B For Good Leaders: It’s time for business leaders to be challenged to make a difference
* By Julia Maggion
B For Good Leaders
In June of this year Marcello Palazzi and Leen Zevenbergen held the event B For Good Leaders. Both are involved in structuring and promoting the Global B Corp Movement in Europe. “All together we are” or “all we are together”, is the phrase that can fully express the feeling of belonging and co-responsibility among the participants. There were three intense days of lectures, discussion sessions, in-depth work and meetings so that more than 600 people from all over the world had opportunities to do business.
This was one of the most exciting impact company meetings. In addition to being held in Rome, with all its grandeur and remarkable history as an ancient center of the Roman Empire, the event not only used the beautiful auditorium of the Palazzi de La Musica, but also expanded to various historical points in the city. The event really gave the participants the opportunity to integrate with the city, in sessions promoted outdoors, for example in Piazza Navona or on a boat in Tevere. But more than that, this incredible meeting received experts from different backgrounds, sectors and industries, all working towards a common ideal, thus confirming the power of diversity. For systemic change to happen, we need to break down silos, niches, closed groups and understand that in fact we are all together on one planet. We are global beings.
In a not so distant past
In 2014, around 12 people met together with Bart Houlahan and Jay Coen Gilbert, founders of the B Lab and the Global Movement of B Corporations, in Bogotá to think about the expansion of the Movement. I was there, along with Marcello Palazzi and a team of wonderful people, the first enthusiasts, leaders involved in the mission to transform the global economy and be part of what would now be the biggest impact business movement in the world. In eight years, more than 5000 companies joined the movement, seeking to understand, through the impact tool B, what their environmental, social, governance and business model footprint is. The ESG, which everyone talks about today, has been masterfully worked on by B Lab since 2006.
The change in economic systems is necessary and it is happening. The collective vision of this Movement is to create an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy. The next step in this process is to spread that message and make regenerative leadership really happen.
Regenerative Economy, Good Finance, Leadership and Corporate Activism were the four main themes of the event in Rome. They were worked on in a deep and integrated way, by names such as Hunter Lovins (President of Natural Capitalism Solutions), Emmanuelle Wargon (Italian Housing Minister), Alexia Michiels (The Resilience Institute), Bertrand Badré (BlueOrgange Capital), among many other masters.
The wave of Regenerative Economy has definitely arrived. It is not enough to sustain, we have to regenerate, and companies have a challenging and promising path in this regard! The first and big steps: 1. Measure your impact; 2. Neutralize it to zero; 3. Make a positive impact. regenerate. This is a journey of profound transition that our society begins to live out of urgency and necessity, but which it is clear that we already have the ability to understand it to create the right solutions.
The power of the regenerative economy is there, through nature-based market solutions that the consumer wants and understands. For this, we need to expand our knowledge of the metrics that support this dynamic. The only way is to raise the standards to which companies are submitted, either by the government or by society, and for that, the entire accounting system needs to encourage companies to follow a better path. Calculate and measure the value of regeneration.
This is where we come to Finance for Good. Investors play a key role in this process. How can they encourage companies to have regenerative standards? Adding more than extracting from ecosystems? What incentives or subsidies should be promoted? Those that are given to conventional agriculture, which continues to advance based on degenerative mechanisms, or to new models that are ready to expand? Sustainable outcomes are the outcomes of regenerative systems, that’s how nature works. These were some of the questions asked during the debates and workshops in Rome. It is time for us to ask questions.
We need to challenge ourselves as Leaders. How can we create the capabilities to map and manage the complexity in which we live? We need leaders who have the ability to commit to this purpose. Let them assume: I come with a purpose. And that create ways for companies to be the most powerful way to generate life and give meaning to people’s lives connected to it and to the entire living system of which it is a part. It is a paradigm shift from quantitative and qualitative growth to selective growth.
Here we come to the climax of the event: we need a radical change. Radical Change was the catchphrase. And we need it now. Companies are and should be the activists of this movement. Corporate Activism or Corporate Activism was appropriated in such a way by the entrepreneurs, CEOs, executives who were there that the end of the meeting had the air of a World Cup final. It is not every day that you hear Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone, saying that “it is in the soil that the whole movement of life begins, and that regenerative agriculture will change the way we produce and consume food, and that this is the most critical point. for the transformation we need”. Or Paul Polman committed to promoting a global alliance of people and the planet to create community and partnerships. That we are living through a food security crisis and an ego crisis and that we need to be brave enough to admit that each of us has a responsibility for what happens in the world.
How radical can you be as a corporation? How radical can you be as a corporation? It’s not optional, we need to move, now.
*Julia Maggion is CEO and co-founder of Ateha, the impact hub for climate solutions. Graduated from the Faculty of Business Administration at FEA – USP, she worked for giants such as Citibank and Alpargatas. Engaged in topics related to inclusion and sustainability, she undertook to create companies that generate a positive impact, such as Plura, which offered training, mapping and learning processes. It is part of Guayaki Yerba Mate, a company dedicated to the preservation of the Atlantic Forest that produces drinks from Yerba Mate. It is part of Sistema B, the organization that drives the Global Movement of B Corps, or B Corps, in Latin America. She created Ateha in 2021, with the aim of actively participating in building the climate impact business ecosystem in Brazil.