A different way to do business

By Chris Halburd, B Lab Europe Advisory Board Member and Solicitor at Skinner & Associates

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis and with a maturing understanding of the interaction between humanity and the planet there has been a growing acknowledgment that business as usual is no longer a realistic long-term option. This has resulted in various global initiatives looking at revisiting the way that business is done such as Conscious Capitalism, Inclusive Capitalism, The B Team, Shared Value, Benefit Corporations (B Corps), Blueprint for Better Business and Integrated Reporting. One thing that they all have in common is an appreciation that business can no longer be treated as a zero sum game in which profit is the only consideration. Two of these initiatives are taking root on the border.

Albury –Wodonga now has three certified B Corps with several more businesses part way through the certification process. In Australia B Corps are certified by, the not for profit, B Lab Australia & New Zealand. There are now over 1700 B Corps in 50 countries. These businesses are about using business as a force for good in the world. They get certified only after passing the B Impact Assessment which is a useful tool freely available online to help businesses to think through and measure both their positive and negative impacts on society and the environment.

Shared Value is about bringing business and society back together by redefined the purpose of business as creating shared value, that is, creating economic value in a way that also produces value for society by addressing its challenges, including environmental challenges. It is about reconnecting a firm’s success with social progress. Recently one of Australia’s leading shared value consultants spoke to a group of over 50 local business, academic and community leaders, brought together by Regional Development Australia – Murray, in Wodonga as the starting point for exploring how shared value can be put to work on the border.

Rather than just accepting business as usual and waiting for someone else to do something about our increasingly complex social and environmental situation B Corps and shared value are tools that allow us to actively play a part in co-creating the place in which we want to live.