/ 03.25.19 /

What is a “Good Business”? Kim Coupounas, B Lab

By now it’s accepted fact that companies who value their impact on society and the environment are not only more innovative, they perform better. Just ask Kim Coupounas, Global Ambassador of B Lab – the nonprofit organization that certifies B Corporations – who’s witnessed firsthand the ever-growing number of benefits bestowed upon companies deemed “good businesses”.

Coupounas cites a statement from Goldman Sachs that validates her point: “Companies that are the leaders in sustainable, social and good governance policies have 25% higher stock value than their less sustainable competitors.”

With the rising number of consumers, investors looking to align their purchases and funds with their values, it’s not hard to see why. Add to that the fact that millennials – who make up 50 percent of the global workplace – are seeking meaningful work and investments that make money and a difference. “This trend is only accelerating,” affirms Coupounas, adding that in the coming decades millennials will shape labor and capital markets in a way no other generation has before.

The reality helps explain why a growing contingent of corporate America is embracing the idea of “good business”. Considering the value that businesses can potentially bring to the world, that’s a really good thing. ”Society’s most challenging problems can’t be solved by government and nonprofits alone,” says Coupounas. “Business has an essential role in creating the prosperous future we know our children and grandchildren deserve.”

So what exactly does it mean to be a “good business”? And how does one achieve the sought-after label? There’s no better place to look for answers than the B Corp movement. As Coupounas explains, “B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good.”

Today, that movement boasts over 2,800 B Corps from 150 industries in 60 countries, representing 150,000 workers and over $50B US in revenues. To earn the designation a company must complete a certification which not only evaluates its product or service, it assesses the overall impact the company has on its workers, customers, community and the environment.

Bottom line, says Coupounas, these companies are working “towards reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose.”

Of note, many women-owned and women-led companies count themselves among the B Corp community – Eileen Fisher, Athleta, Bama Companies, A to Z Wineworks, to name a few. Many others, like Working for Women, are making direct contributions to women’s leadership, says Coupounas. “These businesses believe fundamentally in being a force for social good and elevating women’s economic independence and prosperity.”

Of course, B Corp is not the only path to good business. Any company can make small changes that go a long way. Offering primary caregiver leave, paying a living wage, purchasing from companies that are majority-owned by women or individuals from underrepresented populations, and reducing one’s greenhouse gas emissions are just some of the many practices that can move the needle. Becoming a “good business” simply requires one good step after the other.

For a list of practices that constitute “good business”, along with a number of resources and tools to help make those changes, take the free B Impact Assessment. With 50,000 companies around the world using the Assessment to measure and improve their practices, it’s certainly a tool worth exploring.