Companies driving the shift to a stakeholder economy that prioritizes environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations are often smaller, which means they are more agile than large corporations and can regulate their operations and products more quickly.
However, several larger firms are paying attention to the growing demands for social and environmental responsibility and considering how they might be better stewards of the earth and the people they serve. Changing one’s mindset to one of optimism, on the other hand, might be difficult for companies with hundreds of employees and complex facilities. However, if they can execute this move effectively, their magnitude results in outsized societal repercussions.
In 2020, B Lab launched the B Motion Builders program to help large, multinational, publicly-listed firms transition to B Corp Certification. “The B Motion Builder program provides a road for huge organizations to step-by-step implement more social and environmental programs into their businesses,” I wrote when the project was announced.
The four founding B Motion Builders, all of which are publicly listed companies, represent various disciplines and residential nations:
Bonduelle is a plant-based meal processing company established in France.
Gerdau, a steelmaker situated in Brazil.
Givaudan is a fragrance and flavor company established in Switzerland.
Magaluf is a Brazilian store.
The founding B Motion Builders will be mentored by Danone, a health-focused food and beverage company, and Natura & Co, a sweets company. All businesses with a revenue of at least $1 billion elect to incorporate B Corp motion ideals into company-level and group activities. And they’ll be joined by other firms in the following year when B Lab intends to welcome as many as 10 to 12 new companies as B Motion Builders.
The first essay in this collection focused on the corporate responsibility procedures these companies had adopted as a group. This essay goes into further detail on how these firms implementing greater social and environmental responsibility into their operations means getting people on board and persuading other major corporations to join the cause.
Christopher Marquis: Why would you urge various multibillion-dollar corporations to join B Motion Builders?
Bonduelle’s Group CSR Supervisor and B Corp World Chief, Anne-Sophie Gougeon: Because this isn’t a single trip, the more people there are, the better the movement and us. This action may also be used to emphasize the collective’s capability. We’re on our way to certification, but we haven’t yet licensed any entities. It’s tough to be in that motion while also certifying in the other direction. If I were to advise other companies on when to join, I’d tell them to wait until they’re very mature before jumping in since it’s rather demanding. It’s designed for leading transformation organizations.
Gerdau’s World Head of Social Accountability, Paulo Boneff: I think I spoke with maybe 10 to 12 businesses within the last year. Massive Brazilian enterprises, including multinationals with operations in the United States, are also present. One of my recommendations is to concentrate more on mission-driven companies and companies seeking long-term legacy. When you have these activities in your organization, it makes more sense to participate in this B Motion Builder or become a B Corp.
Before I agreed to take on the challenge of becoming a B Corp, we conducted a poll of 3,500 stakeholders from various countries to ensure that it was a good fit for our company, our societal benefits, and the legacy we wanted to leave. Most of them, more than 80%, are willing to help us out. As a result, it is critical to link the business model to the stakeholders. We have to deal with social and environmental issues in our line of work.
Givaudan’s Anna Segura, Head of B Corp Certification: We’re all progressing at various rates and different stages of maturity within the cohort. There are educational options available; more mature people may educate those less mature. So, for example, I’ve been asked things like, “How did you handle this in your organization?” by the cohort. How did you and your leaders cope with this kind of discussion? It was also beneficial to discuss how to handle the certification with the others. Some organizations are stronger in a certain area, such as local weather, biodiversity, or diversity and inclusion. Thus there is surely a studying option on specific topics.
My advice is certain, and I will surely follow it; it is valuable to learn, to adapt, and to seek out ways in which we may work. Maintain your particular cadence for topics that have been agreed upon among the different cohorts since I feel it is important to adjust to the speed of your group. We must follow a procedure and a change curve on certain issues, so we must provide time and space for the change to be completed.
Danone’s World B Corp Director, Gian Maria Bruno: The three words that sprang to me were: when, why, and how. To begin with, there is a compelling need for reform. As a result, I think we should act quickly. We’d welcome more big players to help us push the transformation. The essential modification won’t be doable if big players aren’t in. Nobody possesses the keys, which implies there isn’t a single solution. And participating here is one way to uncover a slew of keys that might be useful in driving the change that’s required.
Keyvan Macedo, Natura &Co’s Sustainability Director: B Motion Builders, is a valuable resource for learning about the requirements and KPIs for B Corp Certification. It is beneficial to get insight from people who have traveled this journey before us to avoid some of the blunders and mistakes that we have made and learn from the challenges that we have encountered. So, they’ll decide that it’s something we can try. It was a fantastic thing to do.
Marquis: How are your companies including employees in the B Corp movement?
Gerdau, Boneff: We’re running two projects at the moment. One is an internal communications strategy with HR to raise awareness and data via dialogues about what B Motion Builders symbolizes and what it means for us as a company to become a B Corp, the issue, the behaviors, what we believe, and what we must constantly fight for.
Another program focuses on training not just on the B Motion Builders but also on sustainability, environmental sustainability, and goal-setting. Consequently, we believe that the individual makes each decision. Every employee in the company should have the moral foresight to do the right thing. Outside of the corporate headquarters is the most crucial element of the company. They’re at the factories and in many countries where we do business. The best approach for us to redesign the company is for every individual who works with us. It’s almost an action word, implying that all employees should make decisions to do the right thing at all times.
Natura, Macedo: We have this notion inside the company that, even though we are all part of the same group and all of our companies are in the same industry, we should employ the concepts of autonomy and dependency. As a standard platform, we’re using B Motion Builders.
So, when we’re talking about range and inclusiveness, for example, we want to bring in as many people as possible from as many different business models as possible and say, “This will probably not make sense for Aesop.” It’ll make a lot of sense for The Physique Store. It will make a lot of sense for Natura.” As you said, the knowledge we have regarding inclusive hiring at The Physique Store is something we’d want to share with the rest of the team. But it’s not simple to implement the same concept that they do over there [at another subsidiary].