The yellow and blue economic circle, as well as the process of corporate transformation under the coronavirus, have brought us closer to focus on the sustainable development of society and enterprises. Is it a long-term viable option to win the market politically? In addition to political consciousness, what ideology does the public care about? What kind of economic circle would have a positive effect on society?
An economy that benefits for all, regardless of color
Regardless of whether it is the yellow economy or blue economy, the continued development of the economic circle depends on the maintenance of the ecosystem, allowing members to thrive organically. A mature economic ecosystem requires the complementary support of upper, middle, and downstream support in order to promote the recycling of value-added resources, consolidating cross-industry support.
The values advocated by any economic circle should have the ability to inspire more people to identify and join, from a small number of innovators to more and more peers to participate in the process so that it continues to develop a positive network and cycle in the economy, and finally promote systemic change.
Consumptions based on political ideologies can provide support for some small shops in the short run. However, not prioritizing the competitiveness of products and strategy is a poor business model. Campaigners need to use a higher-level, more inclusive discourse to encourage and attract more supporters and drive the circular effect to develop an inclusive economy. The basis of the economic circle that is determined from a political position may undermine the needs of consumers, leaving little room for improvement.
Entering the 21st century, the consciousness of ethical consumption has become stronger, and society expects both the production and consumption side to bear greater social responsibility in Hong Kong and around the globe, rather than consume only based on preferences.
The green economic circle initiated by Northern Europe in recent years has successfully constructed a complete ecosystem with environmental protection watch as well as economic and financial means, bringing forth a business movement united by common values, prompting more participation, and as a result, a chain effect causing systemic change.
The Revolution of the Times in Business
But how is the standard of conscious production and consumption defined? Although there is no universally accepted set of standards around the world, it is clear that the sole maximization of profit is not viable for sustainable development. For more than a decade, the business community has initiated the “B Economy” as a relatively viable path to sustainability.
The B Economy is a global business movement that uses the power of business to promote social inclusion and sustainable economic development. B stands “Benefit for all” and Chinese translates as “common benefits”, which is to create common prosperity for all.
The revolutionary campaign was launched in 2006 by three American entrepreneurs who founded the non-profit organization B Lab Global, which, based on cultural differences and development processes, has rigorously selected visionary entrepreneurs and innovators in various regions of the world to work together to create regional laboratories that will promote global standards for a shared economy by regional executives. Over the past 14 years, regional laboratories have spread throughout South America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, East Africa and other places. Canada has also become a national partner.
Earlier this year, B Lab (Hong Kong and Macau) was established. China, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan are in the process of setup and coordination. These regional organizations cooperate, communicate and support each other through close networking.
The economic circle attaches great importance to financial, social, and environmental triple bottom line. B Lab Global has developed a certification system for “B Impact Assessment” to assess enterprises in a comprehensive manner, covering five areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. The assessment covers more than 200 standards. The full score is 200, and businesses with a score over 80 can be certified as B Corporation (B Corp).
The B Impact Assessment will be optimized as social and environmental standards change, and the sixth version was introduced in 2019 to provide a high-level assessment and management tools. Certified B Corp must re-certify every three years in order to ensure there is a continuously high level of engagement from enterprises.
Since the B Corp movement has begun, 3,200 enterprises from more than 50 countries and regions around the world have participated, including multinational corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises and professional firms for lawyers, architects, and accountants. Every company wants to create meaningful jobs. Strategies can be different, where some focus on poverty alleviation, others pay attention to climate change and environmental protection. As for the brands that are familiar to Hong Kong people, Patagonia, Ben and Jerry’s and the Body Shop are certified B Corps. Participant Media, another B Corp that has won 19 Oscars, uses film to inspire audiences to understand and change social issues.
Original article written by Rebecca Yung, Co-Founder of B Lab (Hong Kong & Macau)