Tackling the global challenges we face — from the climate crisis to populist unrest to rising inequality — requires us as business leaders to do more. Much more. Doing less harm, or even no harm, is no longer enough. More than ever, we need an economy that works for everyone and restores the planet. We need an inclusive and regenerative economy that creates a shared and durable prosperity for all, including the natural world on which all life depends.
To make this shift requires a dramatic change from our current mode of thinking on the responsibility of business. B Lab co-founder Jay Coen Gilbert writes:
“The modern exploiter mindset has led us to the brink of simultaneous and interrelated crises of environmental disaster, social dislocation and political dysfunction. These ‘non-business’ issues are important for business leaders because there is no healthy business in an unhealthy society.
There are three things we need to know about this exploiter mindset:
- This mindset poses an existential threat to life on Earth as we know it.
- Almost everyone — from student activists to central bankers — now believes this to be true.
- As a result, this exploiter mindset has now reached its limit.
However, movement-builders know that widespread recognition that the system is broken does not automatically catalyze a new system. To create a new system, we need a viable alternative.”
Coen Gilbert refers to agricultural essayist Wendell Berry in proposing a nurturer mindset, one that Certified B Corporations are already embracing. This mindset insists that the goals of a healthy business must include all stakeholders, rejecting shareholder primacy and leaning into a future where businesses work with communities, employees and nature to do good in the world.
A nurturer mindset forms the base of an inclusive and regenerative economy that B Corps are building alongside other purpose-minded organizations. Our community of business leaders is finding ways to bring all voices to the table with equal volume, to understand when to step back so that others may step up, to create processes that sequester carbon instead of release more, and to take the time to research and measure what matters to make impactful changes.
An inclusive and regenerative economy creates opportunities for people of all backgrounds and experiences to live with dignity, support themselves and their families, and make a contribution to their communities. It also considers the natural world as a stakeholder at the table — one that must be treated with respect and strengthened for the future. It is an economy that doesn’t just work to reduce its negative impact but creates value for all life and the environment on which all life depends.
Upon certification, all B Corps sign a Declaration of Interdependence that includes agreeing that “we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.” By signing on to this statement, B Corps have agreed to work together as a community to build an inclusive and regenerative economy. For us to realize both aspects of this shared vision for the future of business, we must create stronger connections that benefit all people. By approaching this work with a nurturer mindset, we set the framework for how we can move forward, together.
By pursuing a more inclusive economy, B Corps create more diverse work environments that nurture social and organizational innovation. By pursuing a regenerative economy, B Corps use nature as a model to create ripple effects that improve the communities around us and provide a sustainable future for our planet.
This article was originally published by B Lab.