What do high-quality, windbreakers with a high price tag, tasty ice creams with cheeky names, and soap packaged with gobs of attitude have in common?
Clearly, it’s not their ingredients. It's their values.
"If we want to have a shared, endurable prosperity, all business has to be competing not only to be best in the world, but best for the world," said B Lab's co-founder and upcoming BRITE '17 speaker, Andrew Kassoy in a discussion with Yale School of Management.
Private equity veteran Kassoy, along with co-Founders Bart Houlahan and Jay Coen Gilbert, founded the nonprofit organization in 2006 through work done as part of a fellowship project at the Aspen Institute. The aim for B Lab was to encourage entrepreneurs, business leaders, and consumers to use the power of business as a force for good.
"We reached a moment when this was all happening anyway" Kassoy told Fast Company in 2014. "We put a name on what was happening."
Today, more than 2,000 companies, including Patagonia, Ben and Jerry's, and Dr. Bronner's have earned what is considered the highest standard for social corporate responsibility: becoming a Certified B Corporation -- a certification obtained by scoring very well on a set of impact standards created by a B Lab advisory council of independent experts in business and academia. Evaluated according to their efforts on key impact areas -- workers, suppliers, community, the environment, and governance -- Certified B Corps are in more than 50 countries across 120 industries, and they're on the rise.
A decade after B Lab was founded, the question of whether companies can both make money and do good in the world doesn't seem very radical anymore. "Business by itself will not solve all of our societal and environmental problems….but if we can't use it as a tool to solve problems, then it's going to create them," Kassoy told Yale.
Spurred by growing business and entrepreneurial interest, B Lab has expanded its efforts to help businesses, investors, and institutions "measure what matters." B Lab provides an open opportunity for companies to use its B Impact Assessment tool and B Analytics to assess their impact -- and the impact of the businesses with whom they work -- with as much rigor as they measure their profits. To help push constant incremental change, B Lab works to inspire others to join the B Corp movement through its new B the Change Media company.
"In the end, this is all about behavior," said Kassoy.
Indeed. 'Purpose' is quickly becoming a core element of many brands' value proposition as idealistic -- and discerning -- consumers consider the impact of their purchases. B Labs not only is helping drive this movement that imagines a world wherein all businesses contribute to the world's betterment; it's holding companies accountable.
And it's not a moment too soon.