I have written before about B Corp. Today I am looking at the B Corp Handbook. This is a how-to (and why-to) guide to getting registered as a B Corporation. The authors have a number of suggestions that could prove useful. One of the most important should be shown in big lights whenever people discuss doing good for society. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Don’t let waiting for perfection stop you from achieving stuff while you wait for perfection.
The B Corp Handbook
The B Corp Handbook is now in its second edition. For this, it added more ideas on improving workplace equity to the first edition text. The advice is, broadly speaking, good. Occasionally the advice seems a tad predictable and worthy, but it probably is useful to help well-meaning people not forget things.
The book shares lots of examples of successful B Corp which can be quite inspiring/informative. One of the most interesting things about this movement is the saying, ‘no margin, no mission’. B Corps try and make money; they aren’t charitable endeavors but they aim to do much more than just make money.
In reading the handbook you realize that certification requires a lot of work. That is a good thing. Claims are more credible when they take effort to achieve and have to be proved.
The impact assessment is the tool to see whether the company is doing the things that (at least according to B Labs) help a wide range of stakeholders. Any company can do the assessment to judge where they fit. (Certification, which includes assessment of the claims made in the impact assessment, is a much longer process).
When discussing the impact assessment the authors suggest taking a quick pass to see what the business is like.
you have the ability to see that “the perfect is the enemy of the good”.Honeymand and Jana, 2019, page 162
I think that is so important in the field of responsible business. Some see business as inevitably imperfect. They are right. But, to my mind, you shouldn’t let imperfections stop you from achieving positive things. Every advance in world history has come from imperfect things, e.g., people, organizations, legal systems etc…
Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good
The movement has a motto. We stand for something, not against anything. The idea is to make the world a better place through business. Even if business is never perfect, maybe it can sometimes be imperfectly good.
Ryan Honeyman and Tiffany Jana (2019) The B Corp Handbook (Second Edition):
How You Can Use Business as a Force for Good, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.