Jay Coen Gilbert is co-founder of B Lab, the non-profit organisation that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. B Lab certifies B Corporations, companies that meet the highest standards of verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.Since its inception in 2006, the B Corp movement has grown so that there are currently over 2,300 certified corporations operating within 150 industries in 50 countries. Jay also serves on the board of Investors’ Circle, an organisation dedicated to the acceleration of patient capital markets towards a sustainable future. Prior to founding B Lab, Jay enjoyed a successful career in the private sector, notably through AND 1, a 250 million dollar basketball footwear and apparel company which he co-founded and later sold.
In this encouraging interview, Jay provides some fascinating insights into an exciting global movement that aims to re-define success in business. He describes how institutions are typically slow to react to social change and how there is ample opportunity to cater to millennials’ greater concern for social and environmental issues, both as consumers and as a workforce. He outlines how B Corps unlock the full potential of business by harnessing the power of competition so that businesses not only compete to be the best in the world but “the best for the world.” He also describes the “B Impact Assessment,” the comprehensive accreditation system which accounts for supply chains, workers’ rights, the environment, community engagement and governance, thereby providing a holistic and genuine picture of a company’s impact. This assessment is fully transparent and is regularly updated through solicited public engagement. Joel also touches on B Corps’ relationship with finance by describing how larges investors can use B Corps as a blueprint for managing systemic risk. Joel is optimistic about the prospects for expansion of the movement, pointing to Danone as the first Fortune 500 Company with aspirations to join, but stresses how the ultimate goal is to change attitudes in the business community. Finally, he outlines the need for a more inclusive and distributive form of capitalism, stressing how the rise of populism is symptomatic of a growing disenchantment with an economic system that rewards an ever shrinking portion of the population.