Daniel is a social innovator, speaker and facilitator of change that helps people transform their organizations into meaningful, socially useful and also successful entities that contribute to creating a more prosperous, fair and sustainable civilization. That is just the goal of B Corp Companies. At Sustainable Brands Madrid 2018 he will speak about ‘Business as a force for good: The emergence of new organizational forms’.
-What is a B Corp for those who do not know this movement?
A Certified B Corp is one of what is now a movement of over 2500 leaders in their fields, companies spread in over 150 countries who have proved to meet the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests, and build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand.
None of these B Corps is perfect, in fact to be perfect they should go through the online B Impact Assessment and obtain the maximum B Corp score of 250 and no single company has achieved that. What is unique about this movement of companies is their sincere wish to harness the power of business to help address society’s greatest challenges and to build a more inclusive economy.
Their positive impact is shown through their emotional media campaigns but most importantly it is proven by having reached a minimum score of 80 points using the B Impact Assessment (BIA). This point system allows each company to both see just how much they are contributing to society but also to benchmark themselves with other companies in their sector in a virtuous competition to become the best companies for the world.
Like every good movement, this one also has a dream “that all companies will compete to be best for the world, and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity”
-How important are the purpose in the business strategy of the B Corp?
Just to give you an idea of just how embedded purpose is in the “business strategy” of the company Danone has agreed a deal with its investors that it will only receive investment if all 30 of its subsidiaries become B Corps. They are actively improving in every one of their areas and subsidiaries what it takes to earn the B Corp Certification. Veritas a chain of bio supermarkets has decided to use the BIA as their key driver for their business model.
Think of how B Corps such as Fairphone has come up with modular sustainably-sourced smartphones or how Triodos Bank is rethinking the financial sector and the role of banking both in their focus of investing exclusively in sustainable companies but also creatively linking mortgage rates to the green certification of a house or innovating biodegradable credit cards.
-One of its slogans is B Corp, the best companies for the world. How does a company become the best for the world and the community?
Well the first question is how on earth can you state whether you are or not one of the best for the world? That is exactly the question three very successful entrepreneurs asked themselves both when they wanted to show the value of the values-driven company they were selling and when they decided to then invest in good positive companies their new net worth.
So back in 2007 they brought together some of the best thinkers, enterprises, certification experts to create the B Impact Assessment, a strict and rigorous way to measure the impact of each company in five key areas: their governance, workers, community, the planet and their customers and that is how the B Impact Assessment (BIA) and the B Corp certification was born.
-At Sustainable Brands Madrid 2018 you will speak about “Business as a Force for Good: The Emergence of New Organizational Forms”. How can a business become a good force?
I am a great believer that the how can easily be found when the motivation, the why is compelling enough. What I see in the B Corp community is a level of energy, creativity, positive innovation that makes them some of the most successful companies in their sectors. They have the most motivated people and attract the best talent because of their why, because of their compelling reason for existing.
The other day a company shared with me how as soon as they declared they certified as a B Corp they were surprised to receive a wave of CVs in their inboxes. People love working for B Corps.
Many companies have amazing strategies that aim to be adaptive enough to cope with the uncertainty of the future and the certain global challenges of the present but the vast majority of them does not have an engaged workforce or the kind of trust-based relationships with their stakeholders that will actually allow those strategies to be implemented. B Corps direct address that why that allows their teams to find the best models for today and for tomorrow.
How does the theme of the event “brands serving humanity” connect with B Corps?
Well I’d like to start with how these kinds of companies see both their workers and their customers, as human beings. It is a fundamental shift from the traditional business model that sees its staff as production units and its customers as purchasing potential. Human beings are harder to handle and manage but, contrary to “production units” they can also give much more, their ability to learn, to expand, to provide new fresh points of view, when empowered to use their full selves and aligned with a purpose they are passionate about they can make great things happen.
Customers, with the dramatic fall in customer loyalty we are witnessing, we are also seeing how human beings who get passionate about your company then become your best promoters and sales force. The marketing return on investment of B Corps is dramatically lower than other mainstream companies who fail to attract the emotion, the trust and the passionate loyalty of their customers, great human beings.
-Patagonia, Natura, Ben & Jerry’s are some of the over 2.500 B Corps in the world. What does it mean to have these companies as ambassadors of B Corp?
People and companies love to be part of a movement that includes some of the most iconic companies in the world, companies coherently living their ambitious values-driven business model. So on the one hand you have these amazingly inspiring companies, who because of what they do and how they do it, are very often in the news. On the other hand you have a rigorous and credible measurement system that assesses whether you are contributing or not to the world with your business model and allows you to even benchmark yourself with the over 70,000 companies that have used this assessment tool and tried to become a B Corp.
Becoming a certified B Corp is definitely an aspirational process, not at all easy to achieve and all the more valuable when that proof of goodness is achieved.
What is also exciting is to see how this movement is now impacting larger even multinational companies, how important it is to them to learn from these best in their class to adapt their purposes and their way of operating to merit being part of the movement, and if any company has certified as a B Corp you can be sure that they are doing something great. For example Danone is so commited to becoming a more positive force through their business that they agreed with their investors to link their next round of funding to having all of their subsidiaries around the world deserving and obtaining B Corp certification.
-In the era of transparency, what role does a company have to play in order to be sustainable and profitable?
The transparent way in which B Corps communicate with all their stakeholders is one of the key elements measured in the B Impact Assessment however there is a more fundamental concept; Carlota PI, CEO of the B Corp Hola Luz made a great comment at a recent keynote “it is unthinkable to me how a company nowadays cannot be anything but values-based as this directly impacts positively all aspects of the company including the bottom line” so to her and to many B Corps it is not so much about the need for transparency, rather striving to be great companies, looking after their workers and stakeholders and creating useful and sustainable producst and services that contribute to the world.
-Why should someone with a changemaker vocation attend Sustainable Brands Madrid 2018?
I see it every time that I create or am part of events that bring together some of the most inspirational like-minded people who want to make great things happen, the courage, the clarity the new ideas the contagious positive energy that events like Sustainable Brands Madrid bring about is such a powerful ignitor of meaningful innovation at a personal human level and at an organizational level that I cannot see how you could miss this kind of opportunity.