B Corps Take Over the World!

Last week, Gary and I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Annual B Corp Champions Retreat in Half Moon Bay, California. B Corp certification is a voluntary certification socially minded companies can use to report on and improve their impact on employees, their community and the environment. We became a B Corp in 2010. We went out to this year’s retreat, our second, with our friends from Nana Design, another MD socially responsible business who we recruited to join the B Corp movement this year.

The community of B Corps has grown in the last year (630 companies and counting) and the retreat was a much larger group than last year. It is incredible to spend a few days among such an inspiring group of businesses. We all share the belief in the power of the private sector to do good not only because we can but because it is our responsibility to our communities and the world. The retreat is not like another conference, where you sit in over-air-conditioned rooms and struggle to stay awake. In fact, we spent most of the retreat in a big tent outside with a nice ocean breeze talking, listening to stories, brainstorming, and doodling with scented markers. There was even an impromptu song at the end there…
This year’s retreat was focused on finding ways to spread the influence of the B Corp movement by creating ripples of action that eventually turn into waves. The theme this year was cathedral building. The metaphor is that a cathedral takes a long time to build and that lots of different people chip away at various small pieces of it. A single person may not get to see the completion of the cathedral in his or her lifetime but in the end everyone that contributes to the cathedral is responsible for the breathtaking end result. As B Corps, we are all part of building a cathedral, a movement of businesses that show that there is a way that business can create profit, but also do good for society.

Gary and Tanya from Clean Currents and Rebecca and Polina from Nana Design at the Retreat.

Jay, Bart and Andrew from B Lab with the Sistema B Team

Some highlights from this year’s Retreat:

  • At last year’s retreat, there was some talk about a B Corp movement in Latin America, called Sistema B. Since then Sistema B has grown into a full fledged movement, with a staff in 3 countries and a handful of certified “Empresas B”. Next step: B Corp for Europe!
  • B Corps are taking over the world! This year’s attendees included companies from South America, Mongolia, Australia, Kenya and a sizable contingency of Canadian do-gooders.
  • The story of method’s mission aligned exit.  The popular cleaning company is merging with Ecover and maintaining its status as B Corp.
  • Some pretty awesome big name companies joining the B Community in the last year including Patagonia, Etsy, 3 Degrees and a very well loved ice cream company (official announcement coming soon!)
  • Speaking of Etsy, we heard a great story about their employee hack day where hundreds of Etsy employees all over the world worked to find ways to improve their B Impact Assessment score and get to the threshold for certification.
  • The various plays on the B theme, examples:
    • B2B – B Corp doing business with a fellow B Corp
    • TedB – TedX style talk about B Corps
    • B the Change: What you can do to spread the B Corp Movement!
    • “Be a B” Flip from Business Culture Consultants’ impromptu version of “Let It Be” about becoming a B Corp.

Now we’re back in the office feeling recharged and looking forward to next year’s retreat. We’re planning on helping more companies join the B Corp movement and spending some time focusing on our own B Impact Assessment to find ways we can improve.