The Journal / Breath

Breathing fresh air into a business

With Camila Garcia, B Lab France’s co-president

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Camila Garcia Quijano is co-president of B Lab France, the NGO which leads and develops the B Corp movement in France. The latter brings together 400 French companies, including, since December 2023, Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite, which has recently obtained the B Corp label. It redraws the contours of companies, and of our society, to make them more inclusive, respectful of nature and the common good.

The B Corp movement, which means “Benefit Corporation” (“Entreprise à bénéfices” in French), was founded in the United States in 2006. What kind of “benefits” are we talking about?

The goal of the B Corp movement is for companies to continue making a profit, while having a positive impact on society. To do this, we rely on the “theory of change”. The vision behind this theory is to build a viable, inclusive, regenerative and equitable economy, which would not only benefit a handful of shareholders – but everyone.

How do you go about moving in this direction?

To attain the B Corp label, a company has to change its legal status: it must integrate societal goals, and a social and environmental objective.

Then we embark on a process of continuous improvement. The B Impact Assessment (BIA), an impact management and measurement tool set up by B Lab, is designed to evaluate a company at a given moment, and give it guidelines for moving forward. We operate with a points system: to obtain the label, you need a minimum of 80/200. Every 3 years, the company is audited again for the renewal of its certification.

But if you have 90 points when we arrive, 3 years later, you don’t have to have 100! Because our evaluation criteria also evolve: we review them to adapt them to current challenges. Our new standards will come out in 2024 or 2025, and they’ll be even harder to meet.

How is B Corp positioned, among all the existing standards and labels? Alongside the organic standards AB, Demeter, ISO 26,000… What does it mean to have the B Corp label in addition to these?

They aren’t comparable benchmarks. Some of them are attributed to a product, but at B Corp, we look at the entire value chain: production methods, working conditions, external stakeholders, transport of goods, etc. The BIA has a holistic vision of the company.
The ISO 26000 standard doesn’t guarantee certification, it is a guide designed to help organisations with their sustainable development approach. It is an essential standard in terms of CSR, which is less well known by the general public than B Corp.

The other difference is the community: joining B Corp means joining a collective. When a company decides to join us, the entire community works together to achieve shared positive goals. We are creating working groups focusing on the climate, modes of governance, issues of diversity and inclusion… There is a shared vision.

The issues we are addressing are so big that a company, all on its own, can’t face them alone. As part of the collective, there is a sense of openness but also of perfecting ourselves, pushing us to go further and surpass what we’ve already achieved.

“Consumers aren’t looking for perfect companies… because they don’t exist.

How can you tell the difference between a company that is committed to ecology and a company that engages in greenwashing? Where is the difference, or the line?

Great question! Something I’ve noticed is that consumers aren’t looking for perfect companies… because they don’t exist. People want transparency. When a company accepts its shortcomings and sees the road ahead, it can say openly: “I’m here, but I’m aiming to go there”. When we communicate about this in a clear and transparent manner, it’s understood. But nowadays, many companies find it difficult to get on board with the idea of transparency.

B Corp can be a powerful tool on this subject: on the BIA website, you can consult the ratings of each company and check whether what they say is true or false. The B Corp label, in my eyes, already encourages trust. This means that the company is not perfect, but that it agrees with the principle of transparency, and that it is part of a process of continuous improvement. When I see how complex it is to obtain certification, that already demands a certain level of respect.

“When a company accepts its shortcomings and sees the road ahead, it can say openly: “I’m here, but I’m aiming to go there”.

What do you see as the main obstacles within companies to getting started? Understanding the process, the budget, the legal aspect…?

Our current blocks are related to the inability to reflect internally. We have to ask ourselves how we can support our teams, how we’ll enable them to do things differently. Which brings me onto education: training is a small investment which can make all the difference.

Especially since I’m convinced that, right now, most people want to get involved in a societal or ecological cause.

Should companies be making this commitment in 2024? Do you think this is one of their responsibilities now?

Ought we? Or rather… Do we have a choice? I’m certain of one thing: if a company doesn’t change today, it won’t exist tomorrow.

To wrap up, do you have any advice for people reading this who want to transform their business? Whether they are employees or employers?

I have one, and only one piece of advice: dare to do it! We can’t just sit there and say to ourselves “Oh, I don’t know what to do to change things…” We have to go for it.

“The B Corp certification allowed rapid and concrete mobilisation of CSR”

Jean-Luc Vincent, CSR and Sponsorship Director at DBR Lafite, and Karine Briane, Sustainable Development Manager, are the two architects of our B Corp certification, obtained in 2023. They tell us all about it.

Our CSR approach gained momentum in 2010, when the Sustainable Development charter was drafted, which is still relevant today. Its content underlined a strongly held belief: to promote Sustainable Development as a responsibility for individuals, society and our Earth. So 15 years ago, our long-term approach was launched.

B Corp certification allowed rapid and concrete CSR mobilisation internally – which was one of our primary objectives. It also allowed us to better assess the strengths and weaknesses of our processes and practices, and to define our new priorities for change. This then had an impact on the atmosphere and motivation within the teams.

Using the B Corp framework as a tool for continuous improvement and evaluation of our CSR practices has encouraged the involvement of numerous employees through collaborative workshops and working groups. This has led to more concrete collaboration between our different sites. For example cross-training and exchanges, a stronger R&D team… or even the evaluation of our employees’ objectives and bonuses through the prism of CSR criteria.

Read also

DBR Lafite joins the B Corp community

After more than two years of efforts, we are honored to announce that all of our estates (Châteaux Lafite Rothschild, Duhart-Milon, L’Evangile, Rieussec, Paradis Casseuil, Domaine d’Aussières, Vina Los Vascos, Bodegas CARO, Domaine de Long Dai) have been labeled as B Corp.

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