Climate Change. Inequality. Political dysfunction and divisiveness. These are some of the monumental challenges we face in the year ahead. One encouraging note is that businesses are increasing stepping up and embracing the role of business as a force for good. The most visible sign of this is the B Corp. movement.
Since its beginnings in 2007, more than 2,300 companies have become certified B Corps. And their ranks have grown to include some of the largest and best known brands. In 2017, DanoneWave, the $6 billion food giant formed by the merger of Danone’s North American dairy business and natural foods maker WhiteWave, become the largest Benefit Corp. in the U.S. Unilever, meanwhile, acquired its fifth B Corp., SunDial Brands (and its fourth such acquisition in 2017).
There were also growing pains. Most notably, Etsy, the quirky indie marketplace, relinquished its B Corp. status in 2017. A certified B Corp. since 2012, Etsy went public in 2015 and found it difficult to square its ideals with the expectations of its public shareholders. But overall, 2017 was a year of progress. Here’s a look back at the year in B Corps from B Lab:
Certified B Corporations are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 2,300 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and over 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
￼In 2017 alone, more than 2,500 new companies were inspired to start measuring their impact using the free tools available from B Lab. Collectively, more than $5.3 billion was invested in purpose-driven, impact-verified companies. And the series of “firsts” was an almost unrelenting, positive reminder that our unified goal is one we are continuing to move steadily toward, one that we can only reach together.
￼Amidst all of the strides we have made, 2017 has not been a year without serious challenges.
In February, the co-founders of B Lab made a universal call to all business leaders to stand for justice by taking action to build an inclusive economy. They reminded us that, “In the current environment of rising insecurity, fear, hate speech, and violence, and in the absence of trust in our economic system, all business leaders have an unprecedented responsibility and opportunity to build a more inclusive society.” They urged us to “live into our values and to build a global movement of people using business as a force for good.”
When we hear this call to action, we are humbled by the ways in which the our community is rising to it. Thank you for the work that you have done to shift the system of capitalism towards justice and inclusivity. Now is not a time to rest. How will you carry forward your values in 2018? Thank you for working with us to build a more shared and durable prosperity for all.