Charmian is the Co-Founder and Chair of B Lab UK, where she supports the growth of B Corporations across the UK (and beyond) and is Co-Chair of B Lab’s Global Climate Taskforce where she is a member of the UNFCCC’s Marrakesh Partnership. Charmian discusses practical approaches to broadening points of view on Boards of Directors, what makes B Corporations different and much more.
Both/And not Either/Or:
We can walk and chew gum at the same time. It’s not profit or purpose, it’s profit and purpose. This idea of ‘Both/And’ means that business should be about shareholders and stakeholders, rather than making it an Either/Or decision.
Create healthy tension in board meetings through activist engagement:
As a business, how can you take activist movements into account? Some businesses bring activists into their board meetings to listen to different points of view. Activist movements are a shaping dynamic for business operations so it’s important to bring stakeholder voices into boardroom conversations. To be clear, it’s not necessarily going to be comfortable to take this approach but I also think the best Board discussions are ones where there’s a healthy tension. An openness to talking about things that are uncomfortable. Generally in life, when you get into uncomfortable conversations there’s usually learning that is happening.
Articles of association differentiate a B Corp:
B Corps are companies that have been certified by B Lab because they have extremely high levels of performance when it comes to governance, how they engage with their workers, how they support their supply chains and local community, how they take into account the environment, etc. They’re also assessed on their business models including how they generate revenue and how that revenue is used. B Corp certification requires companies to amend Articles [of Association or Incorporation] to be explicit about the role of the director to equally consider shareholders and stakeholders in the decisions that they make. This responsibility is then hardwired into a company’s DNA.