Article by Christopher Marquis, Forbes
Image by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash
Recent trends in the United States, including the coronavirus pandemic and renewed focus on racial injustices, highlight that there are significant inequities in today’s economy and society. Many have responded that corporations need to more rigorously work to meet the needs of not just shareholders, but all stakeholders, such as employees, consumers and communities.
Yesterday, global nonprofit B Lab announced an important step in the transition to stakeholder capitalism. As part of a new program, six publicly-traded global multinational companies are committing to work together to more deeply embed stakeholder governance and accountability into their businesses. A telling aspect of this set of firms however is that they are all from Europe and South America. In addition to espousing a greater focus on stakeholders, U.S. firms should also look to these regions for inspiration on how to create more sustainable and equitable businesses.
B Corps are companies that are certified for their environmental and social performance. While there are about 3500 B Corps in over 70 countries and 150 industries, mostly they are small- to medium-sized firms such as well known B Corps Patagonia, Seventh Generation and Ben & Jerry’s. While B Lab recently created a certification process for large companies, the organizational and financial complexity of large publicly-traded multinationals makes certification a particularly challenge for these businesses.