Thousands of businesses have chosen to be certified as B Corps and they represent a very broad church. No two are the same. At the most basic technical level a B Corp is a business (not a charity or NGO) that has chosen to go through a rigorous assessment process which covers five key areas – Environment, Workers, Customers, Community and Governance. You have to repeat and improve on your certification process every two years, which means you accept that you are on a journey and that you need to keep getting better. You have to score at least 80 points out of a possible 200, which is actually quite difficult to do. And you have to sign up to the Declaration of Interdependence, which means your business puts stakeholders and shareholders on an equal footing.
Why is it a Movement?
It is a movement because B Corps want ‘Business as a force for Good’ to become business as usual. We want to work together, trade with each other, and change the world. We have a shared dream that business can be a force for good.
When did it start?
The B Corp movement first started in 2006, about one year after we discovered London’s Decommissioned fire-hose and launched Elvis & Kresse. They have had some pretty amazing milestones along the way, you can learn more here.
We have a shared dream that business can be a force for good.
Why is it important?
We think this is important for two key reasons.
1. The current model of capitalism allows for the privatization of profit while risks are public. Although businesses have to pay for labour, supplies, and contribute to society through taxes there are enormous social and environmental externalities that are not accounted for. Businesses create collateral damage. The best way to explain this is through an example. Cotton is a water intensive crop, but when companies buy cotton to make t-shirts or bedding, they pay once for the cotton, not for a potential contribution to a local drought. All businesses use transport, and pay for the associated fuels, but they don’t pay for the impact that fossil fuels have on air quality or climate change. As long as there is pure shareholder primacy and financial profit is king, this won’t change.
2. There is talk and then there is action. Many businesses love to talk about the good things that they do but is it just marketing? Being a B Corp is not about talk, it is about doing what you say. It is about action.
Why Elvis & Kresse decided to become a B Corp (certified since 2015)?
We guess we were a B Corp before there were B Corps. We only do three things, we rescue materials, we transform them, and we donate 50% of the associated profits to charity. We exist to solve environmental problems and ensure that there is a circular flow of capital back into great causes. We don’t just think that businesses should be better, we know that they simply must be in order to combat climate change, redress rising inequality and ensure that future generations have a future. We are also a B Corp because being one is truly joyful. It is an optimistic, hard working movement that is happy to roll up its sleeves and muck-in, and it does this with a smile.