Aaron Perry


Y On Earth - Podcast Cover
Stewardship & Sustainability Series
Episode 148 - Jorge Fontanez, CEO, B-Lab USA & Canada

B-Certified and Be the Change

Jorge Fontanez, Chief Executive Officer of B Lab USA & Canada, discusses the tremendous progress and impact occurring through the growing global community of B-Certified businesses. B Lab administers one of the most robust and comprehensive assessment frameworks for mission-driven businesses that conduct themselves with their environmental, social, and governance impacts at the fore of their decision making. Assessed in a framework that includes impacts across five stakeholder groups (employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, and planet Earth), over 7,000 companies world-wide are currently B-Certified, and many more companies are in the process of B Lab’s self-assessment and/or working toward certification. Over 250,000 companies have taken B Lab’s B-Impact Assessment self-assessment survey (https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us/programs-and-tools/b-impact-assessment/).

In this special community of business leaders, B Lab works to help change organizational cultures which then facilitates systemic change. As Jorge tells us, “Our planet will not survive business models that are extractive and exploitative,” and emphasizes that those companies deepening their strategic commitments to environmental and social performance tend also to enhance their competitive advantage in the marketplace – especially as growing numbers of consumers recognize and select products based on the B-Certification credentials displayed on their packaging. And there are myriad service-providing B-Certified companies. From law firms to accounting firms to marketing agencies, the B-Lab ecosystem of businesses spans the gamut of industry and business sectors, and have self organized into 30 local/regional chapters and 30+ industry/identity-based networks.

In this special podcast episode, Jorge discusses several companies in the B-Certified ecosystem (Ben & Jerry’s, The Body Shop, Greyston Bakery, Unilever, and Danone (over 70% of its subsidiaries are certified). He also speaks about the push back against the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance performance measurement and disclosures) movement, and dispels some of the false narratives circulating in certain circles. Recognizing that over 50% of adults in the US and over 61% over Gen Z in particular recognize the B-Certified logo on product packaging, Jorge and the B-Lab community are scaling-up the impact-driven transformation of our economy toward healthier, happier, outcomes.  

About Jorge Fontanez

Hailing from Puerto Rico and Philadelphia, Jorge Fontanez, CEO of B-Lab USA/Canada, now resides in New York City where he leads the organization’s work on behalf of thousands of companies throughout North America and beyond. Previously, Jorge founded Marca Studio in 2015, a brand and marketing strategy consultancy, serving for-profit social enterprises and nonprofits alike.  He is a First Mover Fellow of The Business & Society Program at The Aspen Institute.  Jorge brings the mindset of an intrapreneur to his work, having dedicated his private sector career focused on stakeholder engagement at the intersection of marketing, technology, and sustainability.  His perspective on business as a driver for social change was formed by his experiences in leadership roles at Alcoa, Colgate-Palmolive, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Jorge received his MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University and a BSE from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Resources & Related Episodes

B Lab US & CAN: https://usca.bcorporation.net/ 

RE: Benefits of Certifying: https://usca.bcorporation.net/why-certify/ 

RE: Champions Retreat in Vancouver, Can (March 2024): https://usca.bcorporation.net/champions-retreat-2024/about/ 

RE: B Impact Self-Assessment: https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us/programs-and-tools/b-impact-assessment/

Episode 141 – Nathan Stuck, Founder, Profitable Purpose Consulting https://yonearth.org/podcast/episode-141-nathan-stuck-founder-profitable-purpose-consulting-on-b-certifications/

Episode 128 – Ruby Au, (former) Head of North America, Ecosia https://yonearth.org/podcast/episode-128-ruby-au-head-of-north-america-ecosia-search-engine/

Episode 115 – Brad “Lights Out” Lidge and Aaron Perry discuss Y on Earth & Aaron’s Viriditas Novel https://yonearth.org/podcast/episode-115-brad-lights-out-lidge-aaron-william-perry-re-viriditas-the-great-healing/

Episode 85 – Kate Williams, CEO, 1% for the Planet https://yonearth.org/podcast/episode-85-kate-williams-ceo-1-for-the-planet/

Episode 30 – Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis, MD, CEO, Craig Hospital https://yonearth.org/podcast/episode-30-dr-jandel-allen-davis-md/


(Automatically generated transcript for search engine optimization and reference purposes – grammatical and spelling errors may exist.)

Welcome to the YonEarth Community Podcast.

I’m your host, Aaron William Perry, and today we’re visiting with Jorge Fontanez, the

CEO of BLAB US and Canada, Jorge, how are you doing? It’s so great to be with you.

Hi, Aaron. I’m doing well. Thank you. Good to be with you.

Yeah, we’re really looking forward to having you on the show and having the opportunity

to speak with you about all of the amazing work you and your colleagues and thousands

of companies are engaged in right now.

I’m excited to be on your podcast, Aaron. It’s been some time. I know we’ve been talking

about it. So, yeah, I’m just glad to be here. You’ve had some amazing conversations today.

I’m glad to just be one of many.

Super, super. Jorge Fontanez is the chief executive officer of BLAB US and Canada, a global partner

of the nonprofit BLAB, commonly known for certifying for-profit companies trademark as B-CorpS,

due as a community are mobilizing to change the economic system to benefit all people

and the planet. He also founded Marcus Studio in 2015 of brand and marketing strategy consultancy, 

serving for-profit social enterprises and nonprofits. Jorge is a first-mover fellow of the business

and society program at the Aspen Institute. He brings the mindset of an entrepreneur to

his work, having dedicated his private sector career focused on stakeholder engagement

at the intersection of marketing, technology, and sustainability. His perspective on business

as a driver for social change was formed by his experiences in leadership roles at Alcoa,

Colgate-Paul Molliv, and JPMorgan Chasing Company. Jorge received his MBA from Stern and

a BSE from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Jorge, just because I don’t

know off the top of my head, and I imagine a few of our listeners may not, can you tell

us what is BSE? What does that stand for?

That’s our science and economics. Great, okay. Very cool. And so clearly, while you

have deep expertise in the realm of marketing, which I often like to think of as storytelling,

you’re also deep in the sort of hard disciplines we associate with business and economics. And

I want to kick things off by just asking you to tell us about what is this B-Lab B-Corp

thing? I know many of our audience are familiar, but I imagine there’s some folks out there,

maybe not quite as familiar as hopefully they will be after our conversation today.

Well, thanks, Aaron. Again, for having me, you started off quite well explaining making a really

important distinction, which is B-Lab is the nonprofit engine behind the certification that’s

most well known called B-Corp certification. And so as an organization, we’re part of a global

network. B-Lab US and Canada, which is the organization that I lead, is one of seven sister

organizations. And our vision and strategy are shared around the world. And it’s one common

vision, which is to create an economic system that benefits everyone as well as the planet.

Our vision of the future is to create that system, which is inclusive, equitable, and regenerative.

And we can celebrate today, actually, that in the US, but also in other regions of the world,

like in the UK, we’re seeing peak awareness levels of the B-Corp certification trademark after

17 years. In the US, 61% of Gen Z’s know what B-Corp is. They recognize the trademark. And over

50% of adults are also aware of the B-Corp trademark. The B in B-Corp stands for benefit.

Some people joke, you know, well, why not in A-Corp versus a B-Corp? So hopefully that simple

definition explains why. We are also celebrating a milestone because we have 7,000 and growing B-Corp

globally. We happen to be one of the largest B-Corp communities on the planet, which includes

the US, Canada, and now Puerto Rico, where I’m just returning from. And we have some exciting news

of what’s happening on the ground there. What I want to say also about B-Corp certification

is that it’s not just a badge of sustainability. It’s important to distinguish B-Corp certification

from other frameworks that are associated in the ecosystem of environmental social governance

that happen to be more about disclosure than about performance. And that’s probably where I’ll

land it, since you just asked one question about who we are. But it’s an important conversation

that I hope we’ll get into about how B-Corp’s are modeling change and also our proof points

of how business can do better and also be profitable at the same time.

I love also the connection between the letter B for B-Corp and the statement that there is no

planet B. And it’s very interesting. We’re going to talk a bit about this today. Some of the below

back and the strange, I would say, strange cultural resistance and animosity toward these efforts

to work in the interest and service to humanity and to our planet that we all share. But before

getting into that and recognizing there is no planet B, I want to kind of drill down into the

rigor of the certification process. I was part of a team that took a company through the

certification process about a decade ago. So I know it’s probably evolved quite a bit since then,

but even then the rigor was so profound and made us that much more proud of the accomplishment

of getting that company certified. Could you just walk us through what these various thousands

of companies have to go through and basically what they’re committing to and a demonstrating

performance around in order to have the certification? Yeah, so 10 years ago is interesting.

It’s interesting just to kind of focus on how much the organization and the standards have changed

in just a decade. I’ll start by saying that we’re on the seventh version of our standards and

we’re already working on what we call the evolution of our standards, which will be quite different

than the standard framework that we’ve been operating under for the last two decades essentially.

Also, we spent the last decade not only instituting a framework within companies to change

organizational practice worldwide, but we also established what’s called the legal requirement.

That shows up in the form of public-benefit corporation, which is a corporate alternative

to a C-Corp or an S-Corp in which B-Corp’s today are actually required either to become a public

benefit corporation or an equivalent by mending their charter depending on the jurisdiction.

And we’ve spent the last decade now getting legislation passed in over 40 states and

countries around the world in order to ensure that boards and managers of companies

must make decisions in alignment with stakeholders. Often, we hear the conversation in business

be about moving away from shareholder primacy to what we call a stakeholder-driven economy.

And in that vein, that is what a public-benefit corporation option does is it embeds the

mission, the commitment that businesses must have to make decisions to benefit those stakeholders.

I’m going to use that framework to also explain the certification. So the certification

or the framework of B-Corp certification is set up with five stakeholders in mind. That’s

employees, customers, shareholders as well, but also suppliers, and the planet.

And those five areas are what effectively make up the framework for B-Corp certification.

There are over 200 questions in the assessment. It’s available for free to an open-source tool.

And what’s also fascinating to learn when you think about the kinds of questions

that are asked in this assessment is that, you know, I mentioned there were 7,000 B-Corp

on the planet, but actually over 250,000 companies around the world have accessed

what we call the B-Infect Assessment, the BIA, which houses these questions. And so that’s

what it’s about. It is a tool effectively for companies to assess themselves in terms of the

impact that they have on those five stakeholders that I just mentioned. And the additional commitment

is that B-Corp’s, because they have to recertify every three years, they are continuously improving.

So our standards change, our requirements also increase. And by nature of that, we also expect

that B-Corp’s are improving their impact across those stakeholders.

You know, it’s so exciting. And I love thinking about geeking out a little bit on the economics

and sort of the business management, business practices side of this. You know, I think probably

a good number of folks out there have the impression that when companies make these sorts of

commitments and expand their stakeholder base to include many others well beyond the shareholder

capital class, I think there’s probably an assumption that in a lot of cases that means profitability

is reduced. Right. And I know I don’t have any specific recent studies or data off the top

in my head here, but I know that there is a whole lot of data indicating that companies making

these commitments actually tend to perform better financially. And I’m wondering if you can

speak to that a bit and help us kind of unpack that a little bit. Yeah. I mean, I think the one

stakeholder that’s most relevant, I mean, all the stakeholders are relevant. So let me just be

clear. But employees, you know, the people that run our organizations are our biggest asset

today. In today’s economy, when investors evaluate or value a company on, you know, on Wall Street,

when you think about publicly traded companies, what you’ll find is that 80% of the valuation of

a company is all caught up in intangibles. And that includes the very people that those companies

employ. And so right now, I think a way in to this conversation that is highly relevant for

any CEO today is how this premise of addressing environmental, social governance risks,

but also value creating opportunities and benefits their employees. Let me give you an example.

So we have a small, small, or becorp in our community called Grace and Bakery,

working very closely with a much larger multinational company,

Natura, that owns the body shop, a retailer. So just a bit of background. Grace and Bakery is

known for its brownies. And they are located in Yonkers, New York, and I’ve had a chance to visit

their facility there. I live in New York City. I’ve gotten opportunities to not only visit,

but get to know their CEO, Joe Kenner. And what’s really interesting about Grace and Bakery is

a couple of things, amongst many. One is their corporate structure. So they’re actually owned by

Grace and the Grace and Foundation. And their founder was really driven by the commitment

to create quality jobs and employment, particularly for formerly incarcerated people.

That’s still true as part of their mission today. And the way that they go about that has

expanded. The Brownie business has allowed them to scale their impacts in a really

interesting way. So they partner with other becorp’s like Ben and Jerry’s that supplies their

brownies for one of their more popular flavors. And that’s just the fun facts. But the impact

that they’re having is they’ve been able to grow their employee base through an open hiring

model. What that means is when Grace and has a job and they have someone that needs a job,

they give that job to that person. The idea of open hiring in many ways is quite radical because

it removes barriers of access to employment. It removes the need for background checks,

for credit scores, for references that commonly create barriers for many marginalized communities,

but in particular for those that are formerly incarcerated. So what have becorp’s like the

body shop learned from that process? What we have seen is that by adopting something like an

open hiring practice for the body shop that looked like reducing the barriers, not eliminating

them, but reducing the barriers, asking the question, how might we go about offering an open

hiring program and what benefits would that create for us? And what they found is that

not only were they able to eliminate credit scores and background checks in some instances,

I mean there’s an application process and I don’t have all the details. But what I know is that

when they looked to eliminate as many barriers as they could, they actually increased loyalty

amongst new hires and they reduced turnover. To me this is a prime example of how better business

practice leads to not only risk mitigation, but really value creation. And in this example,

once again, we’re seeing the impact looked like things that are intangible. The cost that I’m

not incurring by having to hire, you know, look for other people that I for jobs that I have open,

or the intangible value of what it means to have loyal employees that are not looking for another job

that then leads to efficiencies and new ideas. And so, you know, that’s one of the stories that

really continues to inspire me today about not only what an individual company can do to change

its practice, but what we find in the B Corp community is companies coming together to learn from

each other. And that’s that’s really the beauty of what we’ve created here.

Yeah, so it’s so powerful. And, you know, one of the things that I

having run small businesses and, you know, gone through the pain of having to replace somebody

after investing months and many dollars in training and onboarding and so forth, this attraction

and retention of talent is so important. And I am astonished that there are so many folks out there

in the business community who through this blowback thing that we’re seeing are essentially taking

a stance that is excluding entire sectors of not only the workforce, but also the consuming

public. And it surprises me just in terms of the near mid and long-term strategy of it all.

And it brings to mind for me, Jorge, not to get, you know, too far a field here from

B Labs current mission and everything you guys are working on right now today, but it reminds me

of being a student of history. Part of the reason that the fascist regimes in Europe ultimately

lost from what I understand is that there were whole classes of people that were disenfranchised

and obviously with the Holocaust and everything incredibly horrific treatment, but ultimately

because those people had safe havens in places like the United States where they could go to work.

To defeat fascism, you know, that was one of the significant contributing factors and how that all

unfolded some whatever the count is now 60, 70 years ago. And so I’m just I’m really curious thinking

about right now today an hour economy and hour culture, this notion of competitive advantage.

And I’m struck by how so some folks seem to be making some decisions that are potentially

cutting off incredible pools of talent capability loyalty and so forth. And I’m curious if you could

speak to that a little bit. Yeah, I mean, I want to say something that I believe is true,

which is while there’s a lot of noise around, you know, we’ll frame it. You’ve framed it a couple

times as like the backlash, the backlash to ESG, what we see as growing sentiment in opposition to

ESG, you know, frankly, because of the urgency of what we feel in society today,

you’ve said a couple times as well, we have there’s no plan to be, right? The urgency of climate

change requires urgent action. I think a lot about, you know, we’re still coming out of COVID and

also what we saw happen in COVID led to a historic moment of innovation where companies

and countries collaborated in ways that frankly, maybe they haven’t since World War II.

And, you know, there’s so much that you’re bringing up for me now, Aaron, because in my

introduction, you mentioned also the work of the Aspen Institute and I am a fellow of the

Business and Society program whose mission is really to look at that intersection. But it doesn’t,

it’s now what’s coming up for me is that the Aspen Institute and its founding

was ceded by World War II by individuals who were seeking refuge and found it in a really

beautiful place that today continues to be a place where ideas can germinate and people can

be in dialogue and even come forward with bigger ideas for the benefit of all people and the

planet. So it’s not lost on me right now as you talk about, you know, the history that we are

and the work that we’re doing is actually continuing from that labor coming off of Labor Day,

right? Continuing from that labor that is really intergenerational. And that’s what our work

is about too. We see ourselves as part of a continuum. And while B-Corp certification

absolutely has its benefits and it has its detractors, there are many other leaders and tools and

ideas and ideals that are held by so many more people than the ones that are creating the noise

that believe that something better is possible. And in the business context, many more leaders,

particularly CEOs are asking themselves, what is my role in this moment? And I think that

despite the politicization that we might be seeing, more and more business leaders are actually

showing up and answering the call. So encouraging. It’s such a hopeful

report to hear from you because I imagine where you sit, you’ve got this incredible purview into

not only what’s happening with those thousands of companies that are part of the certified

community, but I’m astonished. The stat you shared about the 250,000 companies who have

accessed the BIA assessment, that is an extraordinary number of companies. And so I imagine your

purview is one where you’re really seeing these dynamics and trends unfolding in real time.

We are. And ESG is a moniker. We haven’t, I don’t think we’ve defined it yet,

Aaron said, he stands for environment. The S is for social aspects of a business,

of society, that impact business, so that business should be focused on. And then the G is for

governance, right, the laws under the policy under which business operates. And so I think that

right now, the call to business leaders is to first and foremost, mitigate risk, right? Whether

you believe that climate change is real or whether you are experiencing intense heat in your

community or something that feels nothing like it. If you talk to business leaders in certain

sectors like insurance providers, I would say that absolutely, they are already revisiting their

business models to adjust for the realities of what climate change has caused around the world.

So I think that we’re no longer talking about something that is actually all that intangible

because many of us are facing it day in and day out and it’s just a matter of like how do we

actually, how do we deal with it? And how do we appropriately pivot in some ways, our business

models, our supply chains, and also address the real concerns that employees and communities

are raising so that we don’t lose our competitive edge because if we do believe in the free marketplace,

and I do, those companies are not going to win in the end.

Yeah. I actually love this thread in the conversation and I’ve been, as you know,

doing some writing lately around some of these topics and one of the things I’ve focused in on

quite a bit is this inflection point, this from my perspective, this relatively rapid transformation

in how competitive advantage is working and will be working in the near and midterm futures.

And my gosh, Laura, like, the lab is sort of right in the, in the epicenter of that huge global

transformation that’s underway. I mean, we are, and I would say we’re also like, you know, one of

many parts of an ecosystem, you know, I don’t want to exaggerate the power of what BLAB has

created as a global network, but I do believe that we believe that we’ve reached a tipping point.

You know, so what I might talk about next is, you know, where do we go from here, right? So

the B Corp certification has been about changing individual corporate practice. We’ve now

managed to, you know, create a community of business leaders that are already working to learn

from one another to adopt even better business practices. But the next step of this work is

actually taking it outside to begin to find meaningful ways to redefine the role of business.

Because I think that’s what the cultural backlash, if we can kind of come back to that point,

that’s what it’s about, right, is like a fundamental disagreement in some ways about the role of

business in society. And then, you know, so that’s, I think, where we are, where we want to go

is once we change the culture and the mindset of like the role of business is actually changing the

systems. But I think there’s a real feeling of urgency that we can’t wait for one thing to change

and then do the next, but rather to try and do all these things at once. And so, you know, for

us, for B Lab, partnership is important. I just came off of a webinar with a few of our partners

in this work, which include the Sunrise project that is helping us build partnerships in community.

Series has been an amazing partner in our climate work. And we’ve had thought leaders like

Tainija Boya Robinson, who’s the CEO of Cafe Q, who’s helping us navigate the landscape of

diversity equity inclusion in this moment, where in an anti-ESG, you know, sort of politicized

environment, we are also, you know, seeing the real concerns of companies adopting,

an impact of what it means for companies to adopt DEI practices. And this is also

diversity equity inclusion. Sorry, yes, diversity equity inclusion, you know, on the heels of

some, you know, pretty significant case coming out of the Supreme Court, overturning affirmative

action in college admissions, which while it doesn’t seem related affects the culture, our belief

that there are historical harms that have been done to marginalize populations to black communities

in particular, to indigenous communities in the US and Canada, who have real challenges in

gaining access to opportunity. And so when a policy like affirmative action, as it has,

become overturning, it weakens the fabric of the work that has been done now for decades.

And threatens a lot of the initiatives that companies might be undertaking already.

You know, as I was just over the weekend on a hike with my dear friend, Dr. James, 


Adele Allen Davis, who is one of the most extraordinary corporate leaders I know personally, and she’s an African American medical doctor and CEO of one of the premier brain injury and spinal trauma hospitals in the country.

She also happens to be on the board of the Federal Reserve out of the Kansas City branch.

And, yeah, when this affirmative action decision came down, we actually were on the phone the day of, and she was so upset.

And we have the kind of friendship where she’ll share that with me and I, with her if I’m upset about something.

And it’s just, I think, for me, one of the really important things, understanding that in some of our neighborhoods and some of the communities we have in the United States here in particular, there is not very much diversity.

And it’s, I think, easy for some folks to not really understand the real impacts on people’s lives, on the lives of our brothers and sisters, and setting aside the competitive advantage argument for a moment.

And I agree with you wholeheartedly that this is a weakening of our competitiveness overall as a nation.

But just the human caring aspect of this, I believe, is really important to emphasize.

And we actually had Janelle on the podcast twice once, you know, I was in student diet, her office interviewing her about service leadership in that corporate context, but the second was during COVID after the murder of George Floyd.

And when that occurred, I didn’t really know how to respond on behalf of our nonprofit, the Y on earth community, other than to reach out to Janelle and ask her if she would want to talk about this in the context of a podcast episode.

And it’s such a beautiful episode because that emotionality of how we’re treating each other on the planet, brothers and sisters, all of us of the human race.

You know, really comes through and I believe, and maybe I’m wrong about this for him, maybe strategically there are other better ways to go about all of this work that we’re engaged in.

But for me personally, to really have an opportunity to hear from folks most affected by policies that might otherwise not seem much other than some sort of abstract economic or legal engineering or whatever.

I’m struck that the personal stories and all of this are actually really important. That’s my opinion.

I mean, I think just like business, this work is relational. And what you’re pointing out is that there is a moral imperative.

But I want to go beyond the moral sort of argument here because what we are talking about is a planet with limited resources, period.

When you introduced me, you talked about the companies that I worked for. And one of those companies, Alkoa, looks very different today than when I was there.

But Alkoa taught me one of the most important lessons of my career, which is that an extractive industry, not just the company itself, but that an extractive industry, must rethink its practices entirely.

Because we operate in a world of limited resources. To me, that is the business case, right?

Because in the words of Greta Thunberg, we must act with urgency. And, oh gosh, Greta, I’m so sorry, I’m going to get paraphrase you all wrong.

But, you know, I’m getting really excited here because I think what we are talking about is that we cannot continue to grow. That’s what Greta said, right?

We cannot continue to grow for growth sake. Because this competitive advantage that we continue to have inspired our business models is rooted in the idea that certain companies get access to resources first.

And they control those resources. No one else gets them. And I hold on to those resources for as long as I can to maximize my profit.

This is what needs to change because our planet will not survive business models that are extractive and exploitative.

I’ll get off my, you know, excited sort of platform here, but I think your audience will really resonate with, you know, that idea that business practice really needs to rethink its practice.

And ensure that it’s doing so in a regenerative way, right? That’s what we, when we talk about the E and ESG, we’re talking about practices that give back to the earth, right?

And that also give back to people in a way that is equitable and allows them to thrive on the planet that we hope will only get better because of it.

Beautiful. Beautiful. Let me remind our audience. This is the YonEarth community podcast. I’m your host, Aaron William Perry. And today we’re visiting with Jorge Fontanez, the CEO of BLAB US in Canada. And maybe Puerto Rico too, we’ll get to that.

And I’m really excited to ask you about your recent trip. I want to be sure to mention folks can find a lot of information from Jorge and his team at USCA dot B corporation dot net. And we have a handful of different links that will provide in the show notes regarding.

We’re going on with the BLAB community broadly, the certification process itself.

We’ll give you the link where you can sign up for the B the change news letter. And of course, we want to be sure to encourage folks to like and follow the B the change in BLAB movements throughout the social route.

And so I don’t forget and we can come back to this too if we want to speak in more detail about it. There’s a gathering in Vancouver, Canada, March of the coming year 2024 and folks can look at info and sign up for that through one of the links as well.

I want to be sure to to thank some of our partners and sponsors who make our YonEarth community podcast series possible, as well as our other culture, economy and ecology regeneration, Renaissance work. And this includes Chelsea green publishing.

We can get a 35% discount on all of their books and audio books using the code why O E 35 the easiest way to get to all of these special partner offers by the way is at YonEarth dot org on our partner and sponsor page.

There’s links for all of us.

Period organic super foods. They’re offering wonderful first time discounts as well.

Way they water soaking salts, earth hero, sustainable products, soil works, biodynamic gardening preparations, earth coast productions, and of course, our many ambassadors worldwide who make our work possible and who have joined our monthly giving program.

If you haven’t yet joined our monthly giving program, you’d like to you can join at any level that works for you at our on our donate button on the YonEarth dot org site.

And if you’d like to give at the $33 a month or higher, we’ll be happy to send you as a thank you, a jar of the way they waters biodynamically and regeneratively grown hemp infused aroma therapy soaking salts to help you with your well being practices and in the midst of all of this beautiful work that’s happening.

And so many, many thanks to everybody making this happen. I want to give a special shout out also to 1% for the planet. Of course, Kate Williams has been on the podcast and I know there’s a lot of overlap between the B core community and the 1% community.

And we spoke about this with Nathan Stuck recently in the podcast episode we did with him for his consulting company, profitable, profitable purpose consulting.

And maybe we can speak about that a little as well, Jorge, but first I definitely want to ask you tell us about your recent trip to Puerto Rico and some of it sounds like there’s some exciting news and developments just in the last several days that you might be able to share with us.

Yes, yes, thanks Aaron. And I just want to make it easy for you and your audience to we are be corpse calm gets you to our site and all of our resources.

Sometimes it’s hard to follow all of our URL speak we are be corpse calm. Yes, so I am of the Puerto Rican diaspora. I was born in Philadelphia, my parents are from Puerto Rico and their parents were born there and as far as I know, all of the generations before.

We’re there for for centuries and I am just returning from Puerto Rico where we are excited to be partnering with organizations there on the ground that include the Puerto Rico science trust and their programs that are also all about creating community that creating an ecosystem for entrepreneurs and small business.

They’re called come in a synthesis parallel to teen and fase uno and it’s you know it’s a really it’s really interesting to think about what’s going on Puerto Rico for me though this work is gosh.

This work is overwhelming right when we think about the bold ambitions that we in particular be lab have to create economic systems change.

But Puerto Rico gives me that lens through which it all feels more possible you know the history of imperialism and colonialism is is very much the history of Puerto Rico the history of extractive and exploitative capitalism is very much the history of Puerto Rico.

The optimism that I feel that you have sense also in this call is also the story of Puerto Rico where on the ground there are you know those of us outside the diaspora playing our role but in on the island there are Puerto Ricans very much interested in ways in which they can use their agency and in particular use business as a force for good which is our mantra to change the world.

The way that Puerto Rico has you know operated out and with the lens of regeneration with the lens of doing so in a more equitable way next month we’re going to be launching the first sort of early chapter of what we call be locals there are 30 chapters of self organized.

The core leaders around the country in the U.S. and Canada and in Puerto Rico it’s really interesting because we only have one certified becorp they happen to be a law firm.

And so they’re starting as a community with the commitment to certify 25 companies in the next year it’s called.

Impresas in the information the Puerto Rico so basically like becorp’s information and and we’ll be providing support for them to ensure that they have what they need in order to make it over the next year to hopefully certify those 25 becorp’s.

So that’s what’s happening on the island that all launches in September there’s actually an open call to businesses on the island to apply to be come part of that cohort and yeah it’s been I think a couple things that I’m learning now having been on the ground is that there is real optimism and hope on the island for business to play a role in the next chapter of Puerto Rico.

Not only in terms of improving its economy but also to affect the infrastructure under which business operates and hopefully at some point the business rules under which business operates too.

So great to hear it so exciting to hear I hope we’ll be able to keep up and track some of these developments in Puerto Rico specifically in the coming months and years and of course want to say happy birthday.

You were down there in part also celebrating your birthday and we discovered before recording that we’re both bicentennial babies so that’s not real Aaron no mystery there.

Sorry I mean hey look it’s the age of information right but yeah it’s just wonderful to have this sense of camaraderie and I think with many of the folks in the movement many of the leaders many of the others connected to the companies there’s this real sense of camaraderie community.

And I know especially for entrepreneurs and executives and organizational leaders that’s a really important dimension of life right because often the work we’re doing that we’re engaged in can can leave us feeling a bit depleted or isolated or even lonely at times right.

So I love that there’s such a strong sense of camaraderie and community among in between the many folks involved in this movement and I’m curious if you might tell us a little more about how that shows up with these self organizing regional communities because that sounds so exciting.

Yeah I want to speak to this word movement right because it’s it’s a word that we do use to refer to the community and in order to embody movement building we must always be an action right and so the way that that shows up in the community is that we have oh gosh I’m now losing track 30 plus networks so I mentioned the be locals 30 chapters of be locals that are placed.

But we also have industry based networks as well as identity based networks and and other networks about that are all about sort of sector of best practice sharing so we the change is cultivating community amongst women.

We also have a big group of women and helping us really speak to gender equity in our movement we have a black indigenous people of color network that similarly helps to hold us accountable to our anti racism commitments and help us and support us and partner with us even more importantly and ensuring that we create products and

services with equitable access in mind and that includes people with disabilities and veterans and LGBTQ identifying folks and then we have I mentioned industry based networks that are also from a functional perspective so there’s a marketer’s network and a procurement network and and then from an industry perspective one of the most recently long

recently launched sector based networks is called the be court beauty coalition and that one happens to be global in scope and their commitments are super clear and impactful you know they’re coming they’re coming together out from within the sector to share best practices around green packaging and better supply chains right.

We also have our collectives which are part of our movement building and our climate work really does is is probably our best example of where this is happening our be court climate collective has for some time now brought on 1800 and growing companies onto net zero commitments and they’re coming together to ensure that

they meet those goals and hold themselves accountable to removing greenhouse gases from from the from the climate and the be court climate collective and it was also supporting us in the next evolution of our work which is really shifting from a focus on the environment to justice right.

To acknowledge the historical harms that business in particular has played to create injustices because of the decisions that business actors have played in sourcing from you know marginalized and underrepresented communities who

now are affected greatly by the impact of big industry from a health perspective and from an economic perspective as well as other other ways in which this shows up and so the work of the be court climate collective is really deeply partnering and having the work be locally informed by

frontline community members climate justice and social justice organizers who can also help help keep us accountable to the ways in which we’re looking to solve for his environmental racism by ensuring that the solutions that we’re bringing forward are centered in justice and so there’s a lot of work that we need to continue to do here.

But those are the examples of the movement in action so exciting I got to ask for for those of us who aren’t in leadership positions in companies how can we get involved how do we help support and connect to this all of this amazing work that’s being done.

Well you know employees of companies that are not be corpse are some of the it’s probably the top reason why companies come to us to seek certification because their employees are looking for a new way of being of working and our standards offer a framework for companies to get started and we know we think we’ve removed

barriers to access really for any company to go into our assessment and evaluate whether or not they can or want to or would be able to achieve certification but even without that prospect I want to come back to the 250,000 companies that have actually used our assessment.

We believe to assess themselves right we know that so we didn’t talk about the certification and the scoring but right today a B Corp in order to be certified across the five segments that we discussed earlier must build a score at a minimum 80 from all the data that we have submitted from the 250,000 what we learned is that the average score is something like 50 to 56.

And so we that’s another validation point that B Corps are exceptional because most companies don’t overcome that hurdle and so but let’s not focus on the score because by nature of completing the assessment a company can very quickly understand where the gaps are.

And to the extent that they are interested in improving their supply chain efforts or improving their commitments to diversity and inclusion and their employee base or looking at how to improve transparency to their customers there is a lot to be learned in the assessment itself and so I would say that anyone who works within a company can use our assessment as a starting point.

Wonderful. That’s so great. I got to ask okay this is this is maybe a little bit of a nerdy question and then certainly we can.

Let’s start out I’m here.

I know we’re going to do a special behind the scenes chat also that our ambassadors have access to with our ambassador resources and so again folks if you have enjoyed our ambassador network you need to like to one of the many benefits is getting access to some of our.

To all of our behind the scenes chats that we have with many of our guests after our main podcast interviews and or a knowing knowing we’ll do that soon.

I want to ask because I’m really curious from a macro economic perspective here.

It’s it’s notable that you’ve worked at alkoa co-gate palm olive and JP Morgan chase right these are not small companies these these are some of the behemoths making up the fortune 500 fortune 1000.

And I know also that most of our jobs in the economy at least as far as I understand it are in small and medium sized businesses and it’s my impression that many and perhaps most of the.

Be certified companies thus far tend to be small and mid cap companies small and medium sized companies looking at the full spectrum and I’m really cute like I want to ask you what do you what do you see happening with the largest companies the fortune 500 fortune 1000 large cap.

Companies out there in the in the coming years vis-a-vis ESG broadly and also potentially vis-a-vis the B certification itself.

Yeah so for context that just to geek out a little bit on the data so I talked about you know the thousands of companies that are certified in our region 80% of them are small and medium enterprises we classify that as being under $100 million in revenue.

And we take a closer look you know even about 40% of our community is less than 5 million and then you know if you look at the micro businesses you realize that our movement and our community is very much fueled by the energy of small business which are by the way the job creators right net job creators in at least in the US context.

And and that’s that information that data is important for us to recognize and respect because without small business without companies operating in their regions I don’t know that we would be able to call ourselves a movement because a movement must also be locally relevant right when we talk about the again these like

bold ambitions that we have for systems change. Some of us might our minds might lead to what’s happening in Washington DC. Well what’s happening in Washington DC isn’t always necessarily relevant to the average person we’re trying and working to make this relevant to the average person working in their community and what I what I believe is true and what we’ve seen especially over the last two years is that B Corp CEOs are and leaders are.

Using their platform to engage in a different conversation locally.

And that has the ability to influence the larger enterprises and multinationals to engage in the conversation and that’s exactly what we’ve seen happen in this movement is we’ve we’ve seen the sort of you know I’m going to use the word grass roots.

The sort of this grass is grounds well that’s the way I want to use this grounds well that really has been driven by small business that is now reached a level of awareness by which now large enterprise companies and multinationals are looking at the at this and saying oh you know there’s something here for us to address.

Now what does this look like I want to come back to some points that you raise which is the the the rigor behind certification which only increases due to the size and complexity of larger companies and multinational companies.

So to go on this journey is a multi year effort in some cases and so examples of that in our community to know and famously has been certifying its subsidiaries around the world they’re about 70% done to know North America sits in our region and that’s very exciting and it’s you know it’s it’s it’s a multi year effort.

And what I believe is that the commitment of multinationals like to known like unilever like so no fee pharmaceuticals that just certified in our region can be transformative we need the resources of small and big business to be at play to create the kind of economic systems change that we’re dreaming of.

And so we’re at a really interesting sort of growth phase at B lab because demand for certification doubled you know in triples in a very short period of time the growth of the number of B course has also tripled in size in just the last few years and what that means is.

And what we’re seeing is greater interest from larger and larger companies and that’s just exciting but I want to come back to the point that it’s necessary for for multinational companies in particular whose supply chains likely are the very own companies that are also already changing their business practice whether or not they’re a big group or not not a big group.

And the last point I’ll make is that this movement needs to be inclusive and I say that intentionally because we’re not here to try and get every company to become a B corp because if we if we were we would never achieve and realize our mission or vision instead where we’re going next is to look for.

Good ways to expand who is part of our movement because I think it’s just as beneficial to get more companies to adopt a better business practice than it is to try and get every company to become a certified B corp and I guess I should caveat that is that’s my point of view.

I love it.

I love it.

Well look I’m so thrilled we we’ve had this opportunity to chat today and I know we’ve got a little more time together for our behind the scenes segment.

And before signing off of our main podcast interview or I just I want to first of all thank you for for being on the podcast and secondly I want to just open the floor to you if there’s if there’s anything else you’d like to say or anything we didn’t get to that you want to get to please the floor is all yours.

Yeah you know I want to say that you know well you you extended the invitation for your audience to join us at champions retreat which is what’s coming up in March of 2024 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

And what I want to say is that even for me being in this seat now for two years it wasn’t until I got to be in person in community that we all need right you know we’re seeing you know historic concert level attendance these days and I think that that that also goes for for our retreat.

Last one we held in Philadelphia and and you know I guess my point is to say like you don’t really know what’s happening here until you experience it and I really hope that more of your audience to the extent that there’s curiosity about what be corpse are doing to is to reach out to a local there nearest local chapter right from New York to Portland to Texas is information and Austin.

Austin Dallas Houston I’ll be at Bill southeast you mentioned Nathan stack who’s a real champion of our work who leads be local Georgia will be in I’ll be along with number a number of my team members in Raleigh North Carolina next month so you know we’re taking this on the road is I guess my point in hopes that in knowing actually not just in hope but in knowing that being community is really important.

And I just invite your audience to do the same and to find us because we’re out there.

Beautiful so wonderful having this opportunity to visit with you today where hey thank you so much for taking the time to be on the podcast yeah thank you Aaron I really appreciate what you’re doing here and I really enjoy this conversation.

Thank you thank you.

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