Can businesses help solve the biggest societal and environmental challenges we’ve ever faced? Especially since business has played a huge part in creating these challenges. We believe that business is the only sector that has the ingenuity, drive, creativity and innovation to bring about the changes we need, at the speed we need them.
At Sustainable Network one of our main priorities when talking to businesses, is to discuss their sustainability journey and how they can incorporate the triple bottom line of People, Planet, Profit into their business model. One of our criteria for raising seed or growth funds for a company is that they are committed to embracing and maintaining high standards of sustainability, by working with us to obtain independent sustainability certifications. For us, this shows that a company is walking the sustainable talk and is truly committed to being a force for good in the world. One such accreditation is B Corp.
From the Greener Matters perspective, we believe that by choosing to be a B Corp, you are declaring you will no longer profit from the suffering of others, be they the Bangladeshi women working in clothing factories; the cows crammed into the massive and inhumane factory farms of America, or the indigenous peoples whose drinking water has been polluted by the waste from huge mining corporations.
Being a B Corp business means no longer profiting from exploitation, extraction and emissions. Do not underestimate how challenging this will be to achieve. We have created a world that makes it difficult not to pollute and degrade with even our smallest daily activities. From cooking on a gas range, to taking the kids to school in our petrol-fuelled car, and buildings heated with gas boilers, we have woven fossil fuel combustion into every aspect of our lives. In ancient Chinese culture, there was a special form of torture called ‘Death by 1000 cuts’. This is essentially what we’re doing to the planet and to ourselves.
If you’re thinking about going down the B Corp road (and we hope you are), let us emphasise that this is no small decision. B Corp will challenge you to evidence the impact you are making by using business as a force for good. This is not a vanity exercise for marketing purposes, nor just a nice badge of honour that will attract new customers. B Corp will hold up a mirror and ask whether or not you can say, hand on heart, that you’re doing authentic and measurable things to improve the lives of people and the planet.
Getting back to the original question: Is the business sector really the key to addressing the world’s biggest problems? Can business reverse global warming, address biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, air pollution, social injustice, human rights violations, and more?
At Sustainable Network, we believe the answer is 100 percent YES. It’s already begun. The investment world is navigating a monumental shift. Investors no longer want exposure to any business or industry that is part of the problem. The world’s resources are increasingly being funnelled into sustainable work and innovation such as climate tech and renewables. The solutions are coming thick and fast. Pace is accelerating as the trickle of investment in ESG funds 20 or so years ago is now a flood.
There is every reason to be hopeful but let’s not pretend there isn’t a tough road ahead. This is not the time to gloss over the reality of the climate hole we’ve dug ourselves into, nor can we shy away from the difficult and honest conversations. This is why we are such supporters of the B Corp community. For those SMEs who just don’t know how to get their business on a sustainable footing, B Corp certification offers a roadmap and a solid base to build upon.
By taking the B Corp road, you are saying, ‘Yes, I believe businesses can be run differently. I believe businesses can be modelled on restoration rather than degradation. I believe we can create a socially just society and a healthy planet.’
Choosing the B Corp certification road for your business is a big decision. It’s the start of a journey that will hopefully never end as your organisation improves, year on year, in being a force for good restoring the health of our planet and working to drive social equality all over the globe.
And it’s okay that we are still working out how we’re going to do this. It’s okay that we don’t have all the answers yet – we’ll find the answers if we keep asking the tough questions. And that is what your B Corp journey is about… it’s about tackling those difficult questions specific to your organisation; it’s about discussing and debating and learning, evolving and transforming.
The key is to embrace the process of this metamorphosis. Stick with it when the road gets bumpy and celebrate your breakthroughs, big and small.
If you let it, we believe the B Corp journey will be more rewarding, enriching and fulfilling than any satisfaction previously garnered through reporting annual profits to shareholders.
Do you need funding to start or grow your business? Sustainable Network is a global funding and innovation platform. We act as a bridge between conscious investors and sustainable companies that operate on a triple-bottom line model of people, planet, and profit. Get in touch through our website.