We are looking forward to welcoming so many fantastic speakers to our Purpose + Impact Conference on 20 November at Ace Hotels, Sydney.
As we fast approach the big day, we asked Kira Day from B Lab Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand, the not-for-profit behind B Corp Certification, all the important questions about businesses becoming certified, why purpose matters, and advice for businesses looking to explore their for-purpose capabilities.
Q: Why should companies look to certify as a B Corp in 2023?
A: The world has changed a lot since B Corp Certification started in 2006, and so have the reasons that companies choose to become a B Corp. Back then, it was a movement of businesses trying to prove that purpose and profit could coexist, and in some cases, fuel each other. Those early movement builders proved this. Subsequently, we’ve seen more companies trying to take advantage of the capital advantages of sustainability; the rise of greenwashing in advertising is a great example.
Over the past few years in particular, we were met with a few intersecting crises: the pandemic, climate, and rapidly growing inequality. People increasingly looked to businesses – whether that be their employers, or brands to buy from; to play a role in solving these crises.
Businesses today are now at a crossroads: do they continue with the status quo that has led us here, or do they help to usher in a new era of our economic system?
A business certifying is by no means the answer to the crises we’re in, but it is a positive step towards creating more accountability and transparency for businesses: something we know leads to better outcomes for people and the planet. Certification is a way businesses hold themselves to account to an independent standard, while future-proofing themselves for increasing expectations and regulations. It helps companies start to think about where they are best positioned to generate impact, such as through their global supply chain or the people they employ, for example.
Q: What sort of message does being a B Corp business send to customers and stakeholders?
A: Put simply, it says that this company is voluntarily holding itself accountable to a higher standard of doing business.
Certification requires a significant investment, and to do so is to put your business’ impact forward to be measured and assessed; sometimes even alongside your competitors. It shows a commitment to continuous improvement, while sharing this journey publicly with the world. The message is that we aren’t perfect, but we’re trying to do things differently to create a better future.
Q: What will you be sharing with Purpose + Impact Conference attendees?
A: We have over 500 B Corps in Australia alone, and there are always so many stories to tell that showcase practical realities of running a business with purpose at the heart. My time working in community engagement at B Lab has given me an intimate understanding of how the B Corp movement has evolved over the years, and how these businesses have continuously shown leadership through transparency, humility, and vulnerability. I’ll be sharing some of these stories, and my ideas of what business leadership will look like in the next decade.
Q: What would be your advice to companies attempting to explore their for-purpose capabilities?
A: Start with defining your purpose – or your ‘why’ – if you haven’t already. If you feel overwhelmed, and don’t know where to begin, tools like the B Impact Assessment offer a step-by-step framework to measure and manage your impact across your business, even if certification isn’t the goal. At the very least, it will help you have conversations with your employees or stakeholders to understand where you can have the most impact. No matter how small, your business has a sphere of influence, which should be mapped out as one of the first steps.