As a business that always strives to do well and to do good, Dog and Bone’s decision to seek certification as a B Corp was simple. B Corp is a global movement that is challenging old beliefs about how businesses should operate. It is redefining success as the impact a business has on its employees, customers, community and the environment; not merely its shareholders.
What is B Corp?
B Corporations - B Corps for short - are for profit (or for benefit) organisations certified as being at the forefront of a major culture shift in business where the traditional bottom line of Profit has been expanded to include triple bottom line of Profit, People and Planet.
B Corp is the only certification process that measures a company’s ‘entire social and environmental performance’ (B-Lab, 2019). The growth and success of the movement can be attributed to the profound cultural shift in attitudes towards each other and the planet. As the co-founders of B Lab and the B Corp certification state, it’s a community of people using ‘business as a force for good’.
B Corp has set out on a mission to provide:
Tools for businesses to transition to an ethical and environmentally sustainable model;
Global benchmarks of ethical and sustainable practice so that transition can be measured.;
A certification process through which businesses can verify their ethical and (environmentally) sustainable practices as genuine and enduring. This process is conducted with the utmost rigour, which in turn provides consumers with a certification they can trust.
Why Dog and Bone certified as a B Corp and why we’re proud of being re-certified
Dog and Bone’s vision of creating ‘a better world through technology’ aligned perfectly with ‘B Lab’s vision that all people in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand benefit from an economy that builds community and regenerates the environment’. Dog and Bone was purposefully set up as an ethical business with a mission ‘to empower purpose driven organisations to leverage technology for a better world’. However, while it’s easy to say that kind of thing, B Lab insists that businesses actually walk the walk.
Dog and Bone was thrilled to receive B Corp certification in 2016.
As great as that was, however, it’s wasn’t a lifetime achievement award. As mentioned, transformation must be both enduring and continual, and in order to maintain certification you’re obliged to undergo the process every three years. Not only that, but the criteria grows stricter each time. As B Lab AuNZ CEO, Andrew Davies put it, if B Corps are defined as outperforming other businesses, ‘as there are more B Corps, the standards must go up, otherwise you’re effectively lowering the bar’.
For the past 6 months many of us at Dog and Bone have been involved in one way or another in our B Impact assessment; collecting data and evidence to back up the responses to the extensive list of questions that a B Corp assessment requires.
B Corp – one of the most rigorous corporate social responsibility certification
To become a certified B Corp, you must first take the B Impact assessment, completing a lengthy questionnaire comprised of 200+ questions. The B Impact Assessment is a thorough and detailed survey of your business’ social and environmental performance in the five areas of governance, workers, environment, community and customers.
We’re proud to say that after months of measuring, calculating, collating and compiling we have re-certified as a B Corp, scoring 92.8 on the B Impact Assessment, which as per B Corps commitment to transparency is publicly available here. And we can say that if achieving certification once felt great, re-certification feels even better.
B Corp and the Corporate Social Responsibility movement
B Corp challenges the long-held business assumption that behaving ethically comes at the expense of profit. Increasingly, consumers and business owners are debunking this myth, proving that doing good can also be good for business. According to The Global Sustainability Report by Nielsen ‘brands that demonstrate a commitment to [environmental] sustainability out-perform those that don’t’. With ‘73% [of consumers] saying they would definitely or probably change a behaviour to reduce their impact on the planet’.
Indeed, a report by the Yale Centre for Business and the Environment, Patagonia Inc., and Caprock, revealed that B Corps ‘had a greater revenue growth rate than public firms of comparable size during the Great Recession…researchers at the School of Management at SUNY Binghamton found that certified B Corps had an impressive 50.48 percent revenue growth rate during the 2008 financial crisis’, a testament to the financial durability of the all-stakeholder governance model.
Of significant importance to the B Lab model, Andrew Davies says, ‘is that it is suitable for virtually all business’, regardless of size or industry. There are also a number of benefits that different sized businesses bring to the B Corp movement for example, larger B Corps come with considerable scale of impact and are able to very effectively build awareness, while small businesses are able to effect change much faster with easier access to their leadership. As Mr Davies said, B Corp is ‘thrilled to have businesses like Dog and Bone, who are the backbone of the B Corp community, not only become certified but then go on through re-certification and meet those increasingly higher standards. It’s recognition that becoming a B Corp isn’t just a once off tick box exercise, it’s an ongoing process driving improved impact’. And word is spreading: certified B Corps are now found in 71 countries across 150 different industries.
B Corp: A growing global movement
The collective strength of the B Corp community was demonstrated earlier this year with the powerful Lets Get To Work campaign. 33 B Corp CEOs took out a full page add in the New York Times calling on the Business Roundtable C
EOs to make good on their statement that they were shifting away from shareholder primacy and would instead prioritise all stakeholders. Closer to home we saw the powerful impact of 36 B Corp CEOs including our own, Dan McKinley, coming together to place full page ads in The Australian Financial Review, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian online, calling on businesses to support their employees in joining students striking for climate action. Supporting the Not Business as Usual campaign was an example of the kind of solidarity and advocacy that the B Corp community embodies.
Dog and Bone is in good company
Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand is now the fastest growing B Corp region per capita, with ‘a seven-fold increase in local B Corps since 2014’. Globally B Corp boasts such brands as:
Ben & Jerry’s
The Body Shop
Australian Ethical Investment
Given the supportive and collaborative nature of the B Corp community, it’s particularly exciting for Dog and Bone to be in such good company.
The next step in the B Corp journey: campaigning for the Benefit Company status
Taking the next step towards genuine and enduring change B Lab is leading the push globally to introduce the opt-in Benefit Company legal status. The ‘Benefit Company is a model of corporate governance that creates commercial sustainability by providing companies with a framework to embed purpose, consider stakeholders, and report on impact.’ The opt in Benefit company status legally enshrines your commitment to all stakeholders or the triple bottom line of ‘profit, people and planet’.
Another signal of the changing times and significant shift towards a more inclusive and sustainable economy are the 8,000 companies globally that have adopted the Benefit Company status, collectively raising $2 billion in capital to date. Also known as Benefit Corporation the alternative legal structure is widely available across the USA and a number of other countries.
Although it is not yet legislated for in all countries there is growing momentum in Australia and parts of Asia and Europe something Dog and Bone is keen to support and adopt once the appropriate laws are passed. As Dan McKinley puts it: ‘having your commitment to people and planet enshrined in your business’ constitution would legally enable and protect impact and purpose driven businesses to fulfil their commitments to all stakeholders and not be solely legally bound to shareholder interests as is the case now.’
We look forward to supporting the push to introduce the opt in Benefit Company status so we can take our ethical mindset and practices a step further by legally enshrining our commitment to people and planet.
The benefits of B Corp and what it means to us
Dog and Bone’s CEO Dan McKinley grew up surrounded by people working in the Not For Profit sector. Indeed his parents were social workers who with other like-minded people co-founded their own non-profit organisation. It was a combination of Dan’s entrepreneurial instincts and his passion for social and environmental justice that lead him to found a business that would contribute to a better world.
Most of the work we do is with Not For Profit organisations so our biggest impact is the flow on effect to the communities that they serve. Indeed, 2018 saw us put $21M of direct cost down into the Not For Profit sector alone. We have been able to provide strategic guidance and support which according to some of our clients has had invaluable long-term impact. We also look to use our resources – be they financial, leveraging connections and community or our amazing team’s capability – to give back to the community and make a lasting impact where we can.
The B Corp certification has given us recognition of the impact we are having and is an independent third party verification that both businesses and consumers can trust.
Through B Lab and the B Corp community we learn better ways to achieve growth whilst running a socially and environmentally responsible business. Increasingly, we’re finding that our clients are demanding their suppliers and partners align with their values.
Beyond being a trusted benchmark for ethical practice B Corp is confirmation that businesses world ever believe that they should be set up to benefit the people, communities and environment that they impact. Most reassuringly B Corp is a community of like-minded people wanting to be the change the world needs, ‘forming regional networks, supporting each other and sharing global platforms, cultivating business opportunities aligned with the B Corp ethos of balancing purpose and profit’.
‘It has to be a global movement for real change to happen. B Corps’ approach of harnessing the power of business to effect the change that the world so desperately needs, is going to be a pivotal point in our history. I’m super proud to be a part of this.’ – Dan McKinley, Dog and Bone CEO.