Impact Investing, Systems Thinking and, Yes, Ethics Can Lead the Way As We Seek to Solve Global Problems

B the Change
Aug 27 · 4 min read
As we grapple with an exploding human population and its impact on a finite planet, the way we determine “success” in business and in investing must change. (Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash)

Each of us has the power to change the economy.

Every dollar we spend or invest, every hour we work, and every transaction we make with other companies is a vote for the type of business and economy we want to succeed. By buying a company’s product, we’re endorsing its practices — and many times, the way that business treats its workers and uses natural resources doesn’t align with the way we would want it to act.

But how can we find businesses — without hours of research — that do align with our values? How can we trust that what a business says about its practices isn’t just a marketing scheme, with little basis in reality?

Certified B Corporations are the only businesses whose environmental and social impact across all aspects of their operations are reviewed and verified by an independent third party. That means any company with the Certified B Corporation logo is committed to building a better, more inclusive world — through all levels of its business, from product sourcing to employee benefits to executive compensation.

By supporting B Corps, we can use our daily choices to change capitalism from a system that benefits the few to one that benefits all. We can support organizations with our time and money so they, in turn, support us and our future.

Here’s a look at two B Corps that are walking the talk of business as a force for good.

Riding the Impact Investment Wave

There’s no doubt that humankind is facing a variety of significant, intractable global-scale challenges in an unprecedented way. The scale of problems like climate change, wealth and income inequality, environmental degradation and racial injustice can be paralyzing.

Tripp Baird of The Builders Fund, a B Corp, notes that two things have become increasingly clear during his career in the financial world:

1. Most of our problems are connected; and

2. The underlying catalyst of the vast majority of our environmental and social issues is the broad acceptance of an economic model that encourages short-term, extractive behaviors.

This is what impact investing should be out to fundamentally change, Baird says: “Every company has impacts on its employees, customers, communities in which it operates, and the shared natural world, whether or not the company monitors these impacts. The majority of fund managers today are picking extractive shareholder returns over social well-being and environmental sustainability, and prioritizing profits over the lives of those impacted to make a profit.”

He adds: “Imagine a financial system that served humanity and protected our ‘blue marble.’ It is possible to generate fair, market and even outsize returns for investors and shareholders while also benefiting society and the planet — by choosing to take a longer-term approach and by tending to the interconnected web of relationships each corporation must maintain to survive and grow. And we have found that this approach is actually a competitive advantage — a driver of economic value creation and a mitigator of risk — rather than the broadly-assumed alternative.”

Read more about a new way of managing investments on B the Change.

A Cabot Creamery Cooperative farm family.

A Cheesy Way to Create a Better World

Cabot Creamery Cooperative, a Vermont-based B Corp, is part of a rare remaining breed of dairy manufacturers in the Northeast who are locally owned and operated. For nearly a century, Cabot Creamery has returned 100 percent of profits to the farm-family owners who provide fair wage employment to hundreds, sustain open working landscapes, and safeguard their family farming heritage.

Through these business practices, Cabot supports dairy manufacturers who align with its values and help build a healthier future — and the B Corp encourages its workers to do the same with their daily choices.

As Roberta MacDonald, senior vice president of marketing at Cabot, says: “Every component of our cheese, every hand that tendered our cheese, and every soul who sold our cheese has been certified as good for the community and the environment. We are walking the talk and are not just green- or good-washing with pretty words.”

Get the full scoop on Cabot’s commitment to business for good on B the Change.

The Builders Fund and Cabot Creamery Cooperative are part of the community of Certified B Corporations. Read more stories of people using business as a force for good in B the Change or sign up to receive the B the Change Weekly newsletter for more stories like the one above, delivered straight to your inbox.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

B the Change

Written by

We exist to inform and inspire people who have a passion for using business as a force for good in the world. Published by B Lab and the community of B Corps.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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