This week in our Sustainability Series we are covering B Corp Certification, an application of Strategic Thinking, our second pillar of sustainability.
Strategic thinking frames every action taken in terms of its contribution to some greater, long-term goal. In applying strategic thinking, it’s essential to consider path dependencies; how the status quo and future actions depend on each other in making a larger outcome possible. Today, there are a lot of individuals, businesses, and organizations working towards similar, large, long-term goals related to sustainability. CIRT is one of these: we are working towards a circular economy, a reduction in carbon emissions, and the improved health of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. It is important that all of the actors in the chain of decision making are aware of how their current and future actions contribute to or take away from progress towards a shared goal. This is why strategic thinking is one of the pillars of sustainability: because most sustainability goals are so enormous and far in the future that it can sometimes be hard to see how small, everyday actions are truly making a difference. This also hints at the next pillar that we will cover: Integrative Problem Solving, because diverse stakeholders groups need to coordinate actions towards common long-term goals!
CIRT is excited to announce that we are working towards becoming a Certified B Corp! What does that mean? Certified B Corps put sustainable operations ahead of profit, with the knowledge that in the long run these sustainable actions are contributing to a healthier economy, environment, and society. That’s why B Corp is an excellent example of strategic thinking; businesses are taking actions now because they cannot prosper unless society prospers.
To become Certified B Corp, a company must meet a set of standards and benchmarks around how workers are treated, how environmental impacts are managed, and how they work with underserved communities. B Corps are then legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This process helps consumers to distinguish between good marketing and good businesses. As America’s environmental and ethical consciousness has grown stronger, more and more companies are engaging in a practice known as greenwashing. This is when an organization creates misleading or false information that presents an environmentally responsible public image. Many consumers today believe that they are making better choices for the planet, when in fact they might just be unwitting targets of corporate greenwashing. One of the most famous and long-running greenwashing campaigns in history is Keep America Beautiful, which deflected criticism of a shift from deposit-return bottles to disposable beverage bottles by blaming consumers for increasing roadside litter and putting the onus on individuals to clean up the industry’s mess.
CIRT is committed to meeting the triple bottom line of sustainability: environment, economy, society, and we could not be more excited to codify those values with our Certified B Corp status. This project is being undertaken in partnership with The University of Georgia’s Sustainability Capstone class. The team is lead by Master’s student Grace Anne Ingham (on left), a current student in the UGA Sustainability Certificate.