Shifting the image of business from greed to good
Businesses can join forces to address global issues and the B Corp assessment is the best place to start
Written by Douglas Lamont, CEO at innocent drinks (originally published on LinkedIn)
This month is B Corp month, which is all about celebrating companies that have chosen to use business as a force for good. I thought I’d put down a few words on what it means to innocent to have become a B Corp last year and why I’d encourage businesses of all shapes and sizes to join the movement.
At innocent, we’ve always believed there’s a way of doing business that’s better than just maximising your profits at all costs. Better for people, better for the planet, better for our peace of mind when we’re getting to sleep at night. Since innocent was founded in 1999, we have always strived to build a business that we can be proud of. Sometimes it was tricky and sometimes it stopped us from doing things we wanted to do to grow in a competitive market but we have never compromised our values. Our decision to partner with Coca-Cola as a shareholder back in 2009, whilst controversial on the face of it, was in fact borne out of their strong support for us to continue to deliver on our purpose, vision and values, and that is how it has worked out. That’s why we are where we are today: proud of what we stand for and the success we have had as a company.
Last year, we officially put our ways-of-working where our mouth was and started the challenging certification process to become a B corp. We believed we had always lived the principles of B Corp — balancing the need for profit with the needs of people and the planet, so it was reassuring to pass the certification. More importantly, it was fantastic to join 3,000 other like-minded companies around the world who also believe in a better way of doing things, to learn from them, to be inspired by them and to share one collective voice.
So what is that collective voice shouting about?
Well our view is that despite the many great things that post WWII free market economy has brought us, there are clearly some flaws that are increasingly apparent causing political, economic and social division and, most importantly, driving global warming at an alarming rate.
We are optimistic that these flaws can be addressed but it needs businesses to lead alongside governments; to use the huge resources at our collective disposal to take a leadership position far beyond a mindset of “compliance to local regulation”.
I think the will is out there to make this change amongst the many leaders I talk to. Often the issue is they don’t know where to begin or are afraid of that first “honest assessment” of where they are today.
That is where I believe B Corp is so powerful. The process of certification provides businesses of all size and types a great framework to understand where they are today and what immediate steps they can take on a journey to becoming a true force for good. I guarantee just the act of starting this process will drive real engagement amongst your employees and be a great signal of your intent. This is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do — in a world where employees and consumers increasingly want absolute transparency there is lots of evidence to show that B Corp’s have higher employee engagement, financial results and better looking CEO’s*
At innocent, we will strive to continue to do business in the right way, and along with our fellow B Corps try and inspire wider change, just as we’ve always done. The reality is we need many more companies to make the leap to become a force for good in order to shift the perception of business from greed to good and to have a shot at addressing the huge challenges in front of us.
Sound like a big job? It is. But if you’re reading this and wondering if your business should start the journey to become a B Corp, my advice is simply this: absolutely. As businesses we control a large portion of how Earth’s resources are handled and distributed, it is our duty and responsibility to make sure we aren’t messing it up. Go to the free online impact assessment tool to start that journey: https://bimpactassessment.net/
When I sit in my rocking chair (or robotic hover-recliner, who knows) in years to come and look back I already know that I will remember innocent’s contribution to doing business the right way with far more pride and satisfaction than any financial scorecard I have ever delivered. Go on B the Change…
*we are also prone to exaggeration at times to make a point memorable
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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