U Ethical in the top 10 per cent of B Corporations globally
We were recently acknowledged as a ‘Best for the World’ honoree by B Lab, the global organisation that certifies B Corporations.
By Ciaran McCormack
We were recently acknowledged as a ‘Best for the World’ honoree by B Lab, the global organisation that certifies B Corporations. B Lab audited our services and operations last year and awarded us a score of 125.2. This puts us in the top 10 per cent of B Corporations worldwide, in both the ‘Community’ and ‘Overall’ categories.
Certified B Corps are companies dedicated to using business as a force for good. Today there are 3,000 certified B Corporations across 64 countries and 150 industries, unified by the common goal of redefining success in business.
Every year, B Lab recognises the top-performing B Corps creating the greatest impact through their businesses. Honorees are recognised for having the highest environmental, community, customer, worker and overall impact by earning a score in the top 10 per cent on the B Impact Assessment. They are proving that competing to not only be the best in the world—but best for
the world—is a winning strategy.
To certify as a B Corp, companies must achieve a minimum verified score of 80 points on the B Impact Assessment. The audit assesses how their day-to-day operations create positive impact for workers, the community and the environment. Additionally, companies can earn further points if their overall business model can be shown to create positive social and environmental impact as well, qualifying the company for specific Impact Business Model points.
We made the Best For The World list thanks, largely, to our annual community contributions, which in FY2019 amounted to $3.1m. This brought our tally to $60.5m since we began making contributions in 1995. The funds have been used to support programs ranging from a multicultural men’s shed to English classes for newly-arrived migrants and asylum seekers to funding a worker to support people with disabilities and their carers.
To B or not to B— redefining the 'purpose of a corporation'
There are signs that the corporate world is beginning to respond to mounting societal calls for the’ profit-maximisation at all costs’ model to be curtailed. In his annual open letter to executives in January, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink suggested that they should serve “not only shareholders, but also employees, customers, and communities.”
Then in August, the US-based Business Roundtable made waves when it announced it had reviewed its decades-old definition of a corporation from a Friedman-esque focus on shareholder primacy—to a commitment to all stakeholders including customers, employees, suppliers and communities.
The move garnered a lot of attention given the inclusion of household brands such as Apple, Coca-Cola and Amazon in the list of nearly 200 signatory companies. While the rewrite may have been well meant, it has no legal basis so still smacks of ‘virtue signalling’ PR for big brands.
Hypothetically, if a signatory company had to make a significant business decision that would benefit either shareholders or, say, its employees, the weight of history and legislation suggests shareholders would still win every time.
The B Corp movement responded with a full-page ad in the New York Times challenging the Business Roundtable companies to make good on their stated intent by becoming certified as B Corporations. The process of applying to become certified would require the Roundtable to make its redefined ‘purpose of a corporation’ legally binding.
This is because the cofounders of the B Corporation certification had already done the hard yards in getting most US jurisdictions to pass legislation enabling businesses to expand their purpose beyond maximising profits to explicitly include other stakeholders.
Only time will tell whether these machinations are merely cheap talk or signs of the start of a seismic shift in corporate culture. Meanwhile, we will continue to apply our belief in ‘better investments for a better world’ to maintain our standing as one of the top B Corporations in the world.