Our First B Corporation Champions Retreat
I had a great time in Burlington earlier this month with the B Corporation community. It was inspiring to be around people working for change and meeting people who are working to make business a force for good in this world. Over 350 people came from around the world to attend this event and it was exciting to see how global this movement has become. The event was held in Vermont and it was clear to see the pride of all of the local B Corps who have been fighting to make a difference in this community.
I went to learn more about the B Corporation movement, but also to talk with B Labs about open source and the broader sharing economy. In OpenConcept's B Lab score, the contributions we provide back to the open source community were not counted. Like other B Corps, we do believe in measuring what matters. Coming from Dries Keynote in DrupalCon Amsterdam, I do think it's useful to think of open source as a Public Good. Open source software is non-excludable (everyone can use them) and non-rivalrous (one use does not reduce availability) and so fit along with other goods such as fresh air, lighthouses and street lighting.
Most of the Internet is built on free and open source software. I am hopeful that this good will be considered in future metrics.
I was struck by the number and range of the businesses out there, particularly those striving to make a difference in the environment. There were some really great stories of folks thinking outside the box to find ways to reduce their impact on the planet.
I also really enjoyed the discussions focused on Wendell Berry's 2012 Jefferson Lecture. It is rare to step back with a bunch of other business leaders and consider the bigger questions. It was fascinating to look at the history of philanthropy and industrialization in America. Thinking about people in terms of "boomers" & "stickers" is quite interesting, particularly since most of us in the room had embraced mobility and progress. Putting the work of a business in a larger historical context is really quite useful, for those who want to build a better future. Certainly it is useful to come back to thinking of the importance of community and realizing that "It All Turns on Affection".
There were a lot of excellent presentations at the retreat. Inspiring ideas to both be better organizations as well as to build a movement to encourage more businesses to formally embrace people and planet and not just profits. It was really encouraging to see Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's taking on the challenge of reforming election finance in the USA.
It was also terrific to see involvement by both Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Thomas Perez, Secretary of Labor speak at this event. Having a member of Obama's Cabinet talk about the importance of the B Corps model is incredibly encouraging. Political leadership is very important in ensuring that businesses become a positive force in our world. Was great to hear Thomas Parez challenge business to both do well and do good, a challenge which Dries has made to the Drupal community in past DrupalCons.
Hopefully more of this thinking comes up to Canada!
About The Author
Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.