B Lab Company

Redefining Business as Usual: A B(enefit) Economy for All

Take Action

Connect with us

To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Unravel climate and social crises around us and you arrive at a common thread: a broken system of business. Today’s global economy centers on “shareholder primacy” - norms and legal doctrines stating the purpose of business is to maximize profit for shareholders. For over a decade, B Lab has worked to transform the private sector into a regenerative and inclusive economy - a Benefit (B) Economy - where business is a force for good. Through unique impact management platforms, B Lab enables thousands of companies to improve their social and environmental impact. Building on evidence of this impact, B Lab will accelerate and scale the B Economy through a suite of interventions in two critically important market segments: small-to-medium companies in emerging markets and multinational corporations. Together, these segments represent millions of workers, communities, and environments in every corner of the world, and demonstrate two important levers for change toward achieving systems change.

Problem Statement

Right now, carbon dioxide levels are the highest they’ve been in 650,000 years, 80% of the world’s original forests are gone, 844 million people still lack access to basic drinking water, and by 2025 – just six years from now – half of Earth’s population will live in water-stressed regions. Meanwhile, 26 billionaires own as much wealth as 3.8 billion people, and nearly 25 million people are in forced labor - all causing social unrest to grow. Unravel these global social and environmental challenges and many more, and you arrive at a common thread: a broken system of business. The “source code error” of capitalism - shareholder primacy - has caused our global economy to operate in an unequal field. Shareholder primacy is the concept that the role of business is to generate profit and financial pay-out for shareholders. This approach of ‘business as usual’ isn’t working. Capitalism, simultaneously lauded for fostering an entrepreneurial spirit that drives forward entire economies, is also blamed for perpetuating this disparity and accelerating environmental destruction. Multinational corporations (MNCs), in particular, are popularly cited as causing much of the world’s inequality and resource overuse. However, with immense reach and influence across the entire business culture, MNCs also have the power to shift the system. Pulling a lever of change among these market leaders would have immediate and long-lasting ripple effects across the entire private sector - moving from shareholder primacy to stakeholder governance, a system rooted in benefitting not just investors, but employees, communities, and the environment.

Solution Overview

Our solution is to redefine the role of business in society by scaling the B Corp Movement to get more companies - from SMEs in emerging markets to multinational corporations - to become Certified B Corporations or behave like Certified B Corps by measuring and improving their performance, transparency, and accountability. To rapidly scale we need to ensure that we have the tools necessary to respond reactively and proactively to growing demand by MNCs and emerging market SMEs. This includes improved culturally adapted certification processes for companies based outside the U.S. and systems to meet the complexity of multinationals - all without sacrificing the rigor for which B Corp Certification is known. A third party Accredited Professionals program will help us meet these needs while we also equip leaders of the world’s multinational corporations to champion a new narrative of stakeholder governance. While changing the global economy and culture of business will take a generation, the next five years will be a critical leap forward. Success at the end of this project will mean that we have dramatically grown this movement of business as a force for good, with a cascade of direct and indirect benefits on workers, the environment, and society through improved business practices impacting employees, supply chains, and the communities in which they operate. We will measure that success by both the breadth of our movement - the number of companies that join across global regions - and the depth of engagement - the improvements those companies make.

+ Read More

More Solutions Like This

Business and industry

Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF)

Trust LEI Pass: Global identification scheme for business’ economic inclusion

China, Germany, India, Mexico, United States, Angola, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa

Business and industry

CUNY Law Foundation

One-Tribe Global Workplace: inclusive-broadened-deepened community wealth/power-building through stakeholders as shareholders

Colombia, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Bermuda, Guatemala, Puerto Rico