It Pays to Become a B Corporation

From Harvard Business Review

By Richard Stammer

At Cabot Creamery Cooperative, we’ve seen firsthand that combining corporate self-interest with support for social and environmental issues is not a costly distraction. Quite the opposite, as a cooperative owned by dairy farm families, our focus on social and environmental issues has helped our company achieve an indisputable competitive advantage in our marketplace.

Yet, when the marketing team suggested that Cabot become a certified B Corporation, I was skeptical. Didn’t we already “self-monitor” our sustainability initiatives? Why did we need an outside certification? But when I learned that our retail partners had recently started asking about the impact of our sustainability programs, I agreed that Cabot would undergo the rigorous B Corp certification process to provide an objective measure.

In 2012, Cabot became a certified B Corp. To my surprise, certification not only addressed the questions posed by our retail partners but also delivered value beyond our expectations. B Corp certification encouraged more “whole-systems thinking” around our social and environmental practices, which led Cabot to develop even more robust customer and consumer programs, cut operating costs, and strengthen our brand reputation as a sustainability-minded company.

Our story is not unique. For Cabot and the B Corp community, certification objectively demonstrates our strong commitment to sustainability at a time when more consumers support companies dedicated to social and environmental change, and as investors, the public, and the media hold companies to higher standards.