VIP Speaker Series: Bart Houlahan | Summary and Q&A

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January 26, 2015
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Stanford
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VIP Speaker Series: Bart Houlahan

TL;DR

B Lab is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and certifying businesses that use capitalism for positive social and environmental change.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What does B Lab do to support entrepreneurs using business for social and environmental change?

B Lab certifies and supports B Corps, businesses that meet higher standards for social and environmental performance. They also provide analytics and data platforms to drive funding towards impact investments. Additionally, they advocate for benefit corporations, a new legally recognized corporate form that enables companies to create both shareholder and social value.

Q: How does B Lab ensure the social and environmental performance of certified B Corps?

B Lab uses a rigorous assessment called the B Impact Assessment, which evaluates companies based on their impact in governance, workers, community, and the environment. B Corps are required to rewrite their corporate governing documents to include consideration of stakeholders beyond shareholders.

Q: How does B Lab address the challenges of measuring impact for B Corps?

B Lab recognizes the difficulty in measuring impact and strives to provide a roadmap for companies to improve their social and environmental performance. The B Impact Assessment serves as a tool for companies to track their progress, understand areas for improvement, and set goals for future impact.

Q: How does B Lab engage larger corporations that might be resistant to change?

B Lab recognizes that engaging larger corporations can be challenging. They have found success by working through subsidiaries and supply chain initiatives. Additionally, they highlight the financial benefits and long-term value creation that come with considering all stakeholders, attracting and retaining talent, and gaining consumer loyalty.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • B Lab is a non-profit organization that drives systemic change through three initiatives: certifying B Corps, providing data-driven analytics, and promoting benefit corporations.

  • B Labs focuses on creating an environment in which employees are treated well, factories have strong codes of conduct, and businesses give back to the community and the environment.

  • Bart Houlihan, one of the co-founders of B Lab, shares his journey from running a for-profit company to leading a non-profit that aims to change the way business is done.

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