Last week we joined fellow B Corporations from all over the UK in West Lexham, Norfolk, to connect, challenge and celebrate what it means to reinvent business. Being part of the B Corporation community is a chance to find the tipping point, where ‘business as a force for good’ becomes ‘business as usual’.
Being a B Corporation is a sense of pride for us, not just because of what it means in terms of positive impacts on the world, but because of what it brings to us as an organisation, whether it’s about becoming a better business, differentiating ourselves from the competition, attracting top talent, or motivating employees. The certification process – which included amending our articles of association and inviting outside scrutiny – allowed us to join a calibre of businesses that includes Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and Cook. But we can’t, and shouldn’t, stop there. It’s not a vanity exercise. We have to build relationships, learn best practice and commit to actions that together will create change.
So, around the campfire, after group yoga, and in a whole host of different workshops, our view of the world was challenged and we walked away with an overwhelming feeling of impatience. An eagerness to do more, better, faster. Here are our three takeaways when it comes to reinventing business:
- We’ve reached an ‘inflection point’ for society, culture and our planet
There is no better time to redefine what success means for business. Where to start? The truth is, anything is possible when you consider that the conception of a company is an act of pure human imagination. In Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari refers to lawyers as wizards, thanks to their powers to conjure up companies merely through incorporations and articles. We need to apply this wizardry to the concept of business – typically organising capital to make money – and think about creating value for all, not just shareholders. The more we challenge the concept of business, the more likely we are to see the change. Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, puts it best: “Be unrealistic. I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen not what actually does.”
- From ‘Be More Beyonce’ to ‘Be More Patagonia’
B Corporation is a global movement – there are 2,100 certified companies from 50 countries and over 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business. And there are plenty of other organisations out there with similar goals and objectives. We are part of a much bigger movement for change and it’s important to recognise and hero those that are embracing the activist mindset – like Patagonia, who recently took the US federal government to task on stealing public land. It’s important to recognise the movement in all its guises and create truly disruptive communications that have the power to change the world.
- Don’t just drink the sustainability Kool Aid
As an already accredited B Corporation, are we overly passionate about the subject? Yes. Is that a bad thing? No – providing we focus on hearing the counter argument and actually listening. To do so involves recognising and escaping our own ‘filter bubbles’. Technology is brilliant at recommending things we’ll like and enjoy – be that content or products – but this can be dangerous, with algorithms designed to serve you things you’ll like and that make you feel good. It’s crucial to maintain a balanced diet when it comes to information consumption – that means a rich variety of sources that explore multiple viewpoints. Rahaf Harfoush, a strategist and best-selling author, recently argued that “personalised content is making objectivity redundant”. We have to understand the barriers to action in order to overcome them.
What it all comes down to? As one speaker at the retreat so eloquently put it, “if you want to change the world, you have to throw a better party than those destroying it”. The invite is out there – come and join us here.