Reflections on B for the Good Leaders Summit
Last week, Violaine was in Rome to join certified and aspiring B Corps, social entrepreneurs (i.e. Benefit Corporations, or as we now know, Societá Benefit in Italy and Entreprise-à-Mission in France), impact investors, academics, and government leaders for the B for Good Leaders summit. Although the United States is the leading country in B Corp certifications, Christopher & Panasci was one of the few American companies in attendance – rest assured, Violaine was delighted to serve as a de facto ambassador for U.S. leaders.
The conference was curated around five key important themes:
- Regenerative Economy,
- Corporate Activism,
- B Corporations, and
- Sustainable Finance.
While we are all aware that certification is not the ultimate answer to our climate, ecological and social crisis, the impact of the collaborative efforts of the B community is undeniable. The highlight of the summit was certainly the connections made, the knowledge shared, and the challenges to our individual practices that were fearlessly raised.
The conference left all attendees with one quintessential question: What’s next? It’s clear that business has to change and economies have to become regenerative. But who is taking the lead? As it turns out, every country has a different approach to encouraging private sector actors to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
We are all walking – or maybe driving in heavy traffic in the U.S. – towards a new system that redefines our roles and fundamental values as businesses. As the global community is redefining the regulatory environmental, social and governance (ESG) landscape, the United States is fighting to build its foundations.
Between European Union taxonomy disclosures, a growing push toward regulating ESG ratings providers in Europe and India, a carbon emissions disclosure bill in California, and new ESG disclosure rules in China, regulation is shaping the sustainability agenda and changing the way companies do business in different jurisdictions. But not all countries perform equally, while European countries have taken a leadership role in establishing sustainable finance and ESG disclosure policy, others are struggling to require the bare minimum from private and public companies. It’s going to take more than collaborative efforts led by our B community. A global level playing field with everyone following the same rules is imminent.
We can cut our American B community some slack for skipping out on the event. After all, important events were going down in the country. Public comment on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate disclosure rule closed on June 17, with more than 10,000 comments submitted since March by companies, auditors, trade groups, lawmakers, individuals and others. It comes with no surprise that corporate America seeks to halt the proposed rule, but their investors and stakeholders are ready and eager for consistent, comparable, and reliable information – information to help protect investors from “greenwashing,” or exaggerated or false claims about ESG practices.
This begs the question, why are disclosure policies so important? Our ability to promote all five of the aforementioned curated summit topics relies on policy that lays the groundwork for more advanced regulations that focus on investors and financial practitioners, rather than just corporations. The transition to ESG is driven by investors as well as stakeholders, who are becoming more aware of their own role and the difference they can make in our global economy.
The issue then becomes, how can businesses prepare for such disclosure requirements? In comes companies like ESG Impact, Green Future Planet, and best of all, C&P to assist companies with the upcoming global transition. For every company with a robust ESG strategy, there are hundreds that haven’t started yet. The B community is here to lend a helping hand! Here are some main takeaways from the summit that all companies can adopt:
- Change your mindset: ESG is not a compliance exercise but rather an opportunity to add value to your company.
- Revisit your board: is anyone on your executive team fluent in ESG? It’s time to set up a steering committee with members who can assess, educate, and integrate themselves with ESG best practices.
- Up your data collection and integrity protocols: the proposed climate rule requires companies to nail down their emissions data. It is important to plan ahead to ensure the appropriate level of disclosure.
About Violaine Panasci
Violaine Panasci, LL.M., studied law at the University of Ottawa before completing an LL.M. in New York with an emphasis in food systems and sustainable supply chains. Her practice areas include agricultural technology, cannabis, copyrights, data privacy, food & beverage, regulation, sustainable supply chains, and trademarks. V currently serves as a board member and Vice-Chair of the Governance Committee for the National Social Enterprise Alliance, a board member for the Nashville Social Enterprise Alliance, and a board member for the French American Chamber of Commerce of Tennessee. Read more about Violaine, connect with her, and Calendly her.