Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

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By: Callie Yow

Beginnings of the B Corp Ideal

The B Corporation movement is possible because of the ambition of companies to use their business as a force for good and as a method of turning societal ideals into action. 

Consider outspoken brands like Ben and Jerry’s and Patagonia. Since 1978 Ben and Jerry’s has utilized their marketing strategy to advance social responsibility. As a result, Ben and Jerry’s stands out on the shelf and during pivotal social movements. Similarly, Patagonia has engaged in ingenuous business practices and proactive community minded programs to contribute to an equitable and inclusive environment both in the store and in society since 1973.  

In 2006, the B Corporation movement was founded to challenge outdated business models prioritizing shareholder value instead of equitable practices for stakeholders. The B Corporation certification recognizes long-term planning and purpose as equally important to profit. This distinction offers a foundation on which businesses can identify, assess, and improve their operations to drive greater positive impact. 

What is a B Corp?

On its website, B Corporation describes the movement as follows: “By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.” 

Figure 1: Source: bcorporation.net

Certified B Corporations are companies that have met strict requirements in five focus areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. Companies are evaluated by B Lab and given a score between 0 and 200. To become a certified B Corp, the company must score a minimum of 80 points. The B Corp movement creates a collaborative space for brands to collectively build a community from shared value in the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.

Both B Corps and benefit corporations offer more transparent practices, but they are not the same. On one hand, the B Corporation Certification is a third-party certification administered by B Lab based on a company’s performance using the impact assessment tool. On the other hand, benefit corporations are legal structures for a business with legal accountability or interest to pursue positive stakeholder engagement. 

The B Impact Assessment 

The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is a free tool available to anyone interested in gaging their company’s impact before committing to the certification process. This assessment tool provides a standardized framework for measuring impact on stakeholders, allowing businesses to better understand their social and environmental performance in clear terms. 

Pursuing the B Corp certification is a forward-looking step toward improved corporate social responsibility and elevates processes within your business model while highlighting brand purpose. Becoming certified does expose your business in areas where improvement may be needed. This exposure accredits your company as transparent and customer focused. Just make sure you can address and improve upon those blind spots realized through the assessment. 

Reasons to Certify and Some Considerations

Certification as a B Corporation differentiates a business from its competitors and provides numerous benefits including: allowing relationship building, attracting like-minded talent searching for socially conscious companies, amplifying the brand voice, and improving overall measurable impact.  

Despite the many positives that come from joining this community driven by purpose and integrity, there is associated risk. B Lab requires a rigorous process in which companies must provide proof of their organization’s operations and an annual fee is required to keep the certification active. This cost is calculated based on the company’s annual sales and may exclude smaller companies with a lower budget or fewer employees.

Further, while certification is a great way to improve accountability, it can also be a stressful process that makes it difficult for a business to correctly quantify their impact while answering the questionnaire.. There is not a grayscale, which can be either a positive or a negative depending on your company’s processes.

The B Corp certification is the only holistic review of a company’s performance and may be worth the intensive certification process. Consider how the certification would improve your business, most importantly how you would build upon your current mission statement to achieve your company goals.

The Future of B Corp

The B Corp certification is more than just a credential— it is a movement that challenges businesses to be a force for good through purpose-driven actions that create positive change. Customers can support companies, (such as Seventh Generation, King Arthur Flour, and New Belgium Brewing),  that are prioritizing positive social, economic, and environmental impact by using B Corporation’s search function.

Since B Corporation’s founding in 2006, over 3,800 companies across 150 industries have joined this community. It is incredibly encouraging to see brands from all over the world engaging in conversations that place people and planet ahead of profit so we may collectively grow to new models focused in addressing the triple bottom line. 

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Callie has a strong appreciation for the natural world and combines her passions for writing, relationship building, and environmental justice to advocate for better management of materials in her personal and professional life. She currently manages corporate relations at a nonprofit that plans and operates paint stewardship programs to keep paint out of the waste stream.

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By: Sarah Marin

Every tenth year ending in zero, the U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be taken. This once-in-a-decade count works to collect statistical data of the lives of more than 331 million Americans to create a clearer picture of where, who, and how we live. While these population counts directly affect how District of Columbia Ward and ANC boundaries are drawn and how the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are apportioned, it will also determine how more than $1 trillion in federal spending will be allocated towards states and localities, and thus plays a critical role in health and environmental justice in our communities.

The deadline to complete the Census is soon approaching and is set to close October 31, 2020. With a population of just over 705,000 in 2019, (a 19% jump from the approximately 605,000 counted in the 2010 Census,) federal dollars flowing to the District will continue to rise. According to the DC Policy Center, the District of Columbia has received approximately $6 billion every year following the 2010 census. The funds allocated through the census over the past decade have supported more than 55 programs that directly and indirectly impact every resident of the District including: Medicaid, the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), Section 8 and public housing assistance, highway and road construction, community facilities development and critical wildlife, environmental, and public health programs to name just a few. 

With so much at stake in the 2020 Census, it is crucial that every District of Columbia resident is counted. The good news is, as of October 12, 2020, D.C.’s enumerated percentage of housing units counted was 99.9%; however, self-reporting counts and count concerns for the city’s homeless population continue to underscore long-standing disparities in representation, environmental justice, and access to services for those who rely on them the most.

DC currently ranks 34th in “self-response rates,” with only 63.5% of households self-reporting. Notably, the census tracts in the northwest areas of the City have self-reporting rates far outpacing the areas to the southeast. For instance, the census tract with the highest self-reporting is Tract 10.03 in NW (Ward 3) with a rate of 90.5% and 84.1% reporting by internet for the first time. This rate is more than 60% higher than the tracts with the lowest self-reporting; at 25.7% self reporting with only 21.8% by internet in Tract 23.02 in NE (Ward 5) and 28.6% self-reporting with 17.9% by internet in Tract 74.01 in SE (Ward 8).

Interestingly, yet unsurprisingly, these low reporting tracts have some of the highest poverty rates in the city. While the average rate of poverty across the District is 13.5%, Tracts 23.02 and 74.01 have 18.3% and 70% of their populations living below the poverty line, respectively. These tracts are also located in some of the most environmentally unjust areas of the city, with Tract 74.01 adjacent to the Navy Yard toxic waste site and Tract 23.02 in close proximity to one of the city’s five trash transfer stations, the Fort Totten Transfer Station.

While just a few small examples, these figures directly highlight bleak patterns in access and equity for DC’s marginalized communities who may have limited access to internet or phone services or lack permanent housing. Community membership includes people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, people with limited English, and other marginalized groups traditionally undercounted. It is our responsibility to make sure that every D.C. resident is counted to help close these longstanding gaps that make the need for funds apportioned through the Census more important than ever!

UPDATE (as of 10/20): The Trump Administration closed the 2020 Census on 10/15/2020. However, DC EcoWomen felt the content of this blog was still vital and deserved to be shared with the community.

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Sarah Marin is an Associate and Client Services Manager at Sustainable Strategies DC and a recent graduate of the George Washington University, where she studied International Affairs with concentrations in Environmental Studies and Public Health. Sarah is passionate about developing equitable and sustainable cities that support vibrant communities and a thriving, healthy planet for all.