sustainable business

B Corps lead by example during the COVID-19 crisis

Anya Khalamayzer | April 23, 2020

Photo by Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

Companies that put people before profit will earn customer trust as we walk the rocky road to recovery from the current pandemic. B Corps, with their focus on delivering community and environmental benefits, are well positioned to step up to our collective challenges with efforts that point the way to a more just economic system.

According to B Lab co-founder Andrew Kassoy, B Corps were 63 percent more likely than other businesses to survive the last financial crisis because their strong relationships with employees, customers and supply chains makes them more resilient. Today, B Corps are leading by example and extending themselves to help their communities, employees and customers.

Some B Corps are thinking big picture while facing their own COVID-19 challenges:

  • Petition platform Change.org, itself a B Corp, is hosting a movement for change led by the new B Corp Financial Resiliency Task Force. These leaders and their more than 740 supporters are calling for policies that will change how capital is deployed to small businesses through the CARES Act. Among their asks: increase the size and scope of PPP loans, expand the period of loan forgiveness and prioritize the underserved.
  • Harlem-born SheaMoisture, owned by Sundial Brands, a B Corp skincare and haircare manufacturer, launched the $1 million Community Commerce fund for coronavirus relief. All minority small-business owners and entrepreneurs of color who are able to convene online or distribute goods via e-commerce can apply. To start, 10 businesses from the applicant pool will receive $10,000 each. An extension of an existing initiative that supports women-of-color entrepreneurs, the new fund includes cash grants and e-learning support.

Other B Corps have pivoted their production to serve safety needs:

  • Dr. Bronner’s is looking out for worker safety as well as adapting to increased demand for hygiene products. It boosted production and fulfillment of hand sanitizer, which it packages in recycled plastic, while implementing new work and break schedules for warehouse, shipping and production employees that keep them at a safe distance from each other. The company is also donating 2% of the sanitizer it produces to organizations that serve unhoused and low-income people in major cities.
  • Clothing designer Eileen Fisher turned its Irvington, N.Y. corporate office into a facility to make personal protection equipment (PPE). The company partnered with New York Assemblymember Amy Paul and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who represents New York’s Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens boroughs, to create gowns and masks for healthcare workers caring for those with coronavirus.
  • Waste-free PPE? Yes, please. Looptworks, which upcycles fabric into eco-friendly goods, is making protective gear for frontline medical workers and essential business workers.
  • Instead of making logoed goods, Harper and Scott studio is now taking requests from companies in need of sanitizer, soap, masks and other wellness products.

Several B Corps are helping kids and families in need:

  • As kids continue to stay home from school, ReVision Energy rolled out free weekly online webinars with lessons on renewable energy and sustainability. Not only will kids (and parents) get a diversion, they’ll learn to build a clean, green future.
  • New B Corp Doing Good Works is donating profits from its print shop to young adults in foster care who are struggling with housing, food, and medical expenses as a result of COVID-19.
  • Stay-in-place orders have caused a surge in domestic violence, so the Body Shop is donating 30,000 units of soaps to local shelters, including Hope Alliance, a women’s shelter in Austin, Texas.

That’s just a taste of what B Corps are doing. The crisis response from the community is varied, but the common thread is that these companies are using whatever capacity they have to make an impact quickly—and that can be an inspiration for all of us.

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