Imagine a world where businesses actively compete, not to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world. This is actually a reality in a small segment of global businesses who have opted to become Certified B Corporations. Many businesses may claim that they are “doing good” either in the communities, for their workers or customers, in how they are governed, or for the environment. Yet there are only a handful that take the initiative to be audited by an impartial third party in order to solidify that assertion. Bodhi Surf + Yoga is gratified to be among the elite companies in the world who tirelessly work to drive progress in their respective industries. Moreover, for the second year in a row, we are excited to receive the “Best for the World” B Corp award in the Community category.
Best in the world: competition, deception, and decline
Historically, business has been associated with competition; that free-market capitalism could solve both social and environmental issues while at the same time serving the needs of customers and making the maximum amount of profit for its shareholders. Milton Friedman, an economist best known for his unwavering belief in free-market capitalism, said:
“There is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”
Yet, time and again, business has also been associated with “deception and fraud”, because it seems that when you combine cutthroat competition and unquenchable thirst for profit, it often results in less-than-honest practices, negative social consequences, and environmental degradation.
Now more than ever, consumers want the companies they support to take a stand and do something about the issues that they, the consumers, care about. This trend has been seized upon by many businesses, and one such “shady” practice has been for companies to overstate social and environmental corporate responsibility. This type of exaggeration or untruth has been enabled in part by lack of certification process and oversight. On the whole, it has had the effect of debasing the entire movement and disappointing the consumer — consider the VW “clean diesel” scandal, one of the most high level cases of “deception or fraud” in recent years. While traditional free-market capitalism had its time, there are many of us who believe that it is time to try something new. We welcome in the era of companies voluntarily committing to working together, being better, and doing more in order to take on the issues that will affect us all.
Best for the world: interdependence, integrity, and progress
The idea behind being the “best for the world” is both simple and sweet: that businesses work together (both within and across industry) to create excellent products and/or services and simultaneously take on issues (both local and global), as well as to create benefit for all stakeholders (not just shareholders). While critics may state that this is an overly-earnest, altruistic, and naive way to run a business, those of us who are actually doing it (and seeing the positive results) disagree. From where we sit, running the type of business that would be eligible for B Corporation certification is good for everyone: our communities, workers, consumers, the environment, and us — and yes, that includes our bottom line, as well.
The fact of the matter is that the world is changing. Issues that we once collectively tried to ignore or sweep under the rug are looming so large that we, resigned, are accepting the reality and starting to take action. Consumers are dollar-voting for companies that not only care, but that take action. Businesses are incorporating better practices: such as changing their very governance structure, how they treat their workers, making their communities more equitable for all, and mitigating their environmental impact, to name a few. Moreover, they are voluntarily undergoing certification processes like B Corp or are becoming Benefit Corporations to solidify their mission and making sure that it endures. Perhaps these businesses are capitalizing on this changing landscape, wanting to distinguish themselves. Or more likely, these businesses are seeing our current situation (as human beings on this planet) as an opportunity to rise to the occasion and move past the notion of competition for profit, and move towards the holistic concept of using business as a force for good.
Bodhi Surf + Yoga, a 2018 “Best for the World” honoree
Every year, B Lab — the impartial third party nonprofit that certifies B Corporations — honors the companies who score in the top 10% of each category (Community, Customers, Environment, Governance, Workers, as well as Overall) with their “Best for the World” accolade. We were excited to receive it in 2017 — our first full year being a B Corp — and we are excited to have been notified that we received it again for 2018. While there are nearly one thousand companies from 52 countries, Bodhi is one of only two companies in Costa Rica (along with our friends at Pucci) and one of five in Central America to receive this honor. While the movement is still small in our region of the world, it is growing, and we are excited to at the forefront to witness this groundswell.
Bodhi Surf + Yoga received this honor for our work that falls in the Community category. What does this mean? From B the Change, the official B Corp publication:
“More companies have begun to build in philanthropic and other giveback initiatives into their business operations. But Best For The World: Community honorees have built caring for the community into their business models.”
The march goes on
While we are indeed very proud of our work, we are actually most excited to capitalize on the momentum of this type of distinction to continue to do more, do better, and work together with our fellow B Corps. At present, we are working on several initiatives:
- Becoming carbon neutral with the help of B Corp company Native Energy
- Uniting our community of customers (past, present, and future) to become responsible stewards of the environment with the help of an app which is being designed by B Corp MilkCrate
- Holding our 6th Annual Ocean Guardian Contest in the fall, hopefully with some the help of some of our past B Corp sponsors such as Indosole, Klean Kanteen, Patagonia, and United by Blue
As you can see, we are finding it so rewarding to collaborate with our fellow B Corp companies, proving once again that, at least in this movement, we are post-competition 🙂
Fore more information, read B Lab’s official press release here.