Announcing new members of the B Lab Global Board of Directors
The B Lab Global Board of Directors is pleased to announce three new members: Wojciech (Wojtek) Baginski, Francine Lemos, and Chris Turner. Lemos, the former Executive Director of Sistema B Brasil, and Baginski, a B Corp movement leader in Poland and co-founder of the Interdependence Coalition, were selected from a group of 25 candidates nominated by the B Global Network. Both bring deep knowledge of the B Corp movement and fresh, new perspectives to the Board.
Turner, the Executive Director of B Lab UK, is joining as a representative of the Global Leadership Team of the B Global Network, and will co-chair the Global Leadership Team going forward alongside B Lab Global Lead Executive Eleanor Allen.
We are at an exciting inflection point in the B Corp movement as Eleanor Allen takes on the Lead Executive role, and we attempt to seize the opportunities that have emerged out of the turbulence of the past few years by tackling key strategic issues including: strategy and governance of the Global Network; evolution of our business model, including our approach to certification and verification; fundraising strategy; the integrity and culture of our standards, including the ongoing review of the performance requirements for B Corp Certification; talent attraction and retention; and board governance and growth — all while integrating our JEDI commitments.
Wojtek, Francine, and Chris will provide vital input and leadership as they assume fiduciary duties as board members. Below, the newest members of the Board share the experiences both within and outside the B Corp movement that led them to this moment.
We’re thrilled to have you joining B Lab’s Board of Directors. It’s especially valuable to bring on new members who have roots within our community. Can you share a bit about your history with the B Corp movement?
Wojtek Baginski: I am grateful and excited to join the board. I learned about the B Corp movement when I was living and working in New York in 2009-2010. For a young lawyer, the concept of a Benefit Corporation and the whole movement around it was fascinating, especially from the legal perspective. I was immediately hooked. When I came back to Europe I reached out to the newly formed B Lab Europe. Back then, especially in the Central and Eastern Europe region (I live in Poland), the movement was totally novel and very innovative. I was providing lectures and disseminating information about it wherever I could — basically orbiting around the movement. The breakthrough came around 2016 when a publicly listed company from Poland decided to embark on the B Corp journey. They reached out and I was helping them and B Lab during this certification, both with the B Impact Assessment and with legal issues. I got deeper and deeper into the movement and around 2018 became a B Lab Market Explorer for Poland. That resulted in an even closer cooperation with B Lab Europe.
During the pandemic together with Katie Hill [former CEO of B Lab Europe] and some other organizations, we formed the Interdependence Coalition, an initiative focused on public policy work in the European Union. This has been a way to advocate for stakeholder corporate governance frameworks — basically the Benefit Corporation model. During that time I also joined B Lab’s Global Public Policy Circle led by Marcel Fukayama. Last year, together with a lawyer friend from my firm (I am a practicing attorney) we adjusted and drafted the B Corp legal requirement for Poland. As you see it was a really active and very fun time. I enjoyed it immensely and I am looking forward to the next decade.
Francine Lemos: I worked for 12 years at Natura, including when it first achieved B Corp Certification. It was there I had the chance to get to know the B Corp movement and the relevance it has for organizations and economic systems change. When I left Natura I joined Cause, a consultancy firm focused on advocacy and supporting brand social activism — and one of the first B Corps in Brazil. After a year, I became Cause's partner and CEO, running the operation for almost three years. During this period I got really involved in corporate activism, social cause communication, and movement building. I was eager to enhance my positive impact when I heard Marcel Fukayama was leaving Sistema B Brasil to take a position at Sistema B International. At that moment, I was sure that position was a perfect fit for me. I joined Sistema B Brasil as Executive Director at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — a hard moment for Latin America as a whole, but I was sure I made the right decision. I had the chance to strengthen the movement in Brazil, attract new B Corps and build a great team. I learned a lot in this period and understood that real impact was being done everywhere — from South America to Asia.
I just moved to the Netherlands for personal reasons, and having the chance to join the B Lab Board is a way to stay connected to everything I believe and keep contributing to the B Corp movement's expansion. It's not just a pleasure, but a real honor to be part of it.
Chris Turner: I first heard about the B Corp movement in the late ‘00s, when I was advising corporations on emerging trends from around the world. At the time it was an exciting innovation, but it was unclear how far it would spread. In the decade after that, the B Corp concept proved to be a compelling proposition for businesses focusing on purpose and impact, while the challenges exacerbated by our existing economic orthodoxy — both social and climate-related — became more acute and more urgent. Solutions were needed. As a result, by the time I joined the movement as Executive Director of B Lab UK in 2019 we were about to embark on a period of rapid growth — now with a team of nearly 30 and a UK B Corp community of over 800 businesses.
You’re each bringing to the board a wide range of experiences in culturally and politically varied business contexts. Could you share some learnings from your region that you think will be of value to B Lab’s governance?
Baginski: I have been living in Poland for the last decade — a country which has developed tremendously in many ways during the last 30 years. It had its ups and downs and I think there are lots of lessons to be learned from its example, especially in perseverance and entrepreneurship.
I hope that my firsthand experiences of running a commercial cross-border law firm in such a setting — together with experiences of cultivating a movement and a community of B Corps that believe that financial success and growth is not the only purpose of a company — will be of value in my service as a board member. I have also lived in the U.S. and China and I think that all these perspectives may be useful.
Lemos: Making business in Latin America is not an easy thing. The region is unstable politically, institutionally, and economically. We experienced so many crises during the decades that we learned to deal with uncertainty and developed an entrepreneurial spirit — key to survive in this environment. Many B Corp movement innovations came from Sistema B in the past, like the Cities Can B program and a systemic approach that influenced our Theory of Change. I guess that it’s that entrepreneurial spirit and innovative vision that I'm going to bring to B Lab's Board.
Turner: The UK is a small country, but one that prides itself on global innovation and leadership. (It will be no surprise, therefore, to hear me proudly describing the UK B Corp community as the fastest growing in the world!) One of the most frequent themes of my conversations about the movement is that of “leadership,” and exactly how we continue to define, maintain, and imagine the future of leadership in business. This has implications for the certification itself, our strategy, and also our own roles as leaders. I’ll be bringing these perspectives to the board to help ensure that we’re moving with the speed and conviction necessary to maintain leadership in the much-needed transition towards an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system.
Where do you see the movement a decade from now? What challenges do we need to overcome in order to achieve lasting progress towards an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system?
Baginski: I think the movement will continue to quickly grow and develop. I may sound naïve but I really hope that in a decade majority of business leaders and companies in the world will recognize that profits alone are not the only measure of economic success, and that the values shared by the B Corp movement — interdependence, stakeholder orientation, higher social purpose, high environmental, governance, and social standards — will guide companies that want to be fit for the 21st century. I realize that attaining this goal is challenging and we will face many obstacles. The ones that I see on the horizon are opposition from business and trade associations used to the old ways of doing business, as well as regulatory backlash or the simple lack of reliable information and education for managers of companies. However, I am certain that with the people we have at B Lab and around the movement, and the people that this movement attracts — with all the intellectual firepower that we have, we are able to successfully address any obstacles.
Lemos: A decade from now is an important mark for the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. I hope we can look back and see that we’ve given businesses the sense of urgency needed, and that we had a great contribution in making people, governments, and businesses act differently from now. That we dramatically contribute to a real shift not only in the narrative, but especially in the way businesses behave and operate. I know we've done a lot so far, but if we consider the challenges of humanity and the planet now, there's a lot to be done and we have to consider that ten years passes in a glimpse. If we want to change the system, we'll need to be focused on our purpose and theory of change, be creative and pragmatic at the same time — and most of all, act as a real global movement seeking systems change, in an interdependent way.
Turner: If we are to succeed in this mission, even with a decade of work, we will need to overcome enormous challenges. The system that we are trying to change is overwhelming in scale and complexity, and the incentives and behaviors that we are beginning to change are well-entrenched. However, one of the most exciting shifts in the past year or two has been the increasing perception of this change as ultimately inevitable —business simply must be a force for good if we are to survive and thrive. We’ll be working together with a growing “movement of movements,” and we’ll be powered by an incredible global community of businesses committed to this change...ten years might just be enough.
We’re grateful to Wojtek, Francine, and Chris for bringing their insights, talent, and experience to B Lab Global’s board. Read their full bios below:
Wojciech (Wojtek) Baginski is an International lawyer qualified to practice law in the U.S. (New York), Poland, England, and Wales. He is a co-founder of Impactiv, a boutique cross-border law firm with a lens on sustainability. Wojtek has been promoting B Corps in Poland since 2012. He is a member of B Lab Global Public Policy Circle, and Co-founder of The Interdependence Coalition, supporting the EU in the introduction of a directive on stakeholder corporate governance in Europe which will mandate companies to shift their business operations to a more socially responsible model. Together with his team he has drafted and adjusted the B Corp legal requirement for Poland. He is a graduate of the LL.M. Program at the University of Virginia School of Law. Wojciech also holds an MBA degree from Northwestern Kellogg School of Management and WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management. Wojtek has a lifelong passion for martial arts and golf.
Francine Lemos’s purpose is to enhance the level of consciousness of business, stimulating the transition to a more human-based and sustainable model. A professional with more than 20 years of experience in different business areas, with focus in business strategy and development, organizational culture, marketing strategy and branding, she spent more than 10 years as an executive at Natura, the biggest B Corp in the world. She has a Public Business Degree from Fundação Getúlio Vargas, and postgraduate in Strategic Marketing and Branding from New York University. Francine is a partner and board member of CAUSE, a B Corp that supports brands and organizations to identify and manage social causes and become business activists. She was CEO of Cause between 2018 and 2019. For the past few years, Francine occupied the position as Executive Director at Sistema B Brasil. She just moved to the Netherlands for a life decision and now is a member of the B Lab Global Board.
Chris Turner is Executive Director of B Lab UK, the charity building the B Corporation movement in the UK. B Lab supports a growing community of companies that are using business as a force for good. Chris has a varied background working in the U.S., Europe and Africa: he began his career in marketing, dabbled in politics, led two successful startups, and built a portfolio of innovative international development projects for a major foundation. Prior to B Lab UK, Chris led an Open Innovation consultancy practice, advising a wide range of clients on innovation and strategy.