With all the woes of the world these days, it is always refreshing to hear stories of triumph and the pursuit of good. These stories keep me going and are why I am so excited to share this issue with you. There has been a lot of buzz around the B Corp certification, with larger and larger companies joining “the movement.” So, we decided to take a closer look at what it takes to become certified, why it’s significant, and the befits of the B sticker.
The B Corp Certification is in pursuit of good and consistent improvement. The ethos of the certification is to do good through business. This is achieved by orienting your business to the triple bottom line, an idea that business writer John Elkington first coined in 1994. The triple bottom line is illustrated by incorporating the three P’s (People, Planet, and Prosperity) into your business equally.
The normative economic theory of business in the US is the Friedman Doctrine, which holds that a company’s social responsibility is to increase its profits. Shareholder returns, above all, are the primary goal of business owners and executives. Milton Friedman was a brilliant person born in 1912 and won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. That aside, he was born over a hundred years ago, just after the Gilded Age of US wealth on the heels of the 2nd Industrial Revolution. The grand experiment that was American Capitalism was still very young.
The Friedman Doctrine began to receive criticism after the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 as it exposed the long-term effects of such disregard for societal and environmental wellbeing. As a result, a call was made to reassess a business’s ethical responsibility to the rest of the stakeholders and community. B Lab, the third-party not-for-profit that certifies B Corps, was founded in 2006, with its first 82 certified businesses in 2007.
The process of certification is rigorous and extremely detailed. The first step is for a company to self-evaluate its impact using a questionnaire provided by B Lab. This evaluation provides an idea of what your company is currently doing and what it could be doing while applying a numeric score. Most businesses only score about a fifty on a two-hundred-point scale. The minimum score to qualify is 80 points or above. The rest of the journey is unique to every company and where they make the most or least impact positively. The five pillars focused on: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. Each step of the value chain is considered in every industry.
In this issue, we hear stories from the first pioneers of B Corp in the coffee industry, including Sustainable Harvest, the first coffee company in the US to gain the certification. Equator Coffee and Reunion Coffee were also early adopters and continuous advocates for the systems. We also hear from newcomers to the certification like Counter Culture Coffee and how they were able to make the transition.
I do hope you enjoy these inspiring stories of companies doing the hard work to create a more sustainable way of thriving in our economy. Enjoy.