The Second Edition of The B Corp Handbook
An interview with Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Director of Inclusive Economies at B Lab US
Released in April 2019 this book, written by B Corp consultants, delves into the what, why and how of B Corp Certification, with a strong focus on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and its importance to the B Corp community, our global society at large and the inclusive economy we’re empowering.
This year, B Lab US secured funding to start an in-house movement towards a more inclusive economy. They hired Dr. Ellonda L. Green as Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Dr. Kathryn Buford as Director of Inclusive Economies.
At B Lab UK, we wanted to share their thoughts with our UK readers and highlight the work that is happening across the pond. Here’s what the US team thought of the second edition of the B Corp Handbook.
How does this new edition of The B Corp Handbook support the meaningful EDI work that’s taking place at B Lab US and B Corps around the world?
Dr. Green: Becoming a B Corp means successfully meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. That process — although both rewarding and beneficial — can be a heavy lift for organisations. The handbook is a tool that every business owner who is interested in creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive economy should read.
It’s an informative, inspirational and practical guide that offers insight on how organisations can use their business for good with direction from members of the B Corp community. The handbook offers the opportunity to hear directly from the community about the benefits and challenges of becoming a Certified B Corporation.
Dr. Buford: The inspiring and practical interviews in this handbook remind us, more and more, why we do this work: The leaders who redesign business will redesign the world. A world that recognises equity, diversity and inclusion as indispensable.
Like each leader in The B Corp Handbook, B Lab recognises that organisational and social innovation thrives in diverse environments. We are committed to welcoming those who are currently underrepresented in the B Corp movement — especially those who do not identify as white, male, hetero-presenting, cisgender, physically able, or neuro-typical. Welcoming more of these diverse voices means welcoming them with a respect for their shared histories, invaluable contributions, and the enduring social and economic oppression that disproportionately disadvantages them. Moreover, it means relying on knowledge from diverse groups themselves as we continue to imagine new ways of creating a shared and durable prosperity for all.
Can you tell us a bit more about EDI work at B Lab in the US?
Dr. Green: Working to create a more inclusive business is hard work — creating that shift globally is even harder. B Lab has a vision of an inclusive and sustainable economy that creates a shared prosperity for all.
While the challenges and insights of equity, diversity and inclusion have long resonated in business, across the nation and the world, it is important to remember that they also manifest in each of us on an intensely personal level. We all have an opportunity to gain insight from both inspiring and devastating events in history, as well as to apply new understanding to our own life experiences.
As a result of the workplace inclusion survey conducted in 2017, B Lab committed to leading its equitable practices in a more strategic and sustainable way, as noted in an earlier B the Change article: “Of all the work B Lab has done for the Inclusive Economy Challenge, the single most important step we took was to survey our full staff on their experiences of our workplace.”
The survey findings prompted introspection from the organisation and challenged B Lab to start in-house to lead the movement. The Executive Team and the Board of Directors approved funding for new employees focused on equity, diversity and inclusion. In January 2019 I came on board with B Lab as the inaugural Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and even more recently, in February 2019, my new colleague Dr. Kathryn Buford debuted as our Director of Inclusive Economies. In addition to these hires, B Lab increased operating budgets allocated for EDI professional development and trainings while reinforcing a steadfast commitment to creating an inviting environment for all through more equitable practices and initiatives.
At B Lab, we will continue to look ahead as we concentrate on the continued execution of our mission and goals. We will find our greatest success through the contributions that each one of us makes. Diversity enhances our work by exposing and challenging us to consider, weigh and value the thoughts, experiences and practices of others different from ourselves.
Why is B Lab US committed to sharing these EDI practices with the B Corp community and broader movement?
Dr. Buford: Businesses will not realise their full social or economic potential in a society that allows social and economic marginalisation. We all suffer when oppressive systems privilege some but not others. The work of recovering from and repairing the damage of social and economic exclusion is not work for marginalised groups to do alone.
Want to help us create a more inclusive economy? Sign up to the Inclusive Economy Challenge here.