Being Part of a Global Community of Leaders
The incredible value of the community itself came as a surprise for many B Corps.
Many said that they were originally interested in becoming a Certified B Corporation in order to take advantage of the marketing benefits, to receive discounts on products and services, or to benchmark their social and environmental performance.
But, almost universally, it has been the strength of the global community—and the sense of being part of something bigger than an individual business—that has become the most deeply fulfilling aspect of B Corp certification.
The positivity, collaboration, diversity of experience, innovation, and joy of being part of a global community that shares your core values and a clear sense of purpose is what inspires, motivates, and energizes B Corps to use their businesses as a force for good.
The B Corp community benefits from a high level of trust, a focus on equity and belonging, and an entrepreneurial spark that is very powerful.
In many ways, the value of the B Corp community itself makes sense. The rigor of the B Corp certification process means that it takes serious dedication to complete, which helps to filter out businesses that are not truly committed to meeting high standards of performance, accountability, and transparency.
The result is a passionate, highly innovative group of some of the most socially and environmentally conscious businesses on the planet.
While the B Corp movement started in the United States, it was never intended to remain an American phenomenon. Indeed, since the first edition of this book was published in 2014, there are now more B Corps based outside of the United States than inside. This is because using business as a force for good has global appeal.
For example, whether you are a sole proprietor, a national brand, or global business with billions in sales, and whether your focus is on strengthening local communities, reducing global poverty, or addressing climate change, being part of a larger movement can help build collective voice, accelerate the adoption of standards, drive capital, help secure supportive public policies, and inspire consumers to change their behavior.
To give you a sense of the power of this international movement, we asked each of B Lab’s global partners to give us a few highlights of some of their region’s accomplishments.
Note that the following is only a small sampling of highlights—visit the B Corporation website for more information on each region. Here are some of the big wins and key milestones from each global partner.
Sistema B (Latin America), established in 2012
After initially starting in four countries—Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia—the B Corp movement has spread to fifteen countries in Latin America.
Grupo Bancolombia, the largest bank in Colombia, launched the first Measure What Matters program in the region. The program’s initial focus was to use the B Impact Assessment to measure and manage the social and environmental impacts of 150 of its key suppliers. Fifteen other large companies in Latin America are following suit.
Natura Cosméticos, a publicly traded B Corp based in Brazil, acquired The Body Shop and Aesop, spreading the B Corp movement to seventy countries.
Santiago, Chile; Mendoza, Argentina; and Río de Janeiro, Brazil, launched Cities + B initiatives that bring together businesses, universities, foundations, public institutions, entrepreneurs, and citizens to develop solutions to their region’s most difficult social and environmental challenges. A key component of these ongoing initiatives is to encourage businesses in each city to measure, manage, and improve their impact with the B Impact Assessment.
More than 2,500 people take part in the Multiplicadores B (or B Multipliers) program to help spread the B Corp movement in Latin America.
Colombia became the third country (behind the United States and Italy) to pass benefit corporation legislation. Five other Latin American countries are currently debating benefit corporation legislation in parliament.
B Lab Australia and New Zealand, established 2014
Australia has four Australian Stock Exchange–listed companies that are Certified B Corps: Australian Ethical Investments, Murray River Organics, Silver Chef, and Vivid Technology.
In 2017, the first local B Corp Champions Retreat drew two hundred B Corp Leaders from across Australia and New Zealand.
B Lab Australia and New Zealand have begun pioneering an ecosystem partnership model with various organizations (such as banks, utility companies, and universities) who want to join the movement and accelerate the growth of the B Economy.
Benefit corporation legislation has attracted widespread support from across the business and legal communities and is currently being considered by the federal government.
We became a B Corp because we wanted to be in a community of like-minded, like-hearted people and to be part of a leading movement for positive change. As a certain African proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Zara Choy, Digital Storytellers—Australia
B Lab Canada, established 2015
FlipGive became the first Certified B Corp outside the United States, in 2008.
Business Development Bank of Canada became the first Crown corporation to certify as a B Corporation. The bank has dedicated staff resources to growing the B Corp movement, starting in Western Canada and scaling to include other regions.
Dutch Canadian Credit Union became the first credit union to become a Certified B Corporation. To date, five credit unions in Canada (representing more than 600,000 members) have become Certified B Corps.
British Columbia is looking to become the first Commonwealth jurisdiction to introduce benefit corporation legislation.
B Lab United Kingdom, established 2015
Scotland became the first country to launch a national impact management program.
More than one hundred large, high-profile (including publicly traded) companies in the UK engaged with the B Corp movement and began to measure their social and environmental performance via the B Impact Assessment.
B Lab UK delivered its B Leaders training program to create a dynamic group of champions to promote B Corps across the United Kingdom.
With core funding from the UK Department for International Development, B Lab began a project to map the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals onto the B Impact Assessment.
The UK government is committed to exploring the creation of a legal form in line with the benefit corporation.
B Lab Taiwan, established 2015
O-Bank from Taiwan became the first publicly listed B Corp bank in the world.
At the 2016 B Corp Annual Asia Forum, the president of Taiwan praised B Corporations “for their spirit of innovation and community service” and stressed that the government would continue to support the development of B Corporations and social enterprises.
At the Taipei Stock Exchange, B Corp certification is recognized as part of initial public offering support documentation.
The B Corp movement was championed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation business advisory meeting, getting B Corps on the desk of the leaders of each of APEC’s twenty-three member states.
B Lab Europe, established 2015
Group Danone signed a partnership agreement with B Lab, helping to pave the way for multinationals to measure, compare, and improve their overall social and environmental impact.
Geneva, Switzerland, and Calais, France, joined other global cities in running citywide Best For campaigns, which, in partnership with local government and civil society organizations, encourage businesses to measure, compare, and improve their social and environmental impact.
A coalition of more than two hundred Dutch companies and organizations, including Certified B Corps, appealed to the Dutch government to prioritize the UN Sustainable Development Goals within the upcoming government coalition agreement.
Following the tireless work of Nativa cofounders Eric Ezechieli and Paolo Di Cesare, Italy became the first country outside of the United States to pass benefit corporation legislation.
B Lab East Africa, established 2017
B Lab East Africa established partnerships with Sustainable Inclusive Business (part of the largest private sector alliance in Kenya), Self Help Africa, and B Team Africa to promote impact measurement using the B Impact Assessment.
Enda, the first Kenyan running shoe manufacturer, registered as a benefit corporation in the United States and raised initial funding through B Corp Kickstarter.
Olivia Muiru, executive director of B Lab East Africa, was recognized as a 2017 Skoll World Forum Emerging Leader.
B Market Builder: Hong Kong, established 2017
The B Corp idea was presented at the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Summit, at local universities, to the government efficiency unit, and to the undersecretary for home affairs, helping to jumpstart the growth of the B Corp movement in the region.
Multiple B Leaders courses were conducted in Hong Kong in 2017 with the support of B Lab UK.
Two Chinese-language books on B Corps were published in Hong Kong in the past two years.
Although we are aware of Shared Value, Conscious Capitalism, and other models, we believe that the B Corp idea is particularly valuable and relevant for Hong Kong. B Corp certification is the only framework that provides a tangible and measurable road map that can help a business make the transition to be a force for good.
K. K. Tse, Education for Good—Hong Kong
B Corp China Team, established 2017
China’s most celebrated and influential economist, Wu Jinglian, publicly recognized benefit corporation legislation and the global B Corp movement as one of the most “notable economic trends,” during his keynote speech at the China Europe International Business School CSR [corporate social responsibility] Forum in Beijing, China.
The B Generation program, a youth leadership program to inspire, engage, and empower students to lead a global movement of people using business as a force for good, was officially launched at New York University Shanghai, China Europe International Business School, Peking University, and Tsinghua University.
Professor Chris Marquis at the Harvard Kennedy School published a case study on First Respond, the first Certified B Corp in China. First Respond’s achievement as the first B Corp in mainland China was also featured in a national news article in the China Daily.
B Lab Korea, established 2018
The Growth Ladder Fund for start-ups (a program initiated by the Financial Services Committee of Korea) includes “B Corp” as one of the evaluation indicators used to select investments.
The Korea International Cooperation Agency requires grantees of its Creative Technology Solutions program to obtain B Corp certification.
The Korean government unveiled its policy road map for social ventures in Korea, indicating support at the government level for the B Corp movement.
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. You can also 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.