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2020 has seen a series of profound challenges and upheavals that have shaken our faith in the status quo – and made us question the ability of our economic, political and societal systems to respond.
While facing the ongoing realities of the pandemic, many B Corps have responded with extraordinary measures to support healthcare workers, local communities, customers, suppliers and employees.
And as the Black Lives Matter movement reverberated in the UK, B Corps got together to start having uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations about racism, allyship and taking collective action.
Meanwhile, increasing urgency around tackling the climate crisis is met by B Corp leadership and a ripple of commitments to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The theme which runs throughout these collective responses is interdependence: the understanding that we are in this together and are interconnected. This chapter spotlights the people behind the movement and the stories that inspire change.
At the heart of this global movement is our community: people who are parents, friends, partners, children, siblings and colleagues. People who care about workers and communities, and who put public health and safety ahead of profits.
As the pandemic continues to challenge our economy, infrastructure and everyday routines, we are reminded of the power of business to care for local communities and support all stakeholders during times of crisis.
We are inspired by B Corps’ commitment to protect their workers. Some have opted for management salary reductions to top up compensation for furlough workers, while others have implemented new online wellbeing initiatives to ensure employees feel emotionally supported. When it came to protecting suppliers in developing economies, B Corps quickly reached out to ensure farmers, producers and manufacturers had access to the necessary PPE and hygiene supplies. For the B Corps able to help more locally, providing key supplies to the frontline during the peak of the crisis became their main focus.
We are acutely aware that COVID-19 continues to affect society at all levels, and we anticipate that the pandemic will keep creating new and ongoing challenges for the UK B Corp community and all businesses. We will continue to monitor how B Corps respond as things evolve.
The annual community survey of our B Corps has revealed an unmistakable pattern: every year, the environment emerges as the priority impact area. The 2020 survey was no different, revealing that 100% of B Corps are actively trying to improve their environmental impact.
In December 2019, at COP25 in Madrid, 533 B Corps announced a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030. That number now stands at 800.
This announcement prompted the formation of the B Corp Climate Collective: the UK cohort committed to collaborating and taking concrete action on the climate and ecological emergency. Recognising the need for business action, B Lab UK expects all UK B Corps to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The B Corp Climate Collective stands in solidarity with the Black community and other marginalised groups, fully aware of the link between racial and climate justice. To highlight the importance of Climate Justice and the work of B Corps in this area, B Lab is releasing a playbook in January 2021.
Read on to find out more about the B Corp community’s response to the racial justice movement.
In June, B Lab UK and the B Corp community rallied to support the racial justice movement. We recognise that most of the B Corp community sit in a structurally privileged position – but as a progressive movement for economic change, we are listening to the range of voices from our community to learn and make progress.
We believe that we have a responsibility to create space for conversations that can lead to meaningful collective action – not as experts in anti-racism, but as advocates for regenerative and inclusive economic models.
More than 100 B Corps met virtually for the first of these conversations. Registrations for the event (“It’s time to get uncomfortable”) hit capacity within one hour, with 150 people waitlisted. To multiply the effect and meet the demand from businesses ready to take action, attendees were asked to replicate the event format within their organisations.
“We cannot credibly build an inclusive economic system without addressing the injustice, inequality and violence that disproportionately impacts Black people and People of Colour”
Anthea Kelsick, Co-CEO, B Lab US and Canada