April 13, 2024

The UK Alliance supports Benefit's advanced requirements

The movement to transform corporate governance from a nice-to-have to a must-have is advancing in the UK, as business leaders join forces to advocate for legislation to align company practices and policies with the long-term benefit of people and society. Planet as well as profit. By requiring public companies and their directors to balance and promote the interests of all stakeholders, the proposed legislation known as the Better Business Act (BBA) would help UK businesses address the climate crisis and social inequality as part of larger systems change, according to its report. Supporters.

The BBA has the support of over 900 businesses as well as 76% of people in the UK who want companies to take legal responsibility for their impact. Among the organizers and supporters of the BBA is B Lab UK CEO Chris Turner, who oversees nearly 600 companies in the UK Certified B Corporation community as well as collaborating with other organizations that champion purpose-driven business. He says the Better Business Act is a necessary step in reshaping economic systems to help address global challenges, and B Corps have demonstrated the positive impact of business on creating value for stakeholders.

“When it comes to governance, all B Teams have to make a legal change depending on the jurisdiction they are in. They are the living proof of the concept of stakeholder governance, which we call ‘aligned interests,’” “It's not just business, it's a better way to grow a business, faster and more sustainably, as well as taking care of people and the planet,” he says. “So the campaign is designed to say: There's evidence that this works too A model of governance. “It's good for business growth and also has a positive impact.”

Turner and I recently spoke as part of my research on… Goal-oriented actionsso I can learn more about the Better Business Act, and how the Queen's Annual Speech can play a role in the movement behind the passage of the Bill, positioning it as part of UK innovation and the larger global call for beneficial corporate governance.

Chris Marquez: Share a little about the history and motivations behind the Better Business Act and the companies that champion it.

Chris Turner: Our overarching mission is systems change. The story of better business law begins with B Corps, But it's not meant to end with Corps B. Hopefully the story will end with a system-wide transformation.

In the UK, our B Corps community now numbers around 600 members, and is growing faster than ever, but there are over 5 million businesses in the UK. The fundamental and clear challenge is to harness this core group of leaders to bring about broader change. Our strategy is designed around leveraging those levers to achieve scale, and one of those levers is political action.

When it comes to governance, all B teams have to make a legal change depending on the jurisdiction in which they operate. They are the living proof of the concept that stakeholder governance, which we call “aligned interests,” is not just a better way to grow a business, faster and more sustainably, as well as taking care of people and the planet. “So the campaign is designed to say: There's evidence that this works too A model of governance. It is good for business growth as well as positive impact.

Our basic theory of change in the campaign was to be the voice of business saying this is where business culture is going; In fact, what we need is for the law to catch up with what good leadership in business looks like. So we wanted the business voice to be at the heart of the campaign.

We were inspired to work at the benefit foundation Legislation in the United States and various other places around the world. But by 2019, it was clear that what was needed now was for stakeholder governance – our common interest – to no longer be an option. It should be the default. It should be the minimum expectations we have from a business.

Thousands of companies around the world have benefited from adopting it as a framework of choice, so again, it all adds up to a proof of concept. But now is the time, and even necessary, for us to move beyond this option and make it the default.

Marquez: Making it virtual rather than voluntary is a bold move. Can you explain more about how you made this decision and how you brought other business leaders — especially those who are not in B Corps — into the campaign?

Gymnast: And that's the big shift here, where we go beyond proof of concept to say, “Let's change the system.” This imperative is evident in the crises we face – the climate emergency, rising levels of social inequality, and unrest. 2021 was the right time for us to launch BBA in the UK We had a COP in Glasgow last year, and amid the recovery from the pandemic, our government – like the US – had the ambition to “build back better”. At the same time, the government here also has a “level up” agenda. It's all about leveling up those areas of the UK that have fallen behind economically.

It's a powerful narrative for us to say that for the UK to achieve any of its goals – including its very ambitious net zero commitments – as a government, you have to do it in partnership with business – in fact in partnership with every business in the country. The only way to achieve this goal is to redefine the contract between business and society, and the Better Business Act will amend the essence of the contract. A piece of corporate governance that does that. We describe this as the director's 'job description', which sets out his or her responsibilities under the law. In current legislation, this is incredibly vague, and we need to clean this up One of our core partners, the Institute of Directors, is one of the largest and most influential business membership organizations in the UK

We now have over 950 companies on board to support BBA, most of which are now not B Corps. What we hear from the vast majority of those companies is that this is how we do business anyway. These are just good business principles. For millions of SMEs across the UK You're not putting any extra burden on them, and you're not asking them to do anything different. What the legislation should do is level the playing field for these companies.

Marquez: What are some of the steps you took to create and develop the legislation?

Gymnast: There are all sorts of ways in which a bill can be introduced in the UK. In the current political context, we need to build our support base within the ruling party, the Conservative Party, and within government. We spoke to a lot of Conservative MPs, a lot of civil servants. And of course we are also building a broad base of support within Parliament because this is not a partisan issue.

It can be a government bill or a member-introduced bill, which is an unpredictable way to pass legislation. There is a piece of corporate governance reform underway at the moment, which could also be a vehicle for this change. There are different methods, all of which rely on a broad coalition of supporters in parliament. In terms of campaign strategy, we are working on this: Building this coalition means that we are building our profile and creating an amazing group of business ambassadors from all over the UK who are meeting with politicians, speaking with us at events, speaking to us. Press, spread the word.

Our campaign demands to see Four principles – for compatible interests, authorized managers, default status and reporting on changes – which are reflected in legislation. Rather than demanding specific changes to the text, this approach gives us scope to achieve this in a number of different ways.

Marquez: What role have UK B Corps played in developing better business law and these four principles? How has the global B Corp community served as a resource in advocating for better business law?

Gymnast: We spoke with people at other regional B Lab institutions. One of the things we emphasize at Better Business Law is that this procedure is the first of its kind in the world. The UK has an impressive tradition of leadership and innovation in corporate governance. This is an opportunity for us to continue doing what we do best.

Supporters include companies and their leaders such as John Lewis, Waitrose, Iceland; Innocent Drinks and Douglas Lamont, co-chair of the campaign; And Holly Branson at Virgin. People see these names and realize it's serious. It's also important for us to have this kind of representative coalition, highlighting all the small businesses that support this as well. It is relevant for every size of business, and every the actor.

Any company that signs up plays a role in building this overall case for credibility. Over the summer, we ran a program encouraging businesses across the country to invite their local MPs to come and visit the company and hear how they are bringing better business principles to life. This is one of the most powerful things our coalition companies can do, which is to demonstrate it in action.

This year will bring some big milestones. In May, there is the Queen's Speech, written by the government, which sets out the legislative agenda. Our big goal this year is to include better business law in the Queen's Speech. This will include a major push in March and April to get as many of our businesses and the people who work in our businesses to write to their local MPs to support the BBA in the Queen's Speech.

See also  PM Johnson and Chancellor Merkel discuss Afghanistan