The Green Tau: issue 18

Changing the Face of Business 

B Corps – Benefit Corporations – are the fair trade equivalent for businesses. Whilst remaining profit making concerns these are businesses that also undertake to meet certain in social and environmental standards. Their bottom line is threefold: profit, people and planet. 

To attain B Corp status companies are assessed against five categories:

  • Governance – the way their business is run internally
  • Workers – how they are treated and paid
  • Social sustainability – how they support or contribute to society, including charitable donations
  • Environmental – how they contribute to environmental sustainability 
  • Product – the social and environmental benefit of what they produce

Provided they meet the minimum standard, they are awarded B Corp certification. This is reviewed on a three yearly basis.

The benefit for the business is an enhanced brand image, and improved ability to recruit staff  and investors. The downside is the cost of obtaining certification which might exclude some small but ethical businesses.

There are 2778 B Corps world wide and 193 based in the UK. They include OddBox and Riverford veg boxes, Innocent and Danone drinks etc, Triodos and Coutts banks, Judes icecream, Lilly’s pet food, Volcano coffee roasters, Camden Town brewers, Vibro Barefoot shoes, and various media, marketing, and management companies. A full listing can be found here: 

Social enterprises also aim to make a profit, which they then use to create positive social change through providing training and employment opportunities, supporting businesses in marginal areas, helping end homelessness, making donations to support communities in need etc. Increasingly social enterprises are focusing on environmental outcomes too. They tend to be small concerns, including repair workshops, bakeries, cafes, arts venues, grocery stores, gardening units, local energy generation, recycling units etc. Social Enterprise UK lists how you support these enterprises through what you buy:

The money in our pockets, like (or perhaps better than) our vote in an election, can change the world we live in.

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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