Shareholder primacy and an unwavering focus on the financial bottom line took a hit last week when 181 CEOs from leading U.S. companies signed on to the Business Roundtable’s new statement of purpose for the modern corporation. Members of this influential group signaled a move away from a sole focus on profits to stakeholder balancing where customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and the environment are also considered. This is an encouraging message, but what will action look like? And which companies are going to step up to take bold, decisive action?
“We’re excited to see this recognition that the role of business is to create positive change,” said Jason Sharpe, CEO and Co-Owner at Namasté Solar. “And we’re even more excited to see which companies step up to take action. Who is going to walk the talk and be part of this movement?”
Purpose is Baked Into Everything We Do
There are many companies already doing the work that the Business Roundtable is now talking about, and Namasté Solar is proud to be part of that community. “The key ingredients of socially conscious business are baked into our company,” said Geri Mitchell-Brown, Director of Employee Experience at Namasté Solar. “From our founding we have had a social purpose included in our mission. On top of that we are 100% employee-owned, a Certified B Corporation, and a Public Benefit Corporation here in Colorado. All of these factors ensure that we consider people, planet, and profit in our business decisions.”
Our employee-owned, cooperative model brings more voices and diverse perspectives to the table to help Namasté Solar succeed. Our Certified B Corporation status provides third-party verification that we are conducting our business in a socially and environmentally responsible way. And our Public Benefit Corporation status codifies our commitment to stakeholder balancing and accountability in our articles of incorporation, making it legally binding to fulfill our social purpose and mission.
There is a Roadmap for Change
The B Corp community offers a roadmap for change to companies that want to pursue business with purpose beyond profit but don’t have these elements already baked in. B Lab, the nonprofit that leads the global movement of “people using business as a force for good,” created the B Impact Assessment (BIA) as one of the steps toward becoming a Certified B Corp, but it’s also a free tool for any company looking to improve.
“You can see the questions that lead to B Corp certification, and you can start by working on one area that best fits your company: workers, customers, environment, or community,” said Geri. “By doing this you can make a concerted effort to improve stakeholder balancing – one stakeholder group at a time.”
Don’t think B Corp certification or the BIA are for your company? The B Corporation community consists of over 3,000 companies across 150 industries and 64 countries. There is almost certainly a company like yours in this community. Find them, use them as an example, and look at their BIA results. It’s likely they would talk to you about their experience and share lessons learned, too.
Let’s Get to Work
As a consumer, you have the power to vote for the type of business and the type of economy you want to see. Each dollar you spend is a vote, and each purchase decision is an opportunity. We need consumers to join in by consciously supporting businesses who are more responsible, transparent, and accountable. Certified B Corporations provide an easy, third-party verified way to do this.
As for you, corporate America, we’re thrilled to see you ready to make some changes, and we’re here to help. There is a roadmap for change out there, and there are many businesses already on this journey. Dive in, reach out, and let’s get to work!