Why every business should balance purpose and profit

Posted on 11 Feb 2019 by Maddy White

Society’s most pressing challenges can’t be solved by government and charities alone. Businesses need to help shoulder the responsibility and use their influence to drive positive change.

Innocent smoothies is a B Corp business - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Innocent smoothies is a B Corp business – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Business of today must no longer focus solely on revenues, it must embed strategies that balances purpose and profit.

Benefit Corporations or B Corps are a new type of business. They are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and self-sufficient economy. 

If certified as a B Corp, a business is legally required to consider the impact of its decisions on its workers, customers, suppliers, communities, and the environment.

The first 19 B Corps were certified in 2007. Since then 2,655 companies in 60 countries across 150 industries have gained certification.

You have probably heard of some of the big players; Ben & Jerry’s, Hootsuite, Innocent, Patagonia and Kickstarter, but you might not realise what they are doing as B Corps.

Outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia donates time and services to hundreds of environmental groups all over the world who work to help reverse impacts of climate change, and smoothie-maker Innocent donates 10% of all of its profits to charity.

“We believe in innovation that improves people’s lives”

The majority of B Corps as reflected in the business landscape are smaller businesses. TM previously spoke to Thang Vo-Ta, CEO and co-founder of Callaly, about the B Corp femcare business. You can read the full interview here.

(L) Ewa Radziwon, product development lead, and Thang Vo-Ta, co-founder & CEO – image courtesy of Callaly.

He said: “We believe in innovation that improves people’s lives, and there hasn’t been any innovation in the femcare market for decades, nothing significant since tampons were invented in the 1930s.”

Callaly has supplied tens of thousands of period products to charities including Bloody Good Period, The Red Box Project, Street Cramps, Solace Women’s Aid and Southall Black Sisters. Last year, over 6% of its sales went to charity.

B Corp businesses are not only occupied with their earnings. However, gaining this certification could make businesses and products more appealing to increasingly aware consumers and this could result in higher revenues.

He adds, I am leading a company that has this innovative new product. As a B Corp, we exist for the benefit of society, communities and the environment, not just to make money. Our customers believe in what we stand for.”

Core values of a B Corp:

  • That the business should seek to change the world
  • That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered
  • Through its products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all
  • To maintain the understanding that it is responsible for future generations

How to become a B Corp?

The first step to becoming a B Corp is to complete the B Impact Assessment (BIA), this evaluates how your company interacts with your workers, customers, community, and environment.

After completing the BIA, B Lab will verify your score to determine if your company meets the 80-point bar for certification. To maintain certification, B Corps update their BIA and verify their updated score every three years.