4 Ways To Ensure B-Corp Success
Human beings used to live in communities where they could see directly how their actions impacted nature and society. However, life is different now, and we often don’t see or aren’t made aware of the impact of our actions on others and the environment.
Western businesses promote the idea that the individual is more important than the planet and community – an idea that has now spread globally and has caused critical damage to our planet. Too often companies have an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality, where their waste is someone else’s issue. They also view people in their businesses as human resources, rather than people, with the single aim of advancing profit at the cost of everything else.
B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards for social and environmental performance. They are companies that aim to make the world a better place. If you’re looking to set up a B Corp that is better for both people and the planet, there are some things to remember.
1. Your business needs a purpose
For B Corp success, C Suite execs will need to make sure that their people are aware of the company’s purpose and come to work with this in mind. Not only will this create a happier workplace, but it will also mean a more productive one that generates more profits. Millennials and Gen Z increasingly seek out companies that make sustainability a priority and improve the world. These age groups already make up more than 50% of the workforce – and so businesses need to make it clear that they aren’t a company that holds profit as their only purpose.
2. Staff purpose
Individual people also need a strong purpose – not just the business. In Okinawa, a Japanese island that has the highest life expectancy on earth, they say that fulfilment comes from a balance in four key areas of your life – loving what you do, being good at it, being paid for it and doing something that the world needs. This last point is one that the West often misses, but it’s so important for our personal wellbeing and happiness. If more companies enabled their people to make this a priority the world would be a better place.
3. Assess your priorities
When a B Corp puts people and the planet first, profits will follow. Employees who are behind this will be happier at work, more productive, and will then bring in greater profits. No one has ever found it very motivating to work in an unequal company where the CEO is paid 300 times more than his or her employees. This is all too common in the UK’s top companies, and this level of inequity only causes discontent.
If workers can see that making the world a better place is a priority for their business, they are more likely to enjoy their work, rather than see it as a chore, and they can enjoy working for a company that has a higher purpose.
Too many Western businesses encourage staff to have a ‘work face’ and force them into a hierarchy where fun is frowned upon and creativity is discouraged. We’ve favoured the ‘masculine’ side of leadership where managers seem distant and show no vulnerability, but creating an atmosphere where people talk about their feelings and show their inner side is a much healthier one.
4. Sustainability focus
When our company became a B Corp, we made sure that sustainability was at the heart of what we do. We make sure that our business doesn’t just exist for our shareholders, but for the community, the planet and our workers as well. We find that our position on environmental issues drives a lot of business for us – and our yearly Impact Report has become one of our best sales tools. Increasingly, customers and suppliers want to work with businesses that are making a positive impact.
People can easily tell when a CEO is trying to jump on the sustainability trend and use the planet to drive profit. But when genuinely compassionate leaders want to make a difference the business attracts more customers, more profits, and also helps to fight the climate crisis. Better business is not only better for the planet and people – but for profits too.
About the author: Paul Hargreaves is a speaker, a B-Corp Ambassador, and author of The Fourth Bottom Line: Flourishing in the new era of compassionate leadership