‘Doing the right thing’ – fringe to mainstream

Just 18 months separate my brother and me.

He is a mathematician, and sees the world through a lens of unwavering logic. In fact, his co-workers have even nicknamed him ‘Rational Ricky’ – an affectionate jab at his approach to life.

Being the emotion-driven person that I am, it’s always more fun to debate the big issues of politics and economics with someone who brings a different perspective, and so my brother makes a perfect sparring partner.

It’s not all debate and disagreement though – on some fronts, like the ineptitude of public transport for example, we are firmly united.

Recently, we had a robust discussion on the commercial reality of recycling, (not entirely in disagreement) and the chat culminated in Rational Ricky flicking me a smile, and saying my vision for the world was Utopian.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Australian launch of Benefit Corporations – a certification movement started in the US, and now growing globally.

Essentially, the not-for-profit organisation stands for a ‘redefining of business’ so that companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world.

Companies that become a ‘B Corp’, are certified as having voluntarily met rigorous standards around social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

American co-founder of B Corps, Bart Houlahan, the former president of AND1 Basketball and Entertainment Company, gave a rousing welcome speech to the founding 43 Australian companies joining the certification.

At the very core of what Houlahan talked about, is the notion of acting to ensure one’s impact is positive. He points out that business is the greatest force in our society, and speculates that when structured right, it can be a force for amazing good.

It’s hardly a groundbreaking revelation, and yet it is a sentiment that has eluded so many companies.

The newly B Corp certified Australian companies join over 1,000 companies worldwide, from over 60 industries, working together towards one unifying goal: to balance profit with purpose.

The meeting of commercial interests with social good is no Utopia my friends – it’s a burgeoning reality.