Unilever – Striving for a B?

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Article posted on January 23, 2015 by The B Team published on The Guardian

Last month, Brazil’s top cosmetics, fragrance and toiletries maker, Natura, became the largest – and first publicly traded – company to attain B Corp sustainability certificationB Corp-certified companies differ from traditional corporations because they commit to reporting on the impact of their organisation’s activity against the triple bottom line, i.e. measuring not only their economic but also their social and environmental impact and performance. Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, the non-profit company that began the B Corp movement, said Natura’s certification was highly supported by its institutional investors.  B Corps are already legislated in 28 states in the US, and the movement is currently looking to overcome legal barriers to launching in Europe.

Even though Unilever’s worldwide operation would make B Corp’s certification assessment extremely complex and time-consuming, consumer goods giant Unilever could be the next B Corp. Chief executive of Ben & Jerry’s, has been leading negotiations with B Corp on behalf of Unilever. He said:

“We are trying to demonstrate that it’s possible for larger corporations to become a B Corp, even if the main target is the new generation of companies that are being created.”

Natura scored 111 out of a possible 200 in its initial B Corp assessment.  Natura’s co-chair, Guilherme Leal, finds that even this is just above average, B Corp’s assessment is a useful tool as it indicates where to allocate resources to move closer towards sustainability:

“As you can see we have 90 points to go, so this creates a roadmap to show where we should put higher efforts to become better and how to deal with some issues that we are not giving enough attention to. Understanding our fragilities better means we can see where we can improve.”

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