This week, Rich and I were able to speak with Kate on our ‘Igniting Change’ podcast and we were keen to pick her brain all about the intention-action gap and the work she does for B CORP!
Kate oversees the community and their programmatic work with climate and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diverse and Inclusion). She joined B Lab 6 years ago and has always believed in business being a force for good. The idea of recognising our responsibility and our ability to help emerging markets and emerging countries and how we can use the power of business to influence that has been her modus operandi for her entire career.
(To hear the full episode, follow the links to listen on your preferred platform below:)
Why do you believe there is gap between consumers' sustainable intentions and their actions?
There are loads, and it really depends on personal circumstances because not everyone has the privilege of making conscious decisions depending on their economic status. But, I’ll focus on the demographic that has that purchasing power and the ability and time to choose.
People have an expectation from businesses they are buying from – that they are doing good and they live up to their expectations, that the business they are buying from is inherently good. What we have seen over the years is that businesses haven’t always operated for the benefit of people and the planet. It’s just the fact of the matter that they have not previously operated with sustainable decisions in mind. This is largely because they are driven by shareholder returns.
Capitalism is great – it just has the wrong operating model. We need to take away the idea that businesses operate purely for the benefit of their shareholders and replace that with the need to operate for the benefit of their stakeholders.
People and planet, then profit.
The challenge is that consumers are trying to make decisions. The organisation they are buying from haven’t matched up their personal values with their work values. If we see ourselves as consumers, we consume and it’s linear. If we change the way we think about things and if we call ourselves citizens, then the consumer might consider the broader impact of buying decisions.
Is there any risk that B Corp can lead to brand greenwashing?
If we focus on elite businesses, we won’t be able to change the system. We need to recognise B Corp is for all! If a business is committed, makes the change and meets the standards, they are welcome into the community. The standards are set however, so that you can’t get by on greenwashing your organisation. There needs to be real change and action within to meet the criteria.
To certify for B CORP you have to change your articles of association and meet the standards then you are welcome. Changing your articles of association means you agree to operate for people and planet, and to meet the standards, which are pretty rigorous, including; governance, workers, environment, community and customers. The bar is very high, but we want people to be a part of it and demonstrate how business is done.
The BIA isn’t perfect, it changes and evolves and each business needs to recertify every 3 years. To certify, businesses must meet a minimum score of 80, however – they are encouraged to keep making improvements and to increase this score each time they recertify.
Ultimately, we consider our work done when we aren’t needed anymore!
What advice would you give to people that want to live more sustainably?
I don’t like the word ‘sustainability.
It suggests a single department within a business but needs to be in every action you take. I prefer the word ‘responsibility. It is our responsibility to leave the planet in a better state than we found it. So as a business, it’s about being responsible for your decisions. Don’t be concerned by ‘perfect’ but do something and build upon it!
Focus on the things you do NOW and SMALL.
Question the ‘need’ to have meat once a day. Save the money you would have spent on buying meat every day and swap it to eat meat twice a week and buy local produce with a short supply chain.
How do you think technology can play a role in helping us to live more responsibly?
It has the potential to play a huge role! There is so much innovation happening, and will happen that will help.
- Carbon capture technology will be absolutely vital!
- Packaging innovation and the circular economy.
- The role of Zoom and working remotely has helped immensely as we don’t have to fly and drive everywhere.
- The power of social media provides a platform for people to challenge and create change. Social media enables us to ask companies you’re buying from questions about their production and packaging.
Another great episode for the books! We loved chatting with Kate and if you are keen to be a part of our podcast, please do shout us a holla.
You can listen to the episode in its entirety here: