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27th February 2021

The B Team Brief: February 2021

The B Team Brief is our monthly digest of what we're doing, discussing and reading on the path toward an inclusive economy. Sign up to receive each month's edition in your inbox.

A Note From Halla Tómasdóttir

The past year has presented leaders everywhere with new and pressing challenges. It’s forced us to confront the failings of our broken systems and our outdated, and ineffective, models of leadership. As we approach a year of living with the impacts of COVID-19, the need for a RESET is increasingly clear—and also applies to how we lead.

We must take forward the lessons we’ve learned over the last 12 months and be 10x bolder in how we lead, placing humanity and humility at the heart of everything we do. And we can’t bring this 10x bolder leadership to life with the same voices at the table. Sameness is not a formula for progress. Only by changing who is in charge will we change how we lead and innovate our way toward a better future.

Last week, the world took a significant step in this direction. The World Trade Organization (WTO) appointed B Team Leader, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as its next Director-General—the first woman and first African to lead the organization. As Finance Minister of Nigeria, she helped revitalize and stabilize the country’s economy. Now, as she faces great challenges at the helm of the WTO, we have every confidence that she will meet them with collaboration. Global solidarity to ensure fair and equitable vaccine distribution, deliver a just and inclusive economic recovery and tackle our looming climate crisis will all be part of her agenda.

Momentum around the need for new, diverse and inclusive leadership is growing. This month we also saw Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, call on its portfolio companies to set targets for gender diversity on boards. In the United States, similar pressure from investors resulted in only one company with an all-male board going public in 2020. While that’s still one company too many, it’s a signal that we’re heading in the right direction.

Our biggest barrier to transformative action is the crisis of conformity in leadership. When we change who is given a chance to lead, we can change what issues we tackle and how we tackle them. It’s time for all of us to rally around this imperative to build an inclusive economy.

What We're Doing

Ørsted has joined the growing group of multinationals endorsing our Responsible Tax Principles. This move comes as the European Union debates mandating country-by-country tax reporting for companies—information Ørsted has voluntarily shared as the first Danish business to do so.

The impacts of COVID-19 pandemic threaten to place gender equality further out of reach. That’s why we’re teaming up with BSR and Win-Win Strategies to host a webinar on how business can take meaningful action to close this growing gap at this year’s Generation Equality Forum.

What We're Discussing

“No company can consider itself successful by 21st-century measures if it’s contributing to human rights violations.” Business cannot afford to stay silent on Myanmar’s military coup. Our Chair, Paul Polman, and Vice-Chair, Sharan Burrow, write on the importance of responding with human rights and environmental due diligence and action to protect workers’ rights and democratic institutions.

“We must put social issues, humanity, our community, our people, in the center, and let profit come after. And it will come.” Chobani Founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, follows the anti-CEO playbook—operating with humanity at the heart of his business. A new VICE documentary shares the story of how that mindset has made all the difference to the company's success.

“If we fail to deal with the climate crisis, we will be creating a sustainability gap between past and future generations.” We won’t see a sustainable future without the power of our financial system. Hiro Mizuno, newly-appointed UN Special Envoy on Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investments, discusses the role of finance in delivering a green and inclusive economy.

Company Spotlight: This Month in 10x Bolder Leadership

An inclusive economy must work for workers. This month, Harley-Davidson moved to help make this economic model a reality. As part of its new Inclusive Stakeholder Management plan, the company issued stock ownership to 4,500 of its employees—including every one of its hourly factory workers. This show of stakeholder primacy ensures employees benefit from the company’s success.

Our Co-Founder and Harley CEO, Jochen Zeitz, makes it clear that initiatives like these do not come at the expense of shareholder value. When employees are valued and respected, everyone from the C-suite to the factory floor to the boardroom benefits: “Everyone contributes to the success of a company. If you don’t have a company culture that’s motivating and positive, you can’t win long term.”

What We’re Reading

While more companies are taking climate action, how can they ensure their policies and practices are centered in climate justice? The B Corp Climate Collective’s new The Climate Justice Playbook for Business provides guidance and examples of how companies can integrate climate justice into their operations, supply chains and more.

How do companies’ efforts to address systemic racism measure up to their employees’ lived experiences? For(bes) The Culture’s inaugural Black and Brown in Corporate America survey polls Black and Brown employees on whether they’ve seen meaningful progress on diversity, equity and inclusion in their workplaces.

Which companies and industries have placed respect for human rights at the heart of their COVID-19 responses? The World Benchmarking Alliance explores how businesses addressed increased human rights risks and impacts in 2020 in its new COVID-19 and Human Rights Study.

Leadership means solidarity, working together, realizing that we have to help each other.”

World Trade Organization Director-General, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on the need for global solidarity to ensure fair and equitable COVD-19 vaccine access