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B Corp: Creating A Movement To Build Better Businesses With Chris Marquis

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A B Corp Movement is happening within industries and could lead the way to create better businesses. Joining Corinna Bellizzi to explain what this means is Chris Marquis. Chris is the Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and the author of the award-winning book Better Business: How the B Corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism. In this episode, he explains the concepts surrounding the B Corp movement. Chris compares it to benefit corporations and explains greenwashing of companies and the role of capitalism. Understand better how companies can and should shift their corporate purpose and what consumers can do to vet the products they buy and the companies they buy them from by tuning in.

About Chris Marquis

CMBB 102 | B-Corp Movement

Chris Marquis is the Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and the author of the award-winning book Better Business: How the B Corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism. Prior to joining Cambridge, Marquis was the Samuel C. Johnson Professor in Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University, and before that spent 10 years at Harvard Business School. His research and teaching focus on how businesses are creating a more resilient and sustainable capitalism by focusing on the elusive triple bottom line of environmental, social and financial performance.

Website: https://www.chrismarquis.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-marquis-3884834/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Chris_Marquis_

Additional Resources Mentioned

Our Energy-to-Food Future – https://www.forbes.com/sites/christophermarquis/2022/07/15/our-energy-to-food-future/?sh=26ee15a85d8e

Nutrition Without Compromise Podcast, hosted by Corinna Bellizzi and presented by @orlonutrition – https://orlonutrition.com/pages/podcast

Örlö Nutrition – https://orlonutrition.com

Show Notes: 

00:00     Introduction

02:10     What is B-Corp?

03:38     Can a B Corp go public?

06:08     Criticisms on B Corp

11:09     The difference between B Corp and benefit corporations

14:05     How B Corps adjusted during the pandemic

17:19     How to ascertain greenwashing companies

22:11     Importance of critical thinking for consumers and the role of capitalism

32:44     The doughnut economy

35:51     How larger corporations can redefine corporate purpose

43:22     Final thoughts

45:52     Conclusion

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B Corp: Creating A Movement To Build Better Businesses With Chris Marquis

In one of my earliest episodes, as I interviewed Eliza Erskine, we dove into what it takes to become a B-corp and why supporting them is a critical path forward to be the change that you want to see in the world. We get to deepen this discovery as we get to know Christopher Marquis. Chris Marquis is the Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and the author of the award-winning book, Better Business: How The B-corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism.

Prior to joining Cambridge, Marquis was the Samuel C. Johnson Professor in Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University. Before that, he spent ten years at Harvard Business School. His research and teaching focus on how businesses are creating more resilient and sustainable capitalism by focusing on the elusive triple bottom line of environmental, social, and financial performance. Chris Marquis, welcome to the show.  

Thanks so much for having me. It’s great to be with you.

I want to get started by simply helping our audience understand again what a B-corp is and perhaps more importantly, what it is not.

A B-corp is a company that is certified for its social, environmental, and governance performance. Companies have to go through a systematic ESG assessment of their operations, score above a certain level, and then become a B-corp. They also must change their corporate governance to be stakeholders alike. In the US and many countries in the world, companies are legally beholden to shareholders. For B-corps, that has to be changed in the articles of incorporation of the company so that it’s not just shareholders but all stakeholders like employees, the community, and the environment that are important.

You asked also what B-corps are not. I’m not sure exactly how to answer that because I do think there are tons of companies that are locally focused and have great employee benefits. There are a lot of companies that are not B-corp that are doing a good job too although getting the third-party certification to learn about your operations for most of the companies I’ve talked to is usually worth it.

You brought up something as you were defining B-corps that is an important subject to cover. It’s one of the reasons that I have heard that many publicly traded companies or companies that seek to become publicly traded choose not to go to become B-corps because there are some limitations with how they operate and the sorts of things that they’re accountable for. Can you help us better understand how that plays in our current infrastructure? Can a B-corp go public?

A B Corp is a company that is certified for its social, environmental, and financial performance. Click To Tweet

B-corps can and are going public at record numbers. I was seeing my social media, a B-corp that works in the waste removal business headquartered in Kentucky in the United States called Rubicon went public and raised $2 billion. It’s pretty impressive. There are about fifteen or so B-corp public in the US markets. If you look around the world, maybe another 20 to 30 in places from Taiwan to Brazil to France. There are public B-corps all over the world. This is a new phenomenon though. When I started studying B-corps, it was in 2009 and 2010. I would teach on the subject and my students would say to me, “This is good for a company like Patagonia that is owned by one person, but public markets will never accept this.”

This is something that, through COVID, has taken off where investors are seeing a lot of value in companies that have a social mission. There’s a lot of academic research that shows that the more that companies measure and pay attention to long-term impacts like their employees, the lower their risk. Also, it’s an indicator of better management. I do think this is a trend that has been changing. There’s still a lot more that can be done in my opinion. If you look at the US in particular, Wall Street and Silicon Valley, these are tremendous short-term results-oriented cultures and systems. Few B-corps going public is a good leading signal, but if we’re going to change the systems, a lot more needs to be done.

I’ve heard some criticisms of B-corps in the past namely things like they need to go further than they presently are that this triple bottom line perspective doesn’t necessarily build in circular economies and that we need to be focused on turning capitalism on its head a little bit more to respect local communities, and to ensure that we essentially have the abilities to support ourselves, even in these little microcosmic ways. Especially over the course of the last couple of years during this COVID pandemic, we’ve seen supply chains completely break down and shelves run bare of key items that we have come to rely on, from diapers to whatever.

There’s something to be said that the system that we’re in is in some ways fundamentally broken. The idea of a B-corp is a positive thing that companies are making an effort to give back to their communities and be environmentally conscious and treat their employees well. The number of B-corps is always going to be small. There are about 5,000 or so. I don’t know if it’s in the US or around the world, there are like seven million companies. It is a drop in the bucket. One of the reasons why I do appreciate the model, and I can say a little bit about how it can go further, is I have come to understand and articulate in the book that the power of the movement is it’s not about just growing the number of B-corps. It’s about creating tools and processes so that all companies can be better for society and the environment.

I mentioned this ESG system that they’ve devised. This is something where there are hundreds of thousands of companies that use this system to learn, benchmark, and become better. Many of the companies that have gone through the B-corp certification have told me, “We were strong in our environment area but we didn’t realize that we’re lagging in some of our HR processes.” This is something where digging into the operations of the company can help you learn. This assessment has a lot of benchmarking tools in it so you can see what most socially responsible companies were doing.

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Better Business: How the B Corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism

Another tool is these governance tools or ways if you’re an LLC to amend your articles of incorporation. A new type of company called benefit corporations, which started in the US in 2010, in the State of Maryland. It spread through the US. There are about 40 US states now that have benefit corporations, most important Delaware. In 2016, this then hopped across the Atlantic and Italy, adopted benefit corporations, a number of other European company countries, Latin America, Columbia, Peru, Uruguay, Rwanda and Africa. This is now a new innovation in corporate governance that all companies in four different continents can engage in.

In the UK, the parliamentary system somewhere is working its way through something called the Better Business Act, which is a fundamental step change in this governance model, whereby all of the other legislation I mentioned are voluntary. If my company want to become a benefit corporation, we can do that. However, the Better Business Act changes the corporate code in the UK so that all companies by default will benefit corporations. They’ll be legally accountable to all stakeholders. When Elizabeth Warren was running for the Democratic nomination of 2020, she had something similar called the Accountable Capitalism Act, which did something similar, but it was only for the thousand largest US companies. It’s about these tools and processes.

I want to stop for a minute talking about benefit corporations because this is an interesting development. I featured Jens Molbak on this show. He has a company called NewImpact.Care, which is working to create a different language around this triple bottom line. He’s referring to it as more a tri-sector thing, going from public to private and also to social at the same time. You’re checking all these boxes and involving importantly the public sector and some of your business efforts.

There are many funds available to companies, which they don’t seem to necessarily know about or even plan to access. It’s this new stage of moving into business. When I was in graduate school at Santa Clara University graduating in 2021, I took a course on Social Benefit Entrepreneurship. We didn’t even cover benefit corporations at that time. This seems to be new in our parlance at the time. I am yet to fully understand what the difference is between a benefit corporation and a B-corp.

It’s interesting because there’s a variety of these different types of corporate forms that you’ll hear about, social purpose, corporation, LLC-3, I forgot what the LLC-3 stands for, those other ones have faded a little bit, benefit corporation has taken off. There are over 20,000 of these globally. The difference between a benefit corp and a B-corp is that a benefit corp is a legal form of company. You could be a C-corp, LLC, or benefit corp. This is something then when you file your registration documents in the US, it could be with Delaware or the state where you live, or some other location, or many times in Italy or other countries, there’s a national bureau. You could be a benefit corporation, legally recognized as such by a government somewhere.

If we're going to change the systems, a lot more needs to be done. Click To Tweet

A B-corp is a certification by the independent nonprofit B Lab. You have to go through this process of scoring through the ESG assessment. If a benefit corporation exists in your location, you have to be a benefit corp to be a B-corp. That’s one overlap. Also, the same set of people is responsible for both. B Lab was influential in getting benefit corporation legislation passed, particularly in the US. That’s the key difference. One is the illegal pipe. Another is an independent certification by an NGO.

One of the things I did learn was that during the pandemic, B-corp had to flex their muscles and change things too because they used to have some by-lines that essentially ensured that you were providing your employee force with an opportunity to get involved with local charities and things along those lines. For companies that went virtually exclusively remote, that was challenging to do.

They’ve even amended some of how they assess a business to move in favor of a virtual workforce, which is good. If each employee can positively affect their backyard as part of their work life, that’s a good thing. Essentially, you’re telling your staff, “We want you to engage with your local community in some way that matters to you and we want to support that.” I love that part of what it takes to be a B-corp. I wish that was something that all corporations would automatically do, but it’s not the case.

One of the things you mentioned that both inspired me, and one of the reasons why I have spent a lot of time studying this movement and writing about it is that it is ever evolving. I described the benefit corporation laws, which we went from one US state to now many countries, to now moving from voluntary to mandatory. Even the B-corp certification standards have undergone over time six revisions. Each time, if you think about when these were first formulated in 2006, it doesn’t seem like that long ago, but in this space, a lot has happened. Our knowledge and understanding of how to measure, track and assess have changed dramatically. A lot of it is because of B Lab pushing this forward.

You had a situation where maybe initially things were rough, and maybe not capturing things well. Next duration, it gets better. It adapts to the changing circumstances. Six generations in, it is a pretty refined system but always, but the world is changing. Bigger companies are being certified, which presents a lot of new challenges as well. I know there were news items around the investment industry.

CMBB 102 | B-Corp Movement
B Corp: The more that companies measure and pay attention to long-term impacts this actually lowers their risk and it’s also an indicator of better management.

Maybe these companies might be doing things like investing and measuring ESG space where maybe they weren’t considering who their clients were in social impact. B Lab said, “We’re going to put a moratorium on certifying any investment companies until we can feel like we can better judge whether these companies are living up to the values of the movement.” It’s a moving target but hopefully, getting better over time.

How do we ascertain if let’s say these venture capital firms are greenwashing essentially or social washing, whatever you want to call it when they go towards this benefit corporation or B-corp status?

This isn’t particularly an issue to think about for benefit corporations. Typically in benefit corporation laws, there are transparency and assessment requirements. Many times, companies aren’t doing that or they’re not doing it in a rigorous way. Just because a company says the benefit corporation doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s doing good. It could certainly be greenwashing. I’ve started to wonder about the use of transparency as a way to get companies to not greenwash. There’s the famous Louis Brandeis, former US Supreme Court justice, who said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” By having transparency in the media, the general public can check on things.

That is the way to make sure that companies and other entities are doing a good job. With so much information and misinformation in our world nowadays, we need more than just transparency in information. We need to have assessments and certifications. My assessment is the companies that have gone through the assessment by B Lab is a rigorous assessment. I have more confidence that they are not greenwashing because they’ve been assessed by a third party. Nothing is perfect.

You look at financial reporting, there is detailed financial reporting that has to be audited. There are companies that come out every so often and you hear they’re cooking the books. That will happen. Having audit requirements and the SEC is tremendously important in making sure the companies are doing what they say. I do think that getting over greenwashing and having an independently verified assessment is one way to help combat that.

Having independent verified assessment is one way to help combat greenwashing. Click To Tweet

Essentially what you’re saying is when you move in this direction, it becomes regulated.

You would need more third-party. It’s a shame. The US SEC has been attempting to introduce more ESG requirements for companies, but it has been a huge minefield from both the left and the right. People like Mike Pence and other people, including Elon Musk are weighed in on this. This is something where it’s like woke capitalism that we’re moving this situation where companies are being asked to do all these unfair things because social justice people are crazy or something. I don’t know. This riles up people on the right. On the left, it is relatively limited to what the SEC is asking companies to do.

This should go much further. Potentially, those have a greenwashing effect because it’s limited. Right now, it’s a tough thing to figure out. My personal belief is it’s a positive step. I’ve been studying this area for many years now. I see that you get in some ways the elephant’s tusk under the tent or your toe in the door, and then you keep building from there. I am in favor of the SEC being able to introduce these and still keep the pressure on for them to make sure it’s authentic, to make sure that they keep expanding the list. I do think that this is a situation where the government requiring these behaviors of companies is essential.

I’ve been stifling a laugh since you said Elon Musk. What’s the next company he’s going to tweet about buying to disrupt the marketplace?

It was the Manchester United soccer team or football team.

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B Corp: The power of the movement is that it’s actually not just about growing the number of B Corps, but creating tools and processes so that all companies can be better for society and the environment.

I don’t think that some people should be allowed to have a Twitter account. Let’s put it that way. As it stands now, I feel like we’re having a healthy discussion about where things are here. There is no perfect model. That is a reality across the board. There are going to be people that take advantage of these systems. They might not have a physical presence in a state and get certified as a benefit corporation in that state because they can, and then utilize that as some feather in their cap to grow their business. One of the things that I have a little bit of an issue with has to do with all of the third-party certifications that are being heavily marketed out there. As a marketer, you get to a point where it’s almost like you have a badge war on your labels. You have to figure out how you even communicate these messages.

Part of the problem is that there isn’t regulation around some of these things. Specifically, I would point to GMOs. There are a lot of movements against any mandatory GMO labeling. People have ignited fires with the non-GMO project and essentially gone in that direction instead. Even the non-GMO project won’t certify certain ingredients even if the documentation is good, simply because they don’t want to touch that particular area.

I’ll give one example. Gelatin is often used to encapsulate supplements. I’m in the supplements industry so I know a fair amount about this. Because many cattle are fed non-organic grains or they can’t adequately document what the cattle were fed that ended up being processed for gelatin, they simply won’t award a non-GMO project verified seal to any product that is encapsulated in gelatin.

That’s all moving in the direction of wanting to encapsulate alternate materials. I work with Orlo Nutrition. They were encapsulated in seaweed. There are other alternatives out there now, but they’re a lot more costly by comparison. It takes a while for a bigger business that is already established to make some of these choices. What ends up happening is it’s the small little guys that come out with products, trying to work hard to create things as I’ve done with Orlo Nutrition. The costs that you incur for each of those certifications are high when you’re at that small scale.

It becomes something that can be a little bit untenable in the beginning. If the consumer is essentially guided to only choose products that bear this seal, it doesn’t necessarily serve the smaller businesses that are working to come up and create responsible products. One of the things I like to tell people is that use your brain a little bit. Ask a few questions. If you feel like you’re getting answers that seemed informed rather than dismissive, you’re probably okay. We want to support local businesses. We want to support your backyard, a chicken farmer who’s selling their eggs at the farmer’s markets as opposed to an organic certified one through the grocery store shelf.

B Corps are a good example of how companies can be more ESG-focused. Click To Tweet

If you’re thinking about these things and you connect with people in a different way, then you can support a local sustainable economy. You can support brands that you know and love even sometimes if they don’t bear these third-party seals. It’s what I like to counsel people to do. Think critically. Use your brain.

It’s funny, I think about the book that I wrote. The name B-corp is in the title. That has hurt the message of the book. People sometimes misinterpret what I’m saying. B-corps are a good example of how companies can be more ESG-focused. The overall message is that all businesses and all consumers should be thinking about these topics. I’m in no way saying every business, even the majority of businesses should be B-corp. Consumers should be thinking about socioenvironmental aspects in their decision-making. Going to the farmer’s market and finding products that are made locally or grown locally is a wonderful thing to do because you’re connecting with people in your community and also learning yourself and informing yourself, which will then help in future purchases. I wholeheartedly concur with your point.

It’s a practical application of not necessarily even critical thinking, but asking questions and getting involved. I don’t think it’s that hard to send an email if you’re confused by something. I don’t think it’s that hard to go to Amazon and look at a product and say, “I only see this on Amazon.” Maybe it’s not a responsible product. You can’t find any information somewhere else that probably tells you that the people responsible for it may be essentially contracted manufacturers and they don’t take any specific responsibility for the product. We have that lens and we think about things a little bit more critically. I’m not asking people to dive into the nitty-gritty the way I might, it’s just a few questions that can get us there.

Is it organically grown? Great. Is it organically certified? It might not be. It’s a local little egg producer. Does it contain GMOs? It might not have the non-GMO project verified seal. If they’re able to answer the questions in a thoughtful way, then you probably have the answers that you need. The power of intention and building a business is also important. I like to support the little guys too. Sometimes there are some fantastic products produced by little guys that haven’t necessarily gone through those rigors yet. As we seek to build better businesses and a better future, I want to better understand how you believe B-corps are remaking capitalism because that’s the subtitle of your book. How are they specifically remaking capitalism?

Another word that’s in the title is movement. It’s not necessarily B-corps, but it’s this movement around better business, which includes policymakers like Elizabeth Warren who I talked about quite a bit in my book about what happened with the Accountable Capitalism Act. Lawyers and legal scholars are advancing laws in this area. Investors, which many of them are trapped in this Wall Street, Silicon Valley short-term-ism. A lot of them are trying to use their capital to support new companies and new models.

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B Corp: That’s the key difference between a benefit corporation and B Corp: one is a legal pipe and the other is an independent certification by an NGO.

A number of these B-corps are going public now. There are investors. There are VC investors that are supporting them because these are all VC-funded companies, which then go public. The entrepreneurs and companies that are at the core of trying to make these models work in their company where they are responsible, inequitable, sustainable, regenerative, and all of these important words that are becoming more and more defined.

It’s about a movement that encompasses all of these different actors and academics. Myself writing about this and talking to you about other podcasts is part of this as well. Some might say capitalism is a broken system and we should abandon it. I can see that logic but also, there are a lot of positives that come in some ways like an economic engine that wouldn’t be there if there was not this market that existed. For instance, Orlo Nutrition, the work that you’re doing around creating this regenerative algae-based omega-3. If there was not a market for that, probably you wouldn’t be able to do that. I can’t imagine the government or NGO coming up with a creative system based on geothermal energy. I don’t even remember all the exact details.

There is the creativity and innovation engine that capitalism provides, but a lot of guard rails need to be created and recreated. All these actors from policy, law, investors, and entrepreneurs are the ones that can help do that. The last 50 years where businesses focused on shareholders has resulted in a system where there’s this tremendous economic inequality that has been created and wealth has been accumulated among the richest people. We need to work as a society, business, and policy to try to change that. I do think that abandon the positives. We would lose a lot.

People say that capitalism is essentially a model for innovation because there’s so much incentive to innovate and to create something new. I’m wondering as we go through this entire discussion, what your thoughts are about the economic principles referred to as a donut economy. People say circular too. How do you see that laying into our future from an economic perspective?

The donut economy ideas are hugely important. I’m going to talk about it at a general level because of the specifics, I haven’t reviewed it in a bit. This is ingenious, this idea of a donut. We have these planetary boundaries, which in some ways are the outside of the donut that we can’t exceed. Also, a negative threshold we don’t want to exceed. We want to live in a different era be it carbon or inequality or whatever. Within this not too much, not too little, respecting the planetary boundaries, but also human needs, because much of what we’re talking about, there is a tension underlying economic and social activity in the world.

Consumers should be thinking about social environmental aspects in their decision-making. Click To Tweet

You have an interest in growing economically, but unfortunately in this environment, that requires burning carbon in most cases. How do you balance that? In places like the US or Europe, we’ve grown a lot economically. In my opinion, we take the lead in trying to reduce. When we look at a place like Africa or some places in Southeast Asia, it’s a much harder equation there. These are societies that have not yet had the chance to grow economically. To say you have to not admit to any carbon seems a little unfair given that 75% of historical carbon emissions, I can’t remember it’s the US or the West in general.

One of the things I like about donut economics is that it illustrates that there’s a tension involved and also then defines a number of different areas where that tension manifests itself. Also, the idea that there are these planetary boundaries that we should not go beyond. For a few of them, we have started to go beyond. I haven’t read up on it but in general, I’m a big fan of that work.

It’s interesting too that even looking at the back cover of your book, Better Business: How the B-corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism, you have a quote here from Emmanuel Faber, who’s the Chairman and CEO of Danone. “Better business is a compelling demonstration of how redefining the corporate purpose can have an impact at scale.” I learned that Danone has invested $7 million in Alexia Akbay’s company, Symbrosia, which is working essentially to create a methane emission solution by feeding cows seaweed so that they produce less methane. That is important to somebody like Danone because their products are dairy-based.

They’re going to be incentivized to reduce their emissions imprint. If they’re able to get that methane production way down, that’s going to support them overall because methane is incredibly difficult to reduce and understand that we can’t draw it down from the atmosphere. It’s more impactful in a way than carbon emissions are from that perspective.

I’m curious to see how some of these multinational, larger corporations shift and grow with time, especially as some of these regulations become more commonplace. Also, if I could get a few from you, let’s say a company started as a standard S-corp or an LLC became a corporation, whatnot, and they then were B-corp certified. Now their state has another option of being a benefit corporation now. Do they have to go through and refile? Can one of these larger companies do so to retain B-corp status? I don’t know. I’m curious.

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B Corp: With so much information and misinformation in our world nowadays, we need more than just transparency in information. We need to have assessments and certifications.

They have to research. If a B-corp wants to retain their B-corp and B-corp status, and if their location passes benefit corporation law, that’s a requirement of the certification. Some companies in the past have certified as a result of that. The first benefit corporation law was passed in 2010. There was a series of companies that started early B-corps before there were any big benefit corporation laws. In some ways, the rules changed on them, but B Lab felt that this is something that you have to make sure that your legal form and your governance are aligned with your mission. They gave companies a long window to do that, four years they give companies.

Number of it at the time, the highest profile B-corps ended up decertified because their investors and board felt that this benefit corporations status or legal form is a little untested. They were worried about it. Some examples of these were Etsy, which was an early B-corp, Honest Company, also an early B-corp, and Warby Parker another one. The interesting thing though, and why it’s an important story to think about is that Warby Parker went public maybe in 2021. Right before going public, they converted to a benefit corporation and recertified as a B-corp after not being a B-corp for probably 5 or 6 years because of this legal requirement. I interviewed them. I did the case study on Warby Parker along, and nothing to do with their B-corp certification. It’s that they were early adopters of one model.

I got to know some of the senior people there when they probably have 20 or 30 employees. I interviewed them for this book. They said it was about this benefit corporation change nowadays. It was 2018 when I was writing that book or 2019 or so. They said, “Nowadays, this has been tested. We probably would make a different decision.” As it turns out, they ended up recertifying and changing right before going public because that’s obviously something where if you want to go public, that’s a big change. You’re presenting yourself to the public markets. I do think that to your question about changing to a benefit corporation, it is an issue for some companies, although less and less so because it is something that is more and more known nowadays.

The Danone case is interesting because many times when I’m interviewing companies about work in regenerative agriculture, Danone comes up as a company that is either involved in funding or sponsoring their work. I was unfamiliar with this work of feeding cows seaweed, but there’s another dairy producer. They’re in the Midwestern US. Danone has worked with them to create a much more regenerative system on their farms. There’s an investment company called rePlant Capital that is raising a $2 billion soil fund to try to help farmers get off the big ag like Archer Daniels, Midland and Monsanto, even though I know there has been a bunch of mergers and those companies don’t exist anymore. These large gigantic agriculture companies have these patented seeds and you have to buy their patented chemicals

Companies get trapped like debt trapped almost. It’s usually farmers because of the system where they’re locked into this having to buy these new seeds every year and having to buy the chemicals. They borrow money from these companies. The soil fund, which Danone is part of supporting is to help farmers get off of this system and also help them with expertise and equipment to become much more regenerative. The Danone case is a good example of how a large company can move the needle by a lot of different actions.

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B Corp: There is a creativity and innovation engine that capitalism provides, but a lot of guardrails need to be created and recreated.

I’ve mentioned their investment in Alexia Akbay’s company probably five times on five different episodes since it had happened. I will gladly send you the press release. If you ever feel like making an introduction to Emmanuel Faber, I would love to talk to him. I had scheduled an interview with Alexia on my other podcast, Nutrition Without Compromise, so we could get into this whole reality of the methane production of animals and how we can move in a more healthy direction. The realities are the so-called carbon-negative farming future is attainable. These animals can sequester carbon and create soil in their excrement, essentially helping us rebuild our soil. This whole soil fund you’re talking about is quite interesting to me.

I also saw that there are some pretty prominent spiritual leaders like Sadhguru out there talking about soil now. The movement is even going into the spiritual realm, which is amazing. I didn’t expect him to undertake that mental, but if you go to Sadhguru’s Twitter feed, the entire backdrop is all about that. We’re going to make at least a billion climate activists over the course of the next few years because it’s not getting cooler anytime soon. That’s for sure. I enjoyed this conversation. I know I could keep recording forever, but I want to ask you before we prepared a wrap if there’s a question that you wish I’d asked that I haven’t. If there is, you could ask and answer it. If not, you could leave us with some closing thoughts perhaps about your book or your work.

You’ve hit a lot of interesting questions that I appreciate you pushing me and being provocative. I’ve answered a lot of the standard questions a lot. It was a fun and interesting conversation. In closing, my message is that we all as consumers need to be conscious of our decisions. It doesn’t have to have all the certifications, but people should use their logic and brain and shop locally, and talk to the people who are producing. The money that we spend is the most important force that we can have for making the world better. I hope that all of us will be more and more conscious consumers in the future.

It doesn’t have to be hard either. That’s the point I like to make. You could use common sense to a certain extent and ask a few key questions. Don’t buy the cheapest thing on the shelf just because it’s the cheapest. I want to encourage everybody here to go ahead and connect with you, Chris. They can find you on your website, which is ChrisMarquis.com. His book is there, other ways to reach him, some connection to his writing. I’ve even had the pleasure of being featured in a Forbes article you wrote. I want to thank you again for that. That was a proud moment for me. It was my first Forbes feature.

It’s my pleasure. It was great talking. I enjoyed it.

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Guest

  • Chris Marquis is the Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and the author of the award-winning book Better Business: How the B Corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism. Prior to joining Cambridge, Marquis was the Samuel C. Johnson Professor in Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University, and before that spent 10 years at Harvard Business School. His research and teaching focus on how businesses are creating a more resilient and sustainable capitalism by focusing on the elusive triple bottom line of environmental, social and financial performance.

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