B Corps, Thinkshift news

B Corp Retreat Shows Sustainable Business Is Picking Up Steam

Thinkshift | September 26, 2013

We’re B Corporation boosters (you might have noticed). We loved the concept the minute we heard of it, thought it had real potential when Thinkshift became a B Corp in 2010, and are more convinced than ever after last week’s B Corp Champions Retreat in Boulder, Colorado, that the movement has legs. Three reasons:

1. B Corps are sustainable business leaders. The evidence is mounting that B is not only for benefit—it’s also for better. According to B Lab, the certifier of B Corps, B Corps were 63 percent more likely to survive the recession (2007–2012) than the average U.S. small business. And even compared with other sustainable businesses, B Corps are more likely to:

  • Pay bonuses to employees who are not part of the executive team (45 percent more likely)
  • Offer employees more than 20 hours per year of paid time off to volunteer in their community (nearly 2.5 times more likely)
  • Use suppliers that are certified to meet social and environmental standards (nearly 3 times more likely)
  • Donate at least 10 percent of profits or 1 percent of sales to charity (68 percent more likely)
  • Use low-emission vehicles for transportation (2 times more likely)
  • Help their industry create social and environmental standards (33 percent more likely)

These stats are just a sample; look for the full list on the B Corp website soon. In short, B Corps are imprinting social responsibility, environmental stewardship and human-centered business practices into our companies’ DNA. Sustainability is not a department.

2. B Corps are committed, creative and collaborative. Some 250 B Corp leaders gathered in Boulder to talk about where we are, where we’re going and how we can get there. In one day’s sessions we had more spontaneous ideas than seemingly could be tackled in a year (or even two), but at the end there were hundreds of written commitments to tackle projects large and small, and implement everyday tactics to advance the movement. (See photos on our Facebook page.)

It’s hard to describe the retreat experience without sounding incredibly corny, but we came back inspired, wowed by our fellow B Corps and full of energy. It’s just true that we all want each other to succeed, there’s no ego on display and nobody takes a “what’s in it for me?” approach. That goes for the big names—Ben & Jerry’s, Dansko, King Arthur Flour, Method, Seventh Generation, Plum Organics, Etsy, et al.—as well as the midsize and small businesses you’ve never heard of, or are famous in their own backyards.

No matter what our size or stature, we are all pulling for one another—and giving our commitment to “B the Change” far more than lip service.

3. The movement is growing. There are now 830 B Corps in 27 countries.  There’s an active organization in South America (Sistema B) and a growing community in Australia and New Zealand; there are more than 70 Certified B Corporations in Canada, and there’s a new B Corp in Vietnam. What’s stopping your company?

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