B Corp is a movement, not a moment

Laura Oliphant
Written by Laura Oliphant

Tags: leadership public relations sustainability

As B Corp month draws to a close, we reflect on how the movement has evolved, what it means to us at Stand and how we can continue to raise the bar above and beyond accreditation.

How did B Corp start, and how has the movement grown? 

For those not already familiar with the concept of a B Corp, the movement began almost 17 years ago in the US by three university friends who set out on a mission to revolutionise capitalism. They saw a world that revolved around profits, detached from the suffering of people and the planet which often comes at this expense, and sought to redefine how to ‘do business’. Since then, the movement has experienced huge growth. There are now more than 1,000 B Corps in the UK alone, making it one of the largest and fastest-growing B Corp communities in the world.  

Its success reflects worldwide shifts in people’s mindsets; as awareness of the impacts of globalisation and climate change has grown, people have started to demand more from businesses and their employers. It’s no longer good enough to talk about how ‘purposeful’ your company is, or to dedicate a few lines to sustainability on your website. Organisations are now expected to demonstrate a tangible positive impact on the world. More and more, consumers are ‘putting their money where their mouth’ is and favouring brands that are actively contributing positively to society. 

What is B Corp month and how has Stand taken part?

Throughout March, B Corp month has been celebrated by B Corps across the globe as a chance to demonstrate how they ‘go beyond’ what is expected from them as a business, with this year’s theme #WeGoBeyond. Exceeding industry expectations and standards is a key element of what it means to be a B Corp.  

For Stand, B Corp month has not just been about showcasing how we live and breathe the B Corp values, it was a good time to revisit how we operate and look at our internal practices 18 months on from accreditation. A big part of this was who we bank with. We took the decision to break up with Barclays who continue to invest in oil and gas development, despite the detrimental impact this has on the climate.  We have moved to Co-op, a bank that better aligns with our core values and mission to create meaningful change. You can read more about our decision to break up with Barclays here.

Central to our approach has also been to shine a light on the amazing work of other B Corps, to raise awareness of the movement as a whole and encourage those who have not yet embarked on the B Corp journey to consider doing so. For example, we hosted a B Corp office party where we tried and tested some B Corp products and shared our experience of them on social media. Members of our team have also explained what the accreditation, and working for a company with it, means to them individually.

There are currently over 6,000 B Corps in 89 countries, each required to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability, in an effort to use their businesses as a force for good. As B Lab explains, “Together, we are shifting our global economy from a system that profits few, to one that benefits all…”. 

With large companies starting to achieve accreditation, does this risk the B Corp name becoming a tokenistic stamp?  

As the B Corp movement has grown, we’ve seen a rise in the number of large corporations achieving B Corp status, such as Nespresso and Nestlé. For some, this has raised questions about the credibility of the accreditation scheme. However, for us at Stand, B Corp is less about the individual companies that join, and more about the movement as a whole. There’s no denying that it has set a new industry standard for how to do business, and the more companies meeting B Corp’s relatively high standards, the better.  

The real journey begins after accreditation. As the movement grows and evolves, it will become less about who’s in and who’s out – the focus will turn to what companies are doing with the badge, and how they raise the bar across all aspects of how they operate.  

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