Laura Harnett founder of Seep

”To make genuine progress, the world doesn’t need more greenwash” says Laura Harnett, founder of Seep

As we approach the end of B Corp month, I can’t help but notice the celebrations have felt a bit muted this year.

The eco and socially conscious B Corp movement has had a tough time recently. To quote a buyer a couple of weeks ago: “If Brewdog and Nespresso can get it, isn’t that proof B Corp isn’t what it used to be?” I’ve heard this a lot from critics – is it time to bin B Corp? I, for one, think not.

The B Corp movement has done something many ‘eco’ initiatives only dare to dream of: established a global brand that consumers have started to recognise.

Amid all the headlines about how leadership, companies and products are failing us, B Corp’s stamp of approval offers a rare ray of hope. It highlights the people out there who not only share a vision for business as a force for good, but are prepared to put the effort in to secure it – with 8,000 companies and growing.

Is B Corp perfect? Absolutely not. But perfection is an illusion. And, as anyone who has ever aimed for perfection knows, one of two things happen: its elusiveness burns you out or paralyses you into doing nothing. Perfection prevents progress. And, as our stewardship of our planet approaches a crisis point, what we need most is progress.

It would be easy to banish B Corp to history for its failure to be perfect, but what do we have to take its place? Nothing. And even were something else to emerge, that wouldn’t be perfect either. It’s likely we would similarly rush to tear that down when it inevitably stumbles.

Ricky Gervais is credited for saying: “It’s better to create something others criticise than to create nothing and criticise others.” As a business founder, I think there is great truth to that. But we can’t just dismiss the critics – they too have a valuable role.

To make genuine progress, the world doesn’t need more greenwash. Every organisation, however grand or simple its mission, needs someone who can hold up a mirror to its progress and make sure it remains true to itself. B Corp ought to be no exception to this.

Are its measures and processes open to manipulation from some disingenuous companies? Of course, but name me something that isn’t. You don’t chop down the tree for its failure to produce an entire season of perfect apples. Instead you enhance the conditions that encourage the tree to grow stronger. That is exactly what B Corp is in the process of doing now, with the planned introduction of its new standards in 2025 after an extensive period of consultation.

B Corp certification isn’t the destination. It’s an entry requirement to an ultra-marathon for those dedicated to joining a journey towards better business.

B Corp must, of course, keep evolving and strengthening its qualifying criteria, and it needs those who will hold up a mirror to its certification standards. But in this defining moment, what B Corp needs most is advocates, not just critics.