Taking action together: The B Global Network at Skoll World Forum
In April 2022, B Global Network leaders gathered at the Skoll World Forum for a conversation on our coordinated efforts to create a favorable policy environment for stakeholder governance in jurisdictions around the world — and how this work is expanding beyond the B Corp movement.
Led by Marcel Fukayama, Head of Global Policy at B Lab Global, the conversation brought together Wojciech Baginski, Policy Group Leader at B Lab Europe, Holly Ensign-Barstow, Director of Stakeholder Governance at B Lab U.S. & Canada, Camilo Ramirez, Executive Director of Sistema B Colombia, Chris Turner, Executive Director of B Lab UK, and Andrew Kassoy, Co-Founder & CEO of B Lab Global.
Fukayama set the stage with an overview of how policy work fits into B Lab’s larger vision for economic systems change, by influencing both businesses and the legal environments in which they operate in countries around the world.
“We currently have over 4,565 [now 5,000] B Corps around the world from 150 different industries, sharing a meaning — a purpose — to redefine success for the economy, and also to build an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system,” Fukayama said. “In our network we've developed an approach for policy change, focused mainly on fostering stakeholder governance” — the framework that enables companies to make a legal commitment to bring positive impact not just to their shareholders, but to their works, customers, communities, and environment. B Lab’s current policy strategies include “enabling institutions for stakeholder governance, and connecting the mandatory legal corporate structure in fiduciary duties of both investors and business administrators with high-level governance practices.”
Kassoy followed up with a brief history of the B Lab’s policy work, which began out of an impulse to confront the “source code error in capitalism” that is shareholder primacy and maximization of profit over all else. Since its founding 2006, B Lab has advanced benefit corporation legislation in over 50 jurisdictions worldwide, allowing businesses to take a corporate framework that values benefit to key stakeholders alongside shareholder profit.
“A secret sauce of the B corp movement is you have this incredibly committed group of credible companies who are willing to take action together — because they can't do it alone,” Kassoy said. “I think one of the things you'll hear from people who are going to talk now is the importance of coalition-building beyond the B corp Community.”
The international panelists provided current examples of coalition-building happening in their regions:
Sistema B Colombia’s Camilo Ramirez spoke the momentum that stakeholder governance has been gaining in Latin America, all with active involvement of Sistema B — including the new benchmark for sustainable companies on the Sao Paolo Stock Exchange; the Chile Con Proposito framework bringing together businesses, academics, and civil society actors to advocate for positive corporate social and environmental impact; and the recent ExpoBic conference of Collective Benefit and Interests societies, at which Colombian President Ivan Duque spoke about the importance of benefit corporations.
B Lab UK’s Chris Turner talked about the extensive coalition-building that has gone into the movement for the Better Business Act (BBA) — proposed legislation that would amend the UK’s 2006 Companies Act to ensure that all UK companies are legally responsible for benefiting workers, customers, communities and the environment. This included the plans for Better Business Day, an action in UK Parliament that brought together 1,000 businesses in late April to advocate for the passage of the BBA.
B Lab U.S. & Canada’s Holly Ensign-Barstow provided an update on the progress of the White House Initiative on Inclusive Economic Growth. Initially launched in 2020, this is an effort led by B Lab U.S. & Canada in partnership with U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and a coalition of 50 impact-oriented organizations to support bold action toward stakeholder governance and community investing. The U.S. & Canada team has been working closely with a group of four U.S. Senators to put together a comprehensive bill drawing on these principles.
B Lab Europe’s Wojciech Baginski, a B Corp movement leader in Poland and co-founder of the Interdependence Coalition, spoke about the ways in which the Coalition is advocating within EU Parliament to improve company law frameworks and enable the adoption of stakeholder governance — allowing businesses to better align their interests with practices that bring benefit to the environment, the communities they operate in, and society at large — and how this work is happening in concert with the European Green Deal.
“If there is one single element that connects all these different initiatives, it is that we cannot do it alone,” said Fukayama. “We cannot change the rules of the game alone. That's why it is so important to cooperate and collaborate.”
Watch the full panel below: