers, nonprofits, and large corporations to accelerate change in the markets and to encourage change in their business communities.

For instance, organizations like Ashoka, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, Conscious Capitalism, the Family Business Network, Social Capital Markets, and the Young Professionals Organization are helping companies in their network to measure and manage their positive impact.

“Best For” and “+ B” Campaigns

On a local level, B Lab has partnered with place-based leaders and local governments to create a series of “Best For” and “+ B” initiatives around the world. In 2015, the Best for NYC campaign encouraged all businesses in New York City to measure, compare, and improve their impact.

The program was made possible by a coalition of partners, including community organizations, business and trade associations, universities, government agencies, banks, and large employers committed to supporting the local economy.

Since then, other campaigns have included Best for Calais (France); Best for Geneva (Switzerland); Best for PDX (Portland, Oregon); Best for PHL (Philadelphia); MZA + B (Mendoza, Argentina); RIO + B (Río de Janeiro, Brazil); and STGO + B (Santiago, Chile). More cities will be launching similar campaigns in the near future.

Inclusive Economy Challenge

B Lab launched the Inclusive Economy Challenge in 2016. The challenge is a call to action, encouraging the B Corp community to increase its collective positive impact by moving toward a more diverse and equitable economy.

Each year, companies participating in the Inclusive Economy Challenge choose three or more goals from the Inclusive Economy Metric Set, a subset of B Impact Assessment questions that focuses on themes like supporting vulnerable workers, climate change mitigation, supplier screening, and corporate governance.

In the first year, 175 companies participated in the challenge, collectively achieving 298 measurable inclusion goals. B Lab launched this challenge because they, like many B Corps, believe that our community’s vision of a shared and durable prosperity is not possible without an inclusive economy.

In addition, B Lab realizes that the Inclusive Economy Challenge is only a start. There is a lot more for B Lab and the B Corp community to learn about DEI. Whether you are interested in becoming a Certified B Corporation or not, B Lab has created a set of relevant, practical, and helpful best practice guides that any company can use to build a more inclusive business. Visit bcorporation.net to download these guides and/or to learn more about the Inclusive Economy Challenge.


Want to learn more? Get your copy of “The B Corp Handbook” today and/or sign up for our online launch event on May 30, 2019. To help us spread the word, please check out our promotional guide for The B Corp Handbook. Sign up for the LIFT Economy newsletter to stay up to date about the book and the B Corp movement.