Converging crises demand collective action - reflections from our CEO
As I write this the eyes of the world are on Ukraine. We are bearing witness to the courage and solidarity of an extraordinary people, as they defend their lives, land and freedom from unprovoked Russian aggression and atrocities. Our hearts are broken, our humanity open. May this be an awakening for the leader in each of us: our freedom, humanity and future are worth fighting for.
Ukrainian refugees join millions around the world displaced by violent conflict and political instability. Another one billion will be displaced by 2050 if we fail to avert catastrophic climate change.
The long-term challenges we face are deeply entrenched, interconnected and cannot be addressed in isolation. Leaders from across society must challenge the status quo and work across traditional divides. Yet a single-minded focus on short-term returns for shareholders continues to dominate business at large, exacerbating inequality and halting social progress and urgent climate action. Existing norms and incentive structures are still not aligned with the just and sustainable future that The B Team, and indeed many business leaders, have embraced. We desperately need to reset the rules of our economic system.
We also need to disrupt the conformity in leadership that brought us to this point. When we change who is in leadership by closing gender, racial and generational gaps, we change how we lead. This is critical to co-creating trusted pathways to the future our children deserve... Read the full letter
We are in the race of our lives to halve greenhouse gas emissions, halt and reverse nature loss, and reduce inequality–and we are not on track. Through our Love Where We Live campaign, The B Team is engaging business to act and raise their voices on the solutions needed to build a sustainable future.
There are no jobs on a dead planet.
Shaping COP26 as a global moment for climate action
Through convenings with journalists, business leaders, and G7 leadership, we helped lay the ground for deepened engagement at COP26, where we delivered targeted calls to action on environmentally harmful subsidies reform and ESG standardization, elevated the voices of climate-vulnerable nations and joined unions and mayors calling for government leadership on the climate and energy crisis.
Securing the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment
Our Leaders joined a growing number of countries, non-state actors, and UN agencies championing the adoption of a UN resolution on this issue at the Human Rights Council in October. In collaboration with Business for Nature and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, we developed a business statement signed by 50 companies and drove forward awareness-raising and advocacy actions which were instrumental in convincing key member states to vote in favor.
Corporate commitment and action for a just transition
Working with BSR, The B Team convened energy and utility companies through an Action Collaboration, including companies in hard-to-abate sectors like Shell, bp, and Iberdrola. The Action Collaboration will allow these companies to discuss challenges, build best practices, and support sector-level just transition planning with real potential for replication and scale.
Across business and government, leadership structures fail to represent the diversity of our world. A crisis of conformity at the top leaves us ill-equipped to solve the world’s most pressing challenges, from climate change to corruption. Through our Change Who to Change How campaign, The B Team is working to transform business leadership with a focus on gender balance and racial diversity.
When women and youth come together, they can renew a country. It is absolutely crucial that they are present in a meaningful way and given a seat at the table.
Activating CEO commitment and action
Throughout the year, we convened business leaders in small, closed-door settings to address diversity in leadership. Our CEO roundtables included executives from companies like IKEA, Roche, Shell, Allianz, Match Group, SAS, Vodafone, Verizon, Islandsbanki, Gulf International Bank, Lazard, and Mastercard. These sessions helped CEOs forge connections and aggregate ambition toward building safe and inclusive cultures.
An inflection point for gender equality
The UN Women Generation Equality Forum was a transformative global moment for gender equality and The B Team played a significant role in ensuring meaningful private sector engagement. We worked in close partnership with BSR, Win-Win Strategies, the UN Foundation, and UN Women to activate business participation, establishing new linkages among business, civil society and UN bodies. Our collective efforts helped secure 40 new private-sector commitments to gender equality and over $12 billion in funding pledges.
Resetting leadership through diversity
We know that to reset our economic system, we must reset leadership. We partnered with B Lab and Imperative 21 to launch RESET Leadership—an initiative to transform leadership and the rules that shape leadership behavior.
The rules under which businesses operate are outdated, broken, or ill-suited to the times and the challenges we collectively face. Through our Right the Rules campaign, The B Team is advocating for a fundamental reset of these rules, to create incentives that drive business practice toward a more inclusive economy.
Trust is one of the most precious and powerful human capacities. Without it all efforts fail, with it we can build the future.
Standing behind tax policy reform
Across the year we built on our work to encourage business adoption of responsible tax practices. Whilst welcoming several new companies as signatories to our Responsible Tax Principles, including Enel, Danone, Ørsted, and SBM Offshore, we also worked to elevate business support for international tax reform.
Business support for ambitious and mandatory sustainability reporting standards
2021 was a breakthrough year for sustainability reporting. The emergence of a new International Sustainability Standards Board—with a mandate to establish common, global baseline sustainability reporting standards—is a unique opportunity to reset the rules of ESG reporting. The B Team sought to build early momentum for the ISSB, with Emmanuel Faber, Oliver Bäte, and Hiro Mizuno all voicing public support.
Advancing corporate transparency in key countries
In September, The B Team, Open Ownership, BHP, and the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) jointly hosted a one-day conference focused on business engagement in advancing beneficial ownership transparency. This advanced corporate commitments and deepened their engagement, while also bringing the major accountant firms into the discussion. The forum resulted in a statement of support for beneficial ownership transparency signed by Anglo American, BHP, Glencore, Newmont, Repsol and Rio Tinto.
A new vision for private sector leadership is needed-to place humanity at the heart of business. Communities, employees and investors are calling for more inclusive workplaces, products and services, and business models that are net positive, but very few corporate leaders have stepped up with the courage to lead this way. The B Team is working to shift the narrative, advocating for holistic business leadership that can help deliver an inclusive economy.
We need a new playbook that sees people again—that sees above and beyond profits.
A New Leadership Playbook
In September we launched the New Leadership Playbook: a curated collection of stories and resources, to inform, inspire and catalyze the transition to a more inclusive economy. We also launched 10x Bolder, a new podcast series for current and emerging business leaders.
Breaking the mold and bringing the RESET
Recognizing the need to accelerate a net-positive economy, The B Team Leaders committed to delivering the RESET Dialogues —a multistakeholder radical convening and design process which seeks to collectively dream and design solutions for a specific challenge, using Appreciative Inquiry.
Building our team
The B Team is committed to being a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization.
At the Leader level we prioritized collaboration and connection, fostering a community of courage where our Leaders could learn from each other and uplift each others’ efforts. By offering safe space to grapple with the issues, our Leaders were supported to step up boldly across our agenda. As part of creating a vibrant community, we sought to enhance diversity among the group, recognizing the need to uplift a broader set of business and civil society perspectives in pursuit of an inclusive agenda. We welcomed four new B Team Leaders: Ilham Kadri, CEO & President of the Executive Committee of Solvay; Joseph Kenner, President and CEO of Greyston; Van Jones, a CNN contributor and founder of the Dream Corps, and; Ester Baiget, President & CEO of Novozymes. Jesper Brodin, CEO of Ingka Group, was also voted in as our new Chair, succeeding Paul Polman.
Across the year we took steps to embed a DEI lens across the organization, working with an equity and racial justice consulting group to guide us. We welcomed nine new staff members, and worked to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion across a dispersed team. Our progress was recognized by the Fair Share Monitor, which tracks gender equity in the international social impact sector. The B Team ranks 9th out of 61 organizations.
2021 was a strong year for the organization where we welcomed new foundations and corporate partners and exceeded our annual income targets. We built our financial reserves to ensure the long term sustainability of the organization, ending the year with reserves of $2.3m.
We are deeply grateful to our supporters who generously fund The B Team’s work.