Thinkshift | November 4, 2015
The annual B Corp Champions Retreat always reinvigorates our enthusiasm for the movement to use business as a force for good. This year’s “building bridges” theme resonated on several levels: as a reflection of B Corps’ growing international presence, as a call to bring a more diverse array of companies into the fold, and as a spotlight on a huge opportunity on our home turf.
The movement goes global. As of the retreat (Oct. 13–15 in Portland, OR), there were 1,450 B Corps in 43 countries. (When Thinkshift was certified in 2010, the total was approaching 370 in two countries.) With a new B Corp organization in London, pockets of B Corps spreading across Europe, a rapidly growing South America contingent, a dedicated Australia and New Zealand community, and pioneers in Asia, there could be more B Corps outside the U.S. than inside by next year.
Could a conglomerate become a B Corp? B Lab, the nonprofit certifier of B Corps, hopes to inspire more companies of all kinds to “measure what matters” (that is, social and environmental impact, not just profit). That means “engaging with global corporations and capital movements … to see how huge companies can adopt our standards,” said B Lab co-founder Andrew Kassoy, adding that outreach has to be based on maintaining the integrity of B Corp standards. As Charmian Love of Volans, one of the first U.K. B Corps, put in her closing-session B Inspired talk, “We can scale the B Corp movement as long as we stand firm on our integrity.”
A Best for SF campaign needs to happen. The biggest buzz generator was the Best for NYC campaign, which targeted the opposite of end of the spectrum—traditional local businesses, like small manufacturers and mom-and-pop stores. Spearheaded by the New York City Economic Development Commission, the campaign aims to get businesses to compete to be Best for NYC by taking the quick version of the B Impact Assessment and using it as a baseline for improvement. We couldn’t believe New York beat us to this, and are fired up to work with our fellow San Francisco B Corps to launch a similar campaign here. Stay tuned!
For a look at some of what inspired us, check out the B Inspired sessions of short TED-like talks by B Corp leaders. Our faves: Rhys Powell of Red Rabbit and David Griswold of Sustainable Harvest.