Food Giant Becomes World’s Largest B Corp
1 May 2018 at 5:02 pm
Food giant Danone North America has become the world’s largest B Corp, charting a new pathway for multinational public companies to engage with the movement.
The organisation, which is the top organic food manufacturer in the US, announced in April it had been certified by B Lab, two years ahead of its declared target.
The announcement coincided with the organisation’s first anniversary following its formation a year ago as Danone North America (previously DanoneWave), after the Danone US dairy and WhiteWave businesses combined to create the largest Public Benefit Corporation in the world.
Danone North America CEO Mariano Lozano said they were “incredibly proud” to join the movement, which marked a promise that companies were doing business in a way that met rigorous standards of verified performance, transparency and accountability.
“This designation demonstrates to employees, consumers, partners, retailers, society and governments that we are committed to continuous improvement as we work to bring the company’s One Planet. One Health vision to life through our business and brands,” Lozano said.
“B Corp Certification is more than a logo, it connotes a core set of beliefs, vision and promise to redefine success in business.
“Our B Day is an exciting moment as we join a community of 2,400 Certified B Corporations from more than 60 countries across 150 industries. Together, we will be a force for good and serve as a model of shared and durable prosperity.”
The announcement makes the organisation the eighth Danone subsidiary to become certified alongside those in Canada, Argentina, France, Indonesia, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as US organic baby food brand Happy Family.
According to Danone North America, it supports Danone’s long-time dual project of balancing economic success and social progress, which the company’s then CEO, Antoine Riboud, first articulated publicly in 1972.
Danone Chairman and CEO Emmanuel Faber said “it was time to make sustainable business the only way of doing business”.
“People rightly expect large organisations like Danone to use their scale for positive impact while demanding transparency, authenticity and action,” Faber said.
“I’m incredibly honored by our teams in North America, whose ability to achieve B Corp Certification in just one year is not only commendable, but will also help serve as a model of what’s possible to other Danone subsidiaries and other large companies.
“Representing around 20 per cent of our global business, Danone North America’s B Corp Certification is an important milestone in our global company’s broader B Corp journey and a fundamental step towards realising our Danone, One Planet. One Health vision.”
In an article published after the announcement, To B or Not to B Corp: That is No Longer a Question, Faber said: “It is now proven that it is possible to certify as a B Corp for large organisations that are committed to being change agents, for business and for the world we live in.”
Danone aims to be the first multinational food company to obtain a global B Corp Certification and has partnered with B Lab since 2015 to help define a B Corp model suitable for publicly traded global companies.
To obtain the B Corp Certification, companies must complete a B Impact Assessment and earn an audited minimum score of 80 out of 200 possible points and recertify – with the aim to continuously improve – every two years.
B-Lab co-founder Bart Houlahan said they “could not be more excited” that Danone North America, which achieved a score of 85, had undertaken the effort to become the largest Certified B Corporation to date.
“A successful B Corp movement needs an inclusive community of companies of all sizes: from Fortune 500 companies to small sole proprietors,” Houlahan said.
“Today’s announcement shows how even complex multinational corporations can commit to balancing meaningful change with shareholder expectations… and we are confident that this news will inspire other companies of similar or larger size and scope to join the movement.”
B Lab Australia and New Zealand executive director Andrea De Almeida told Pro Bono News it could not be understated how significant Danone North America’s certification was for the global B Corp movement.
“Certifying as the largest B Corp in the world, two years ahead of their own deadline, is a testament to their commitment to being a force for good,” De Almeida said.
“There’s now an undeniable momentum across the world for business to redefine their role in society and how they measure success.
“We think this will just be the beginning of committed and robust leadership from large, multinational corporations.”