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Corporate Responsibility: The Benefits of Being A B Corp
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Corporate Responsibility: The Benefits of Being A B Corp - Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Responsibility: The Benefits of Being A B Corp

Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Responsibility: The Benefits of Being A B Corp

We’ve spoken many times about the fact that corporate social responsibility is not charity—that it’s a different concept of profit, one that strives not only for monetary gain, but for the benefit of the planet and the betterment of people, an objective that draws better people to your organization, from within and from without, as contributors or customers. As consumers increasingly look to spend their money on products or services whose providers line up with their personal values, it’s definitely worth any company’s effort to consider its CSR strategy, but how important is it specifically to earn recognition from third-party certifiers, such as B Lab?

Certification can be difficult to attain. It may be a long, rigorous process costing time, money, and energy, especially if major systemic changes are in order. Investors, unfamiliar with the concept of B Corp certification, can get nervous about spending money on what sounds like nonprofit thinking, as pointed out by Mick Bain for TechCrunch last October, and even investors who understand the concept may have difficulty accepting goals which seems intentionally to result in lower financial returns.

A larger, less-discussed ideological concept may also cause some companies to hesitate. While many have said they’d prefer not to think of CSR as a marketing strategy, this attitude is peripherally related sometimes to a deeper thinking. Companies already involved in community-minded work often don’t want to trumpet their contributions because they make them strictly because of concern for others. This right-hand-not-knowing-what-the-left-hand-is-doing approach to charity runs deep in many of us; it’s why so many donations are made anonymously. The accounting firm that sponsors community sports leagues often insists on keeping its name off materials, worrying that publicity will lead to tainted motivations. To a corporation who’s carried on this way for decades, the sudden intrusion of a third party and the prominent display of a certification on websites and marketing materials run contrary to their purposes.

These are all valid concerns, and they mustn’t be overridden casually, but it seems each day there is new testimony proclaiming the benefits of being a certified B Corp. Giancarlo Bianchetti, CEO of Fetzer Vineyards, says in an HBR.org article that not only has B Lab certification confirmed for customers its commitment to sustainable, organic farming and quality products, but it provides a contrast to other winemakers whose practices are more talk than delivery, creating a more credible and appealing niche in the market. Bianchetti adds that certification also forms communities of like-minded producers, opening conversations among competitors for better, more sustainable practices for the future of the industry.

This community aspect is strong argument for even the determinedly anonymous. While there is much to be said for the virtues of not tooting one’s own horn, when a company identifies itself as part of a community of dedicated contributors, it encourages others to do the same, not necessarily in a bandwagon fashion, but in showing to the world that there are other ways of measuring profit, and that the world is opening itself up to a new way of thinking.

Reference Links
TechCrunch: https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/02/should-your-startup-take-the-b-corp-route
Fetzer Vineyards: https://hbr.org/2016/12/it-pays-to-become-a-b-corporation

 

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Corporate Responsibility: The Benefits of Being A B Corp - Executive Leadership Articles

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