Adopting Social Sustainability Can Help Businesses
As consumers increase their scrutiny of the companies they buy from, many businesses are facing a critical junction regarding their purpose and role in society. Social sustainability offers a new way forward that can benefit shareholders while also helping society.
"Social sustainability" in business is about assessing impacts to people. As opposed to environmental sustainability, the goal of social sustainability is to identify and manage the effects of business, both positive and negative, on humans. It is less understood, because it hasn't been contemplated as long as its environmental counterpart, but it is quickly being recognized as equally important.
5 principles to achieve social sustainability, as determined by the findings of a group of researchers in Sweden who set out to understand the conditions that can degrade social systems, preventing social sustainability from succeeding.
Directly or indirectly, companies affect what happens to employees, suppliers, customers, and local communities. Social sustainability is the idea that these impacts must be managed in a way that preserves, if not improves, the social fabric. The United Nations defines sustainability generally as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Applying this to social sustainability specifically means the creation of healthy and livable communities, ones that respect the following five principles: quality of life, equality, diversity, social cohesion, and governance. Many global, respected institutions and individuals now recognize the importance of social sustainability, and countless numbers of them are talking about it. For example, Lila Karbassi, Programs Chief at the UN Global Compact, states that "Businesses’ social license to operate depends greatly on their social sustainability efforts." Similarly, Adrian Henriques, author of "Corporate Impact – Measuring and Managing your Social Footprint," writes that, “Social impact includes anything that affects company-stakeholder relationships: from how much and how reliably suppliers are paid, to how a product affects lives. From how small shareholders may be treated to the impact of alcohol on health and communities.” Along the same lines, Lisa Geason-Bauer, CEO and Founder of sustainability consulting firm Evolution Marketing, says, "Sustainability in business can take many forms, but what they all have in common is the drive to achieve more than just financial gain." Although social sustainability hasn't been around as long as its environmental cousin, it clearly has similar depth and importance.
Yet, corporations have historically been driven by profitability. This is not unexpected, in part because of the widespread adoption of Milton Friedman’s shareholder theory, which states, “there is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.” In other words, he made the bottom line everyone's focus.
Workers piling up money to build the wealth of business owners.
Milton Friedman was a world-famous economist who lived primarily during the last century. Although he made tremendous contributions to the University of Chicago's school of economics, one of his most impactful publications was an opinion piece he wrote for The New York Times in September 1970. The primary message of his article was that "the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits." Indeed, that was the very title of the article. Effectively, he was saying that businesses don't have social responsibility—or to the extent they do, that responsibility is absolved by simply making money. A 2013 article in The Washington Post explained that the 1970s was the ideal time for Friedman's school of thought to take root, because "globalization and deregulation...conspired to rob many major American corporations of the outsize profits they had earned during the 'golden' decades after World War II." The article, "How the Cult of Shareholder Value Wrecked American Business," explained that companies simply couldn’t make profits as easily as they had in the past, which led to a decline in corporate profitability and stock prices. What followed in the 1980s, according to the article, was that "companies with lagging stock prices found themselves targets for hostile takeovers by rivals or corporate raiders using newfangled 'junk' bonds to finance their purchases." This rude awakening—where well-financed adversaries were routinely taking over companies with depressed stock prices and firing management—rattled corporate executives everywhere. And so began a long trend of prioritizing share price, and therefore profitability, above all else. A whole ecosystem of support arose to cement this new philosophy and embed it into our economic system, according to the article. For example, business schools began to "indoctrinate students with the shareholder-first ideology and equip them with tools to manipulate quarterly earnings and short-term share prices" and corporate lawyers would back that up by "reflexively [advising] against any action that might lower the share price and invite shareholder lawsuits." And if that wasn't enough, Wall Street provided further encouragement by being "thoroughly fixated on quarterly earnings, quarterly investment returns and short-term trading" and of course, this was all "reinforced by gluttonous pay packages for top executives that are tied to the short-term performance of the company stock." It's no wonder that corporations have made profit their singular focus for so long. Influential people combined with a challenging economy set the stage for this powerful idea to become established, if not inseparable, from the very concept of business itself.
But corporate leaders today are recognizing that all stakeholders need to be served, not just shareholders. They're causing businesses to redefine their objectives and go beyond serving just owners. This includes repurposing everyday practices and business strategies in the interest of customers, employees, community, and investors.
In 2019, the Business Roundtable released a statement officially redefining the purpose of corporations to serve not only investors but also their workers and community. In other words, instead of just creating profit for shareholders, the statement added four additional purposes: delivering value to customers, investing in employees, dealing fairly and ethically with suppliers, and supporting local communities (including being environmentally sensitive and incorporating sustainability practices). This statement was signed by 181 CEOs and demonstrates the internal shift among the world’s leading corporations. Sustainability and social consciousness are no longer fads in business, but are now viewed as legitimate strategies that businesses can use to reduce risk and create opportunities. As they strive for positive impacts on all stakeholders rather than simply fulfilling financial responsibilities, some businesses are truly becoming a force for good. "Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term," said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of the Business Roundtable. "These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.” Another example is the transition companies are making to become benefit corporations, instead of traditional corporations. A 2020 article by B The Change, explains that the "benefit corporation model is gaining new momentum during this time of global uncertainty and social upheaval" and cites Lemonade, an insurance tech startup, as an example of a benefit corporation that went public in 2020. And Lemonade was not the first benefit company to have an IPO, Laureate, also a benefit corporation, went public in 2017. Clearly, the way leaders view the role of companies in society is shifting. Instead of just aiming to please shareholders, a broader group of stakeholders is being respected—it seems that expanding a company's purpose is something that leaders are ready to embrace.
Consumers are also demanding that companies address social sustainability, and it's getting results. Gen Z'ers and millennials especially want to see that the businesses they purchase from are interested in improving people's lives, too. And one company after the next is responding, demonstrating their commitment with their statements, programs, marketing, and even corporate structure, resulting in a marriage of customer approval and company profit.
Kris Lin-Bronner, Strategic Adviser for Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, and others discuss the wide-scale erosion of trust between companies and consumers.
Companies are increasingly expected to take an active role in solving social problems. Indeed, consumers are becoming more aware of how businesses treat their workers, their actions on racial injustice, and what role they play in assisting underserved communities. In other words, people are concerned about the lack of compassion that many companies have exhibited, and are seeking out businesses that demonstrate a greater interest in solving social problems.
On April 14, 2021, a statement from 500 companies and CEOs was published supporting voting rights for Americans. The timing was not-coincidentally based on the ongoing efforts to gerrymander districts that had been taking place since Republicans lost the 2020 presidential election. With the apparent structural rigging of US democracy taking place, these high-profile leaders felt obligated to organize and speak as one. This statement on social justice by such a large number of prominent leaders and major brands was unprecedented. For so many corporate voices to take a stand on a controversial, political issue would ordinarily be risky, but they obviously felt that silence was not an option. And given that the gerrymandering wasn't happening by itself—many Republicans were behind it and defending it—speaking against it took a certain bravery that hasn't always been present in corporate America. It is undeniable that a shift is taking place in the way consumers view corporate leaders and brands. There is, increasingly, an expectation that companies will speak up about social issues and take a stand. Consumers now anticipate that CEOs and brands will engage in the discussion on social problems. For millennials and Gen-Z in particular, this is becoming non-negotiable. And the data bears that out. A recent study by the consultancy firm Porter Novelli found that 66 percent of the current, younger generation of so-called Gen Z'ers—those born from 1997–2012—"believe it is no longer acceptable for companies to be silent on social justice issues." And a whopping 72 percent of Gen Z'ers "believe companies have more responsibility than ever before to address social justice issues." The Porter Novelli study specifically found that Gen Z'ers expect companies to "recognize their role in systemic racism" (71%), will "cancel brands that are not willing to address racial inequity" (45%), and expect to "see themselves represented in a company’s marketing and communications" (56%). They're also willing to use the internet for enforcement and "think social media gives their generation more of a voice than previous generations" (81%) and are even willing to "use [their] social media channels to call out brands they feel are not being authentic" (48%). Another study from The Georgetown University Center for Social Impact Communication found the same to be true for millennials—those born from 1981–1996. This generation accounts for some $1 trillion in annual consumer spending—and for them, the social responsibility of companies is top of mind. Some 81 percent said they "expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.” And 73 percent were even willing to pay more for sustainable products. As the authors of the Georgetown study wrote, "[b]y almost any measure, millennials place a premium on corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts." Clearly, the threat from younger and middle-aged Americans is real—if corporations are worried, it's because they should be.
And businesses are responding by making social change part of their business model. They're coming up with programs that are good for society. And they're making those programs impactful and highly visible, so that the public is aware of the effort being made.
A Trane Technologies video explains the company's various commitments to social sustainability.
Trane Technologies is a company that has practically made its brand about sustainability, with a huge emphasis on the social component. The company has a dedicated webpage to sustainability where they commit, as of the time of this writing, to "achieve workforce diversity reflective of our communities, gender parity in leadership roles, and create pathways to green and STEM careers." Proving their seriousness, they cite that 22% of leadership positions in the company are held by women, they have spent $11 million on "philanthropic giving which includes donations from [their] foundation, in-kind giving, employee fundraising," and they have made an 11% increase in spending "on diverse-owned businesses in 2020." Another example of a company embracing social sustainability was when, one day in October 2005, Whole Foods funded the Whole Planet Foundation, donating 5% of its nationwide store sales from that day. The foundation is “dedicated to poverty alleviation,” aiming to “empower the world’s poorest people with microcredit in places where Whole Foods Market sources products,” according to its website. As of September 2020, it had authorized $101 million in micro-loans to micro-entrepreneurs and their family members. Similarly, Whole Foods created the Whole Kids Foundation, which “since 2011, [has] provided over 8.2 million kids with opportunities to connect with nature and food through our grants and programs,” according to its website. Along the same lines, their Whole Cities Foundation, founded in 2014, aims to “improve individual and community health through collaborative partnerships, education, and broader access to nutritious food.” Whole Foods is just one example of companies realizing that behaving as if they have a responsibility to society is attractive to consumers. Indeed, it’s known as “corporate social responsibility,” or “CSR.” And as far back as 2007, it was recognized as a potential aid to a company’s image. Specifically, an article by the Society for Human Resource Management explained that “being an ethical, socially responsible company can attract investors, customers and top talent.” Even companies that might not have ongoing programs have made visible efforts during times of crisis. For example, in 2020, USA Today compiled a list of 30 companies that were aiding Americans in the global COVID-19 pandemic. Major corporations like Apple, Amazon, and 3M as well as lesser-known ones like Beyond Meat, Casetify and Fanatics all found ways to contribute. They did things like pledge food, donate masks, give to COVID-19 aid organizations, and give special services to health care workers and first responders. Another way companies have shown their interest in addressing social issues is through criminal justice reform. The NBA Milwaukee Bucks, for instance, partnered with Represent Justice to host a basketball game in 2019 at a correctional institute. The Bucks coaching staff played against incarcerated individuals, with players serving as coaches. Prior to the game, the Bucks team members, coaches, and executives, along with Represent Justice staff, had an hour-long conversation with the incarcerated individuals. The event drew attention to the issues surrounding mass incarceration, extreme sentencing, and legal system inequality. It’s clear that companies are taking social responsibility seriously. They’re organizing programs and interacting with local governments and non-profits in the communities in which they're headquartered in order to work together to address social problems. One might wonder how many more companies could capitalize on the opportunity to show their passion for a better society.
It's also interesting that sustainability is now measured differently. From its inception over a century ago, sustainability strictly referred to the environmental impacts of business. That is no longer the case. Today, the definition of sustainability has been broadened to include a more holistic approach that is based on creating equitable systems that deliver positive social, environmental, and economic benefits to all stakeholders.
An illustration of sustainability incorporating the economy, environment, and society.
For eons, the business world's sustainability efforts were measured only in terms of environmental impact. The dawn of this era roughly 130 years ago was based on concerns about the viability of the planet. In other words, the focus was on the protection and preservation of earth, its resources, species, beauty, cleanliness, and habitability.
New York City under smog in 1949, when weather conditions prevented smoke from dispersing. View from the Empire State Building includes the Lincoln Building and RCA Building.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, founded in 1889, was perhaps the first significant, environmental sustainability-focused organization in the world. Its founder, Emily Williamson, was concerned about the hunting of birds for their plumes, which were then used as fashion accessories in women's outfits. This was causing various species to approach extinction. The members of the RSPB were required to do two things: "discourage the wanton destruction of birds, and interest themselves generally in their protection" and "refrain from wearing the feathers of any bird not killed for purposes of food, the ostrich only excepted." For the next century and longer, all number of environmental sustainability efforts were made. From the establishment of Yosemite as a national park in 1890, to the creation of the National Park Service in 1916, concerns over preserving America's beautiful spaces and plentiful species were being addressed through private and public organizations. As of 2020, the NPS uses its $4 billion annual budget to look after 63 national parks and another roughly 360 national monuments, sites, preservations, recreational areas, rivers, reserves, trails, and so on. In the 1960s, with the seminal book, Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, environmental sustainability expanded to include concerns about the poisoning of the environment through toxins and other pollutants. Carson commenced work on her book after a friend of hers, Olga Owens Huckins, wrote to her describing the death of birds around her property in Duxbury, Massachusetts, resulting from the aerial spraying of DDT to kill mosquitoes. Carson's book was aggressively opposed by chemical companies like American Cyanamid, whose biochemists argued that if Carson's ideas were followed, "insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth," and Monsanto, which issued 5,000 copies of a pamphlet that "projected a world of famine and disease caused by banning pesticides." But despite this opposition, Silent Spring began a groundswell of public concern about corporate behavior that ultimately lead to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, and a new era of regulation and oversight of chemical and industrial companies. At that time, the EPA established itself as the leading protector of the environment—or certainly the one with the most authority over American businesses. Since its formation, it has focused primarily on air quality and radiation; water quality; land, waste and cleanup; chemicals and toxins; and enforcement of its rules regarding these areas. And it has been busy. Starting with the passing of the Clean Air Act in 1963, and then the Clean Water Act in 1972, both considered the United States' first and most influential modern environmental laws, the EPA has monitored and regulated how businesses interact with the environment. This includes preventing businesses from polluting as well as protecting local animals and land. Without regulations, companies would be more lackadaisical, turning to cheaper methods of operating that are damaging to the natural world. Clearly, the first century-plus of sustainability focused on the environment. And it's no wonder—there was a lot of concerning activity to address.
But that has changed—today, sustainability is measured in terms of the triple bottom line. This consists of people, planet and profit. It brings a multi-dimensional view to what was previously just a profit-focus.
Lisa Geason-Bauer, Founder of Evolution Marketing in Nashotah, Wisconsin, discusses companies adopting Triple Bottom Lines and becoming certified "B-Corps," with Dr. Patrick Hillberg from Oakland University.
In 1981, Freer Spreckley, an international development consultant, wrote a book that would pave the way to today's sustainability movement: "Social Audit: A Management Tool for Co-operative Working." In it, Spreckley argued that businesses should "measure and report on financial performance, social wealth creation and environmental responsibility." Put another way, he was stating that companies should have two additional considerations besides profit: people and planet. Slightly over a decade later, in 1994, social entrepreneur John Elkington, echoing Spreckley's idea, coined the term "triple bottom line." His phrase encompassed the same three prongs that Spreckley identified: social equity, the environment, and economics. Elkington hoped that his new catchphrase would cause a fundamental shift in the relationship between entrepreneurs, stakeholders, and the communities in which they operate. After decades of percolating, the triple bottom line (TBL) is now, finally accepted as the framework for sustainability. Indeed, the United Nations defines sustainable development as “harmonizing three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection.” Notice that these are the same as people, profit, and planet, just in a slightly different order. The UN further describes sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," cementing the meaning of sustainability as a continuous, viable, renewable path for humankind. A more comprehensive approach to preserving humankind's future is finally here. The triple bottom line covers all the bases—and it's charting the course for businesses to follow.
And when it comes to incorporating social sustainability into a business, thankfully, it is available in many forms. It can be implemented through social programs that are outside of a business's normal operations, or it can be baked into the company's structure, either through one of the new state registration-types or through third-party certification, such as B Labs' Certified B Corporation®. But whichever way it is done, it indicates a desire to address social issues.
A video by Project Everyone outlining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations in 2015.
Businesses can implement social sustainability simply by creating programs. This can accomplish a variety of goals—social, environmental, or both—that are outside the company's usual business-model. These programs are often characterized as "corporate social responsibility," or they can be more specific and target the U.N.'s formal list of "sustainable development goals," but regardless, they all have the goal of contributing to the greater good, rather than just generating profit.
An illustration proposing the elements of social responsibility/sustainability.
“Corporate social responsibility” (CSR) is the umbrella term for company actions motivated by the desire to help and give back. Simply put, these are sustainability programs that companies think up and execute as they see fit. Thus, on the one hand, CSRs don't come with clear guidance for determining the validity or true impact of the programs derived under this concept, on the other hand, the idea is obviously to accomplish good. From initiatives that aim to reduce an organization’s carbon footprint or improve work conditions for employees, to simple goods- or financial aid-based activities, CSRs enable organizations to help in a multitude of ways. Put another way, CSRs give businesses an outlet for addressing some of the world's most pressing issues. Some examples can be found in the largest and most profitable corporations operating today. For instance, Johnson & Johnson has a CSR program to secure 35% of their energy usage from renewable sources. In terms of social and economic justice, Spotify offers 24 weeks of parental leave, and Netflix offers up to 52 weeks. And when it comes to diversity, Starbucks has pledged to hire 25,000 veterans and 10,000 refugees by 2022. Yet, CSRs represent a somewhat vague overall construct, and whether programs that are characterized as CSRs are in fact addressing the most urgent sustainability issues can be unclear. Thus, to bring accountability to the CSR movement, the United Nations in 2015 issued a specific list of CSR-oriented targets called "sustainable development goals" (SDGs). These are 17 goals, including ending poverty, reducing inequality, and providing clean water and sanitation for everyone, and according to Corporate Knights, a prominent sustainable business publication, SDGs have “quickly become a common language.” In an article by Dave Klar titled “50+ Real World Examples of Private Sector SDG Leadership,” the publication says that SDGs are causing “sustainability leadership in the private sector [to evolve] from sustainability reporting to targeted responsible action.” In other words, SDGs are focusing companies on the most urgent sustainability issues. And there are countless examples. For instance, GROSCHE, a coffee and tea producer, is working to provide clean water where it is unavailable. Similarly, Goldcorp, a gold producer, is replacing its diesel vehicles with electric vehicles that are both better for the environment and safer for its workers. There are an almost infinite number of examples of companies addressing sustainability through solar-based, wind-based, food, health and well-being, and responsible consumption SDG-based efforts. Based on the UN’s vast reach and research, SDGs offer any company a wide range of social sustainability causes to take up. Between them and CSRs more broadly, executives seem to have all the options they need to try and make a positive impact.
The other way businesses can go about helping with social sustainability is by implementing it at the entity level. Whether by becoming a Benefit Corporation and/or a Certified B Corporation®, or one of the other options available (e.g., social enterprise structures), social sustainability can be baked into the very structure of a company. Using one of these measures makes it especially clear to customers that social sustainability is part of the company's purpose.
A conservation and trails crew organized by Cream City Conservation Corps, a social enterprise, collects firewood for sugar maple harvesting at Neighborhood House Nature Center in Neosha, Wisconsin.
"Social enterprise" is the term that describes a company that is implementing sustainability at the entity level. There are many things a company can do in order for it to be identified as a social enterprise, but what they all have in common is a focus on sustainability—either environmental, social, or both. In the same grain of purpose and profit being inseparable, social enterprises seek to maximize profits while also maximizing social benefit, usually by using profits generated to fund socially responsible endeavors.
Organizations can contribute to social sustainability by developing businesses with the dual motive of making money and contributing to social change. Social enterprises, as they are called, deal with an environmental or social problem through a “market driven approach,” the Social Enterprise Alliance says. Through their product, employment opportunities, philanthropic work or other business practices, these organizations address a problem while also seeking to make profit. As the idea of a social enterprise has generated more and more buzz over the years, the definition of the term social enterprises keeps evolving. An article on B the Change noted that at its core, an organization should commit to a social or environmental cause to be a social enterprise. Once it does, there are a few ways it can go about it -- through its business activity, fundamental/legal paperwork, a side-project or philanthropy. While there is no consensus on the definition of the term social enterprise, as the article said, that has paved the way for the term to be flexible, consisting of a myriad of business models, including those like public benefit corporations, Certified B Corps, etc. In its generous definition, social enterprises, today, also include nonprofits with a revenue-generating model like Girl Scouts of America. In a more traditional sense, for-profit organizations, like Goodwill, which emphasize on making profit by fulfilling a social mission, make the cut for a social enterprise. Apart from being a one-stop-shop for used personal and household products, Goodwill, since its inception, has provided employment opportunities to people for whom jobs are scarcely available. According to the Social Enterprise Alliance, in 2014, Goodwill created employment and job training opportunities for more than two million people while earning a revenue of $4.6 billion. Businesses that are driven by a profit-making primary activity and address social problems through their business practices, like helping out their employees, community, etc. are also a part of the social enterprise bubble. Companies like benefit corporations, which are legally registered with their states as such, and Certified B Corps, which are certified by the nonprofit B Lab U.S. and Canada, fall into this category. Then there are businesses which contribute to sustainability through their donations. Warby Parker, an online retailer for prescription glasses and sunglasses, has a “Buy A Pair, Give A Pair'' program. The program donates a pair of glasses for each pair bought. Addressing lack of access to eye-care and glasses across the world is one of its core missions. Although social enterprises already consist of different types of business models, there is no tapping this category. There are various types of organizational models: cooperatives, awareness brands, etc. that contribute to social sustainability in different ways, overlapping with already established structures in some ways and unique in some others. The overarching objective of any organization with a social purpose is to do good and help alleviate a social problem. As corporate conscience continues to develop and customers continue to demand more accountability from organizations, the space for different types of social enterprises, seems as it is going to continue to expand.
Another way is through the B Corporation certification process. As legally verified and publicly accountable businesses, a Certified B Corporation® (or B Corps as those of us in the movement like to refer to them as) must prove their sustainability record to maintain their status. B Corps can make a huge impact globally. And because they are audited by a third party and have to show continued improvements over time in order to maintain their status, they can't just make empty promises.
A short, 30-second video by B Labs explains the substance behind the B Corporation certification.
B Corporations, commonly referred to as just "B Corps," are businesses that have been certified by the non-profit company B Labs based on exacting standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. This certification causes B Corps to become legally bound to balance purpose and profit by considering the impact of business decisions on all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, customers, the environment, and community. To become certified, companies must conduct a comprehensive review of their sustainability profile using a template provided by B Labs known as the "B Impact Assessment." According to B Labs, this assessment is "designed to help measure and manage [a] company's positive impact on [its] workers, community, customers and environment." Companies must also take a further step of incorporating "specific mission-aligned language" into their governing documents, such as the articles of incorporation. Once certified, B Corps must re-certify every 3 years by updating their assessment, providing additional documentation to verify their answers, and achieving at least 80 out of 200 available assessment points. Additionally, to maintain the credibility of the B Corp seal, 10 percent of re-certifying B Corps are audited in the form of an in-depth site review. B Corps have proliferated since the first 82 were certified in 2007 There are now over 3,500 in over 70 countries. One example of a B Corp making a positive impact is Cora, which provides eco-friendly feminine hygiene products, increases access to feminine products in developing countries, advocates for female education, and speaks against taxing these types of products as non-essential goods. Since the company’s inception, Cora has donated over a million sanitary products to women in Kenya and India. It also has donated over 100,000 feminine products to women living below the poverty line in the United States. Evolution Marketing, a Wisconsin-based company focused on sustainability, marketing, and communications consulting, is another B Corp. In 2019, Evolution Marketing donated 2% of its sales to environmental non-profits, and another 0.5% of sales to Wisconsin-based, socially-oriented non-profits. Additionally, members of the staff donated 238 hours of time/services to Wisconsin-based non-profits and their environmental and social programming. The company also submits to additional third-party verification, such as a yearly certification by the non-profit organization 1% For the Planet. Other B Corps range from huge household names such as Danone North America and Ben & Jerry’s to local Wisconsin product makers such as Rebel Green, Zyn, Just Coffee Cooperative, and Tribe 9 Foods, demonstrating that this business model is both achievable and scalable. B Corps are arguably the business model of the future—one that modernizes the sustainability movement by getting private businesses to tackle important social issues.
Clearly, social sustainability helps businesses by benefiting not only stakeholders but employees and the communities they serve, too. It aligns the bottom line with social harmony, bringing new purpose, and profits, to companies.