A lesson in biology: What can a plant cell teach us about the B Corp movement?
Written for a school project, Bryce Anderson connects the similarities between the structure of B Corp and a plant cell
Reinventing Business shares this letter from Bryce Anderson, an eighth-grader at Millennium School in San Francisco. His father, Ben, is Chief B Keeper for B Lab, the nonprofit that oversees Certified B Corporations.
Bryce wrote the letter while studying cell biology and, more specifically, the characteristics of being alive in his favourite class — science. As a final project, Bryce crafted this letter to B Lab on how the organisation and a plant cell have similar structures. As Bryce says: “I love the environment and nature, and I think B Lab is an awesome way to help both of those things. Without further ado, let’s begin.”
For a plant cell, the cell wall acts as a stabiliser for the plant, keeping it sturdy and balanced. If the cell wall does not have proper nutrients, the plant starts to wilt. I think the cell wall of B Lab is the five values that you need to keep in mind to become a Certified B Corporation: environment, workers, community, governance and customers. These values provide structure to B Corps just like the cell wall provides structure for a cell. The cell wall is one of the most important parts of the plant, and the five B Corp values are an important part of B Lab.
Secondly, the cell membrane acts as a filter for cells, only letting certain things in, to protect the cell from bacteria and other harmful things. The cell membrane of B Lab is the certification process that makes sure a business meets some guidelines to become a B Corp, and no business can just become a B Corp without a good purpose. I agree that thinking about the certification process as a cell membrane will help your company thrive, because the cell membrane keeps the cell happy and healthy.
Additionally, mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. So what serves as the powerhouse of B Lab? I think it is the certified companies themselves. Without people wanting to make a difference in the business world, B Corps would be nothing. Those people and companies power B Lab workers to keep trying and to stay motivated. Make sure to never take the first B Corps for granted, because B Lab is growing at a crazy rate.
Next, let’s talk about the nucleus. It acts as the Wikipedia of the cell, a place where everything is stored: DNA, information, instructions. The nucleus of B Lab is the B Corp website. It has virtually anything you would want to know about B Corps, and was a big source of the information for this letter. B Corps are becoming more of a mainstream and popular thing, so it’s good to have a valuable source of information for the public.
Finally, the chloroplasts help the cell perform photosynthesis, taking outside energy and storing it for later use. For B Lab, the chloroplasts are donations. B Lab takes the money from outside funders and either pays its employees to advance the B Corp movement or stores the money for later projects. Because B Lab is a nonprofit, it relies a lot on external sources of money. Like chloroplasts do for a cell, these donations have a huge impact on B Lab and show that other people see business as a source for good.
In conclusion, I hope you find these metaphors helpful for B Lab. Just like the cell wall helps the plant stay stable, I hope you know that the five B Corp values keep B Lab stable and structured. The cell membrane filters good and bad things into the cell, and I hope you keep that in mind when certifying companies that have the best practices. The powerhouse of the cell is mitochondria, and the powerhouse of B Corps are the certified companies. I hope you can continue to be inspired by them. The nucleus stores all the information and DNA for the cell, and I hope that you keep updating your website with new content to inform the public about B Lab. Just like the chloroplasts, make sure to take the energy from donations and use it wisely.
This article was originally published by B the Change, which shares the stories of people using business as a force for good.
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A first step for businesses interested in measuring their social and environmental impact is by using the free B Impact Assessment tool. Any company wishing to certify as a B Corp has its performance assessed by B Lab across all dimensions of its business. These companies are on a journey of continuous improvement to ensure business leverages its power to be a positive force in the world.
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