Intrigued by the recent controversy around the B Corp certification of Nespresso, we dove into Bcorp certification again and thought about how the activist movement can stay activist. We looked at what’s already there in terms of assessments and improvement processes. It’s safe to say that we are big fans of BCorp and have created a concept for new courses and workshops, focussing specifically on supporting B Corp employees go for continuous improvement in the three years before re-certification.
How we got here:
B Lab posted an article recently detailing how they design their standards for systems change. This was partly in response to the backlash from the global business for good and labour rights organisations. These organisations have been closely following the B Corp journey of turning businesses into benefit corporations and are both supportive and skeptical of the process that helps businesses focus on stakeholder over shareholder value.
The critics mainly wondered how a company like Nestlé, mother company of Nespresso that has a bad rep for human and workers’ rights violations, could possibly be eligible for their certification, And they were generally skeptical about the sustainability of a disposable product like coffee pods.
B Lab explained their stance in the article like this:
“The B Corp movement is built on the principle of continuous improvement. To remain in the community, B Corps must recertify every three years — and meet the requirements of a continuously evolving B Impact Assessment. To stay above the 80-point minimum score, companies are driven to do more to improve their practices.”
Change from within
Our interest at the Undercover Activist is on how employees can constructively transform their companies from within. And while we applaud the B Corp assessment as a starting point for change, or even as a ‘trojan horse’ internalizing standards in all areas of the business, we don’t think it is so clear how companies are driven to do more.
That’s why we are now offering courses and workshops to provide employees with the confidence and the tools to use the three year cycle of re-certification as a way to step up and materialise impact.
Our focus is young professionals who are attracted by the prospect of working for companies that focus on impact and are against greenwashing. They see B Corp certification as a mandate for change and want to use those years between certification to take ownership, use activist strategies and accelerate change.
We are talking with other corporate activists in this field and have already connected with move to impact to combine our strategies and work with practical tools. You can now use your own B Impact Assessment to drive your improvement report and keep track of your company and team’s progress.
"An Improvement Report is a customized report that indicates how much each question is worth and where you are currently earning points, thus allowing you determine which improvement you may like to undertake"
So, if you’re interested, go to the webshop or contact us. We also host a range of other online courses offering Positive Workplace Activism. An ongoing self-paced, self-study course and a guided version with online sessions and class interaction. Check out the dates in the webshop.
To end, we want to reiterate that speaking up is not enough. We need collective intelligence and collective action. So, step up and contribute your thoughts here: where B Corp is actively inviting people to contribute to improvement of the standard. Hopefully enough people and diverse points of view will make it here.
And check out some initiatives on this front of BCorps coming together for collective action on important issues like income disparity, dismantling white supremacy, making industry standards sustainable and equitable and gender equality.
Author: Tessa Wernink. Business Activist.
Co-founder, trainer and coach at the Undercover Activist. Podcast host What If We Get It Right? Co-founder Fairphone.