B Corps: Why Now is the Time to Certify
“If you open up the mind, the opportunity to address both profits and social conditions are limitless. It’s a process of innovation.”Jerry Greenfield, Co-Founder, Ben & Jerry’s
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 24 months, you’ve surely noticed a rising tide of a society demanding more from everyone; from the companies they buy from to the companies they work for (Great Resignation, anyone?), from politicians to celebrities, from once trusted institutions to the once shiny tech startups. Racial justice, climate justice, economic equality, LGBTQ+ rights & representation, a society that works for the marginalized and oppressed, a level playing field for everyone playing the game.
And if you’re a business owner thinking this seismic shift is a fad or something that a good marketing or branding campaign can fix, you’re missing the point and can probably close this tab on your browser now. But if you get it, and you want to be a part of the solution, but are maybe struggling with what to do next, please allow me to make a suggestion.
There has never been a better time to certify your business as a B Corp.
When history looks back on the 21st century, the progress will be undeniable–and believe me, it is undeniably going to happen. Why? Because Gen Z & Millennials are here in full force. In 2022, the oldest Gen Z will be turning 27, the oldest millennial 41, and much like the fed-up news anchor at the end of the 1977 movie Network, they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.
And what they’re driving is a shift in what capitalism looks like. As defined by Merriam Webster:
Capitalism (noun): an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.
We remember from high school economics what drives the free market: supply and demand. And these two demographic groups, millennials and Gen Z, are playing two powerful hands as the “free market” redefines capitalism in the 20th century.
- They are choosing where they want to work based on things like purpose, company mission, and work-life balance (supply of talent).
- They spend their money with companies that align with the values mentioned in the beginning of this article (demand for goods and services).
- They will roll their eyes, laugh at, and call out your pathetic attempt at putting lipstick on a pig. The best branding and PR firms can no longer save you from outdated best practices. Greenwashing puts your company at risk.
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not fighting the old, but on building the new.”Socrates
To connect the dots, the workforce of the future is not only here, they’re probably closing in on making up the majority of your workforce. If you’re in a high tech industry, that number is probably much higher (tech firms can be upwards of 80%). And according to a study by Wunderman Thompson, these two generational groups wield approximately $165b in purchasing power.
Nothing signals your commitment to their shared values like B Corp certification, the gold standard of corporate social responsibility. So whether you’re gung-ho on certifying or just wanting to start dipping your toes in the water, now is the time.
Nathan Stuck is the Founder and CEO of Profitable Purpose Consulting, which helps companies deepen their commitment to using business as a force for good using the B Impact Assessment to improve their impact. He also serves as the founder and chair of B Local Georgia and teaches an MBA course on B Corps at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.