Since 2015, the year in which the UN established its agenda, we have been asking ourselves if fulfilling such an ambitious goal is possible. The world’s leading companies decided to swing into action and include in their strategies the seventeen sustainable development goals that best adapted to the essence of their businesses. However, whether any of them actually reached their desired goals during these three years of action is yet to be determined.
However, the B Companies initiative, in place since 2006, proposes: “building an environment where success is measured by the wellbeing of individuals, society and nature”, which means redefining the meaning of success in the economy.
B companies asked, “What is the point of an economy that grows financially and that by its very nature generates rising inequality, depletes Earth’s water and other resources, and deepens individualism and the exclusion of thousands of people.
B companies propose an extremely concrete, practical answer: encouraging the buinesses that form part of this initiative to have in their DNA the essence of their response, needed in this day and age, with an innovative proposal that contains their responsibility as firms toward economic, social and environmental issues. This consists of a global management that perceives a setting with actors who work together to achieve a better world, communicating with their stakeholders and accounting for their actions to monitor their impacts, thus achieving positive outcomes and reducing externalities.
But, what is a B company? According to their website (https://sistemab.org/), B companies comprise an initiative through which people can recognize them as: a new economic “genetics” that allows values and ethics to inspire collective solutions, without neglecting needs such as transcendence, meaning and purpose. This goal commits them to creating a positive impact on society and the environment, operating to the highest standards of management and transparency, broadening the fiduciary duty of shareholders and managers to include nonfinancial interests, and declaring that they form part of a committed community.
The B System model is based on four strategic pillars: a) companies that can be measured; b) +B markets, where success is measured by the wellbeing of people and nature; c) a favorable ecosystem for a new economy; and d) institutional consolidation of the B System.
But, how was this global movement created and promoted? The initiative emerged from BLab, a nonprofit organization created in the United States and Canada in 2006, with the aim of redefining the meaning of success in companies, through the solution of social and environmental problems based on marketed products and services. In Latin America, the B System started in Argentina with “Triciclos” and “Guayakí”, who, with BLab, expanded the B movement in the region with a systemic vision. In 2018, the B Movement has already become global and is present in Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Africa and Australia.
This model shows us that partnering to construct a better world is possible through business initiatives implemented by companies that are aware of their integral responsibility. Many organizations are now participating in this system and adhering to these precepts, such as: BIRUS, Colabora América, International Social Innovation Festival, Granjeros, Innovación de ciudadanía empresarial, Economía del Bien Común, CE100Brasil, The B Team, Ellen McArthur Foundation, Social Lab, ASELA, ASECH, ASHOCA, Partners for the New Economy, among others.
Universities and business schools, as agents of change, play a vital role in driving students, faculty and researchers, within the context of their institutions, to extend the scope of these initiatives. This has led us to collaborating in and cocreating knowledge of this economy, with the aim of generating positive impacts in other communities of this ecosystem. EGADE Business School addresses these ideas and initiatives through its curriculum and through students’ projects and initiatives, identifying, locally and nationally, companies that have the potential for form part of the B System.
Originally published in El Financiero.