DR. ARLO BRADY CEO of freuds and Chairman of the Blue Marine Foundation
OUR CHAIRMAN, MATTHEW FREUD, RECENTLY USED THE ANALOGY THAT FOR YEARS THE SUSTAINABILITY MOVEMENT HAS BEEN TRYING TO TURN AROUND A SUPER TANKER.
Ultimately, turning a 1,200 foot long tanker is a cumbersome action that can take many miles to execute. Momentum is a powerful force. However, if you take that away, things become much easier. If the tanker is at a standstill, the captain can execute a manoeuvre with more precision and a tighter turning circle.
The beauty of our present situation is that, everything has been stopped. So, with the engines of the world’s economy returning from an idle, we have the option to reorientate ourselves as economies – and as businesses and communities – in order to begin heading in a new direction.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we must grasp with open arms.
As the world’s economy moves back into gear many will be looking for guidance on how they can execute an ‘about turn’. They will be looking for signposts and guidance.
For many, faced with the array of challenges and difficulties ahead, a brief Google search could well land them in the B Corp space.
Simply put, it provides that collective wisdom you get by being part of a group.
At freuds, we had already spent a lot of time thinking about how to change our business for the better.
As an organisation we have always had a commitment to a range of sustainability issues, but our ‘Eureka’ moment came in 2015, when we helped to launch the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
We could see, set out in a clear way, the challenge and the diversity of issues the world faced, and we realised that the communications and marketing world had a central role to play in tackling many of them, a realisation that we felt empowered by.
But as a business, working on sustainability can often be isolating, and at times you’re never quite sure, because of the complexity of the issues involved, whether you’re having a positive impact.
So, in early 2020, we decided to participate and learn from others who had been on the journey before us, getting an external perspective on our performance and a perspective on where we could improve and make changes. That was the primary driver for us.
We had already come across a number of B Corps, both as clients and businesses we interact with, and all of them seemed super impressive, so it was a community we felt we wanted to be part of.
It felt like a group of people who wanted to be on the right side of history; a group we felt we could learn from and hopefully impart some lessons ourselves.
There was also another very persuasive argument. In an environment where many businesses must compete to recruit and retain top talent, young people want to work with businesses that are focused on doing good. This was a straightforward way of signposting it for them. A method of saying: “You’re not only able to have a career, but you can also have an impact on the issues you care about.” A way of showing that we are part of a larger movement.
The B Corp world offered the complete spectrum of fellow travellers, from startup bands to companies like Danone. It also ranged across the geographical spectrum from Europe and America, to huge contingents in South America and in Asia. It has the kind of international diversity that you don’t necessarily find in other networks.
We also wanted to engage with this beguiling movement, to publicise the tremendous work B Corps were doing so that others can engage with them and move forward in a positive way.
The ultimate goal, we knew, must be systemic change. But, we also saw an immediate opportunity for it to have a wider influence on the business community, to find a way that others could see the great examples of the work businesses are doing, and to decide what they want to participate in.
THE B CORP BELIEFS
That we must be the change we seek in the world;
That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered;
That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all;
To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.