10 Reflections on the B for Good Leaders Summit
Last week was the B for Good Leaders Summit in Rome! 🚀
Organized by Marcello Palazzi and Leen Zevenbergen who co-founded B Lab Europe in 2014, the gathering brought together leaders from certified and aspiring B Corps, Societá Benefit in Italy, Entreprise-a-Mission in France, investors, academics and government leaders.
The two-day programming was curated around five key themes:
+ Regenerative Economy
+ Corporate Activism
+ B Corps
+ Sustainable Finance
But the highlights were certainly the connections made across borders, sectors, industries, and companies big and small. It was an incredible opportunity to join forces to both exchange good practices on projects, ventures and innovations as well as continuing to challenge one another. The urgency to accelerate business transformation through meaningful actions was palpable, as well as the need to collaborate in order to achieve that.
Several leaders have shared their reflections on the event and what they have taken away from it. Below is a summarised curation of 10 different points of view we hope you enjoy!
“Three insights from this inspiring event:
· There is a need for a systemic change that cannot be addressed alone: It requires collaboration with other actors and institutions.
· There is the need for board commitment: Change needs to come from the board.
· Leading the transformation of processes and systems requires a personal transformation: These changes have to be led with authenticity and connecting to the why of our existence.”
“14 Observations from the B for Good Leaders Summit, including:
- ‘Radical’ is subjective — there was lots of talk about what was ‘radical’. Radical activism, radical change, radical transparency. This is very much dependent on your starting point and it would be good to review radical change through a more compassionate lense. Rather than an ‘uber-radical’ firm stick the boot in when a big bugger of a corporation has made a significant change and shift in direction (note, the big bugger has to have taken genuine action in this scenario), we acknowledge the difference in scale and the starting point and celebrate it as a win
- Power is important — We need to earn it, exercise it and deliver responsibly against it if we’re to smash through the status quo
- But so is compassion — A movement has to be inclusive by nature. That’s not to say we shouldn’t denounce poor action and hold accountable those that are making things worse. But if we have a leader or a brand knocking on the door wanting to join in, and have put in some hard yards, we should embrace them not exclude them. That door should always be kept open”
“We need new leaders within this movement. We need imagination, creativity and new ways of thinking to really drive this new concept of business as a force for good, and I champion Peter Blom, CEO from Triodos who had the courage to support my comments questioning that the measure of success should still be profit saying: “We’re not pricing things at their true cost. We need an economy where the true cost is reflected, and in which we start to price and value what matters.” Amen.
Why B Corp Leaders must move beyond the triple bottom line by Lucy von Sturmer, Founder of Creatives for Climate & The Humblebrag
“If we are to solve the huge challenges we are faced with, we need to move beyond our egos and ask how we can live a life of servitude, no matter the leavers we decide to pull. Our greatest disease is our illusion of separateness, whether that is with each other or with nature, two big themes that ran throughout the few days in Rome.
It is clear that a knowledge-action gap remains quite prevalent. More organisations need radical solutions to rethink their paradigms and business models. There is no right way to do the wrong thing, full stop. And this means asking ourselves difficult questions courageously. As Rolland put it so rightly, “we need pessimism of the intellect, which penetrates every illusion, and optimism of the will” to overcome what’s ahead of us. Action, less words.
However, in this moment of multiple crises, I’m quite positive that we’re ready to take a leap away from the status quo.”
✨Businesses are not about the product, they are about people. Let’s put people at the heart of the strategy!
✨Boards have a main role, that is why they need to be inclusive, put sustainability and people at the heart of the discussions, and bring real expertise and knowledge, as well as an empty chair!
✨Education, education and education!
👉Leaders, let’s do not forget that change is more than ever in our collective hands. Let this be a summit after which real actions do take place.
“At this week’s B For Good Leaders Summit there was a recurring theme I can’t get out of my head: power.
Taken on its own I find it a pretty scary word, particularly in light of current world events. But at Marcello Palazzi and Leen Zevenbergen’s carefully curated event in Rome it manifested in many different ways.
We need to put aside ego, fear and the need for control and instead ask, listen and respond. We need a new approach to the challenge that is based in a shift in leadership consciousness — away from the need to understand and manage everything and into an era of learning by doing. Try, fail, learn, repeat. Empower your teams and ecosystems to do the same. “The more you are an expert, the less you know. If you follow the rules you won’t change anything” because the rules are no longer fit for purpose.”
“Why is it important to change the rules? We looked at the Societá Benefit in Italy and the Société à Mission in France.
Why working together is critical? Great example from the Communauté des Entreprises à Mission in France to share, enrich and spread the model.
Could we go further and design European guidelines? This sounds exciting!”
“Under the expert moderation of Tom Cummings and Laurie J Spengler (thanks to you both), the Innpact team and Marcello Palazzi presented the concept of “B Finance,” a collaborative finance platform enabling B Corps to finance B Corps.
We now have our roadmap laid down for the platform with inputs on the needs of the B Corps, of the investors and overarching B Finance principles aligned with B Corps founding principles.”
“Reflecting on the Summit would certainly take pages but some of the quotes that I will remember are:
“We don’t hire people to make brownies. We make brownies to hire people.” –Joseph Kenner, President and CEO, Greyston
‘’GDP was created to show that capitalism was better than communism. Financial accounting must be redefined’’ –Enrico Giovannini
“In order to combat climate change we already know what we have to do — Renewable Energy and Regenerative Agriculture. The first gets CO2 out of the air and the second puts it into the ground and keeps it there.” –Hunter Lovins, President Natural Capitalism Solutions
‘’What we are experiencing is a crisis of Greed’’ –Paul Polman, President of Global Compact
“Taking a step back from the day-to-day to connect and exchange with 500 executives striving to create a better world offered me fresh perspectives. The power of well-curated conference audiences is gigantic — grateful to have been invited and be part of this.
Everyone at the conference held such incredible ethos and the right beliefs. The belief that business should always be a source for good. That we should serve all our stakeholders — for people, planet, and profit, creating a net positive value. That revenues should be the result of your impact, not the objective itself. And that we are radically dependent on each other; the golden rule for our decision-making.”