B Lab slap moratorium on B Corps in Russia and Belarus
31 March 2022 at 7:45 am
Global not for profit network B Lab has halted certification of B Corp status on all businesses in Russia, and its ally Belarus, in response to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Under a new moratorium instituted by B Lab, Russian and Belarusian businesses – and their subsidiaries – will now be denied B Corp certification.
B Lab is the not for profit behind the B Corp certification, which assess businesses on their social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. This status will now be withheld from all new Russian and Belarusian business applicants.
The move is designed to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Ukraine. It also sends a global message that governments who instigate humanitarian crises on communities will in turn create consequences for their own business and social sectors.
A statement on B Lab’s website states that: “The circumstances surrounding the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine introduce significant and complex questions about the role of business, and what it means to be using business as a force for good in this context”.
B Lab acknowledged that the private sector, as “stewards of the global movement” bears a certain responsibility and must be accountable.
The moratorium – which marks the first time that B Lab has taken a position in response to military action – also reflects the mounting barriers to assessing B Corp compliance in Russia, due to the circumstances created by the invasion.
While B Lab’s position reflects deep concern over Ukraine, it criticised the over-tolerant approach of global corporations to other humanitarian crises, in The Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.
“The fact is that in recent decades ‘business as usual’ has been maintained through acts of war and humanitarian crises around the world,” the statement read.
“Racism coupled with American- and European-centric worldviews underlies the amplified response… in comparison to recent crises in Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Texas, among other places… [This] is serving as yet another wake-up call to the business community – and to B Lab”.
While the immediate moratorium is effective until further notice, B Lab appears open to lifting restrictions in response to genuine change in the on-ground situation in Ukraine, beyond a 90-day minimum stipulated in its announcement.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation… factors that will be considered… will include changes in the conflict, possible resolutions, changing sanctions or regulations, new information to inform the potential impacts of business decisions, among others,” it said.
The full B Lab statement can be read here.