Challenging B Lab

GOOD, with 19 signatories, and the support of Clean Creatives & Creatives for Climate, recently wrote to B Lab UK for clarity on their ambiguous stance on granting accreditation to agencies who work with fossil fuel clients.  

Chris Norman, CEO and Founder of GOOD, explains why:

At GOOD, we’re proud to be the UK’s highest scoring marketing & communications B Corp agency. We believe in B Lab (the body that grants B Corp accreditation) and their mission to make “all business a force for good.” 

However, earlier in the summer, Chris Turner, Exec Director of B Lab UK, said in an interview with The Drum, that “B Lab has not stipulated the exact industries that B Corps cannot work with.” Within the context of Shell’s media account being up for review, this means that B Corp agencies could be pitching for Shell. It also means that current B Corp agencies could have fossil fuel clients. 

We believe that by granting B Corp certification to agencies who work with fossil fuel and high polluter clients, B Lab is fundamentally undermining the purpose of the accreditation.  

With the backing of 19 other global agencies, Clean Creatives & Creatives for Climate, we wrote to Chris Turner & B Lab UK. We asked for B Lab to take a hard line on those who work with fossil fuel clients. We asked for not working with fossil fuel and high-polluting clients to be a requirement of achieving B Corp accreditation.  

B Lab have very clear guidelines with regards to fossil fuel companies: “B Lab has specific requirements for companies in this sector – businesses involved in the production & sale of fossil fuels, including those that generate or sell energy derived from fossil fuels, would only be eligible for B Corp Certification if they are not engaged in specific prohibited practices regarding extraction, lobbying, & financial incentives; have successfully transitioned their energy portfolio to be at least 50% carbon-free; & have committed to making progress towards transitioning to a fully carbon-free portfolio within specified timeframes.” 

Our question at GOOD is why should the standards be different for those who work with fossil fuel companies that don’t meet these criteria? How can any B Corp business support, facilitate, fund and promote the very fossil fuel businesses that B Lab won’t work with? 

In the creative, communications, production and media sectors there are B Corp agencies that are working with the fossil fuel businesses that derive 95%+ of their revenues from fossil fuel, and that percent has been growing. They are also working with the businesses that enable and fund these fossil fuel companies. This is ambiguous at best, disingenuous & hypocritical at worst. It’s also dangerous, as it gives the fossil fuel businesses and their enablers a cloak of acceptability. A B Corp cloak.

By not being prepared to live by their own standard, B Lab set back their own mission by years, if not totally undermining the very foundations it was built on. 

The response from Chris Turner, and B Lab UK was ambiguous, effectively saying that it’s a grey area and the nature of the system means there’s no clear answer. We have been invited, along with the signatory agencies, to meet and discuss this further. This is taking place mid-September 2023. 

We hope that what comes from the discussion is clarity, clear commitment and strong leadership from B Lab. To tackle the climate crisis, we need that commitment and leadership. We all strive to achieve B Corp status because we want to drive change, and we’re prepared to make tough decisions to achieve that change. We hope this movement drives B Lab to do the same, for the future of the planet.  

Read more about this in The Drum here