Category: Sustainability

Why we need B Corps more than ever

Why we need B Corps more than ever

Kim Coupounas

From my very first encounter with the B Corp movement, I was smitten. The B Corp model drew me in.

As a founder and former CEO of one of the earliest Certified B Corps and more recently a Global Ambassador for B Lab and co-founder of the B Corp Climate Collective, I’ve always believed in the promise of the B Corp movement, that it could move companies – and even whole economies – towards being a force for good.

But what does the future hold for it? A recent article in the Financial Times important questions about B Lab and its community.

The movement, which began over a decade ago with just a handful of visionary pioneering companies now has more than 6,000. As the movement has grown, B Lab and the B Corp community have been grappling with their future.

The B Corp movement at an inflection point

Much of the recent criticism leveled at B Lab and the B Corp movement has centered around the certification of large multinationals. Understanding that plenty of large multinational and public companies are making progress on the journey but are still way off, the question has been raised whether multinationals should be aspiring (or even allowed) to be B Corps.

Critics have also argued that the B Corp standards have become too broad and bloated, and do not do enough to tackle issues like climate change or economic inequality. Others have argued that the standards focus too much on individual company practices rather than broader systemic changes.

It’s clear that the B Corp community is at an inflection point.

What do we need from B Corps and the B Corp community now?

B Lab announced a review of the B Corp Certification requirements in December 2020. The new standards, expected to go live in 2024, emphasize 10 universally applicable topics and define non-negotiable requirements for achieving certification. These include taking concrete climate action, paying workers a living wage, and using a business’ brand voice and power for collective action and advocacy.

The original standards put forward a set of good/better/best practices that enable a company to take a holistic approach to using its business for good. The new standard provides a set of non-negotiable requirements for achieving certification. My view is that these new expectations are long overdue and will keep the B Corp movement relevant into the next decade. In the world of ESG and sustainability, there’s no perfect standard. Despite my impatience for the new B Corp requirements to “go live,” I still believe the B Impact Assessment – both the old and the new versions – is the closest thing that exists today to a roadmap for businesses of any size to transition to a regenerative business model. 

Just like no standard is perfect, no company is perfect. We need companies of all sizes to make progress towards a better future. I believe that we need B Corps now more than ever. We need more of them, and we need them in ALL shapes and sizes.

As part of my work with Leaders’ Quest, I have the privilege of working closely with a wide range of large multinational and public companies. Last week, a multinational client asked me whether the B Corp path is something they should still pursue in light of the Financial Times article. My answer was an unequivocal yes.

The inner game of leadership: Why it’s key to unleashing action for a healthy, sustainable world

The inner game of leadership: Why it’s key to unleashing action for a healthy, sustainable world

Melanie Jamieson

In May, I attended ChangeNOW, the world’s largest conference for the planet aimed at spotlighting 1,000 innovative solutions over three days. It was a hive of activity. A glimpse into a fast-growing ecosystem of initiatives with the aim to reach a healthy, sustainable world with speed, scale and justice.

I was asked to share my thoughts on what’s needed to turn these creative solutions — alongside myriad commitments, pathways, and partnerships that are announced every day — into collective action at scale. 

I think we need an upgrade in our human software — in the way we lead, and how we collaborate. 

For millennia, human beings have evolved at a slow and steady rate that’s served us well. We’ve become good at working with people who look like us and think like us; on local issues that we can see, touch, and experience.

But this pace of evolution is out of sync with the rapid change we’re now grappling with in the Anthropocene — the period in which human activity is the dominant force of change on Earth’s ecosystems.

To limit global warming to 1.5°C, we need an unprecedented level of collaboration across countries, citizens, corporations, industries, and civil society. This kind of radical collaboration is hard because it involves working across divides — borders, sectors and communities — with people who see and experience the world very differently from each other.

This ability to work effectively with difference is a leadership muscle that human beings need to evolve — and fast. So how can we speed up our own evolution?

At Leaders’ Quest, we’ve learned over the last 21 years that the fastest way to grow as adults is through experiential learning. Based on this philosophy, we take leaders on ‘Quests’ to immerse them in unfamiliar environments, and spend time engaging with inspiring changemakers driving impact across business and society.

We think of a Quest as a window to the world, and a mirror for oneself. Exposure to the forces shaping the future, coupled with time for deep reflection, opens the doorway to personal insight. It creates the chance to reflect on our ‘inner game of leadership’, as Bill Adams and Bob Anderson describe it.

Our ‘inner game’ is what we hold in our consciousness. In other words, it is our interior operating system — what drives us, how we define ourselves, what we believe. It’s what we use to make sense of the world. It informs how we act, and how we shape life around us. 

“Great leadership transcends skill, capability, and competence. It includes integrity, honesty, passion, vision, risk-taking, compassion, courage, authenticity, collaboration, self-awareness, selflessness, endurance, humility, intuition, and wisdom. These are qualities of the inner game.” Bill Adams & Bob Anderson

However, in a fast-changing world, there are fierce demands on our ‘outer game’ — our knowledge, skills and technical expertise. It’s the dimension that we spend much of our lives honing in education, training and leadership development. It’s also the one that leaders in sustainability typically focus on as they come to grips with how to transform their companies, cities and communities.

Yet our inner game RUNS our outer game. What’s happening on the inside shapes how we experience the world, and the actions we choose to take. This means that innovative technical solutions won’t solve the climate crisis alone. We must put equal focus on how we lead and collaborate (our ‘inner game’), so we can turn powerful ideas into implementation at scale.

For me, this means evolving our inner game in two key ways:

Firstly, we need to shift our mindsets to a regenerative worldview that puts life at the centre of all decision-making. Becoming regenerative is about asking ourselves how we can leave things better than we found them. It means “reimagining a world where the human economy and the natural economy work in harmony with each other”, as Futures Practitioner Bill Sharpe says. In practical terms, it means leading from a mindset of ‘doing more good’ (instead of ‘doing less bad’) in our companies, cities and communities.

Secondly, we need to develop inner qualities to work more effectively across divides. Adam Kahane, in his book ‘Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree With or Like or Trust’ says effective collaboration alternates between the polarities of engaging and asserting. 

Through this lens, I see radical collaboration as a dance between building human connection and driving bold action. In practice, this means flexing our inner game across a spectrum of qualities that build empathy (respect, humility, generosity) and propel action (courage, purpose, resilience) to help people move forward together. It’s these ‘inner game’ qualities that we need to scale if we are going to step up to the challenges humanity is facing. 

So, as I looked out across the ChangeNOW conference, I was asked what small (or big) action everyone should take. The 1% change that scales if we all do it. 

My invitation is that we each build a bridge with someone who sees the world differently — perhaps even someone we don’t agree with, like or trust. Take the time to listen deeply, build empathy by sharing stories, and spend time seeing life through their eyes. Build a foundation of respect and connection — even if you don’t agree with everything you hear.

Climate action at scale requires wise leadership… and only by maturing our inner game can we build the radical collaboration skills to get us to a healthy, sustainable future for all.

Carbon credits should be one of our best tools to fight climate change — if we use them right

Carbon credits should be one of our best tools to fight climate change — if we use them right

The market for carbon offsets is booming, and a series of efforts have sprung up to define rules and standards that will tackle their often dodgy reputation. Global agreement on those rules is crucial to achieving a net-zero future and essential to helping avert the looming climate catastrophe.

In an Op-Ed for TIME Ideas, TED Global Curator and TED Countdown co-founder Bruno Giussani and Gabrielle Walker, founder of the climate consultancy Valence Solutions, highlight how carbon markets can bring about meaningful climate action.

Read the full article.

What is Regenerative?

What is Regenerative?

Each of us has a vital role to play in ensuring society can thrive at every level.

But what if each of us could actively engage in behaviors that put life at the center of everything – where individuals only contribute to activities that have a positive effect on the patterns and systems of which they are a part?

In this video, we explain what Regenerative means, and the steps we can take toward leaving things even better than we found them.

For more information on Three Horizons, visit and download our 10 Tools for Systems Change.

Three Horizons: the three voices

Three Horizons: the three voices

In any conversation about the future, you’ll probably notice three voices showing up: the manager, who is responsible for the success of the current system and keeping things going as they are; the visionary who speaks for a radically different world; and the entrepreneur who is impatient with all the talk and just wants to put new ideas into action right now.

We call these the voices of the Three Horizons.

In this video, we explain how to recognize these voices and see the value each one brings, and how they might work together to navigate conversations about the future.

For more information on Three Horizons, visit and download our 10 Tools for Systems Change.

Three Horizons: an introduction

Three Horizons: an introduction

Three Horizons (3H) is a simple framework to help guide conversations about the future towards meaningful action.

The framework acts like a map, helping us work out where we are, where we want to be, and how to get there.

It charts Horizon 1, the dominant way things are done today that show signs of strain and lack of fit to the future; Horizon 3, our visions for how we want things to be in the future; and Horizon 2, the innovations we can establish to help make our desired future a reality. This introductory video explains Three Horizons using the food system as an example but you can apply this framework to any topic of concern.

For more information on Three Horizons, visit and download our 10 Tools for Systems Change.

5 ways to accelerate your action on climate

5 ways to accelerate your action on climate

Nigel Topping, UK High Level Climate Action Champion COP26, joins Lindsay Levin, CEO and Founder of Leaders’ Quest, to chat about the top 5 ways in which businesses can accelerate their action on climate, in the build up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), happening this November in Glasgow, Scotland.

At Leaders’ Quest, we’re very well placed to offer advice and guidance in this crucial year.

Watch the interview.

To find out more, get in touch with us on

How do we create a regenerative economy?

How do we create a regenerative economy?

Towards a Regenerative Economy – the Seven Domains of Transformation

Globalised industrial capitalism has been a powerful system for generating and distributing wealth. It has supported massive population growth, lifted billions out of poverty, and brought countless labour-saving devices to people around the world.

At the same time, we face the unintended consequences of this success – an economy operating beyond our planetary boundaries, and systemic levels of inequality that generate social instability.

Many people are working to innovate the ‘rules of the game’ so that business and our global economy can use their influence to address these unintended consequences. Below we sketch seven ‘domains of transformation’: areas where existing initiatives can deliver solutions that will deliver a Regenerative Economy.

These domains are offered to inspire hope, and provoke inquiry, partnerships and further innovation. This kind of complex landscape is inevitably flawed – so please feel free to offer suggestions for further domains, and fresh examples of promising initiatives.

1.  The madness and wisdom of crowds

We often miss the power of crowds to form social movements – for good or ill – but they may trigger faster political change.

A few to consider:

  • The move to a sharing economy: eg millennials not wanting to own a car.
  • Rapid dietary shifts towards veganism (or flexitarianism!), fuelling early-stage investment in the Great Protein Transition. (Why intensively farm cows when you can make burgers with less animal cruelty and environmental damage?)
  • Greta Thunberg-inspired school strikes: over 1.5 million schoolchildren (and growing) taking to the streets.
Shutterstock 1244925514 web.jpg

2.  Fourfold fiscal asymmetry

Current tax regimes tilt the economic playing field in at least four unhelpful ways:

  1. Is it acceptable to society that the world’s biggest tech companies pay so little tax, while SMEs – the creators of most innovation and jobs – pay full corporation tax? How can society pay for roads and schools when the wealthiest corporate citizens don’t play their part? Recent attempts at transfer-pricing reform have been inadequate. Perhaps Tax Inspectors Without Borders or the OECD work to implement a Global Minimum Tax will make a difference?
  2. Subsidies for fossil fuels and taxes on jobs and profits! Shouldn’t we use the tax system to incentivise desirable outcomes, and discourage damaging ones? See the work of Ex-Tax on this.
  3. Capital and 4. income inequalities – see Anthony Atkinson’s book Inequality for a pragmatic set of suggested changes to address these asymmetries.

3.  Innovation at the limits

Two insights are key. Firstly, that freedom doesn’t drive entrepreneurs; limits do. Innovation is driven by constraints. Ask an engineer to make something smaller, lighter, faster, and watch the creativity fly!

Secondly, Earth systems scientists have defined the biophysical limits within which our global economy must operate (the 9 Planetary Boundaries.) We are already breaking three: GHG emissions, biodiversity loss, and nutrient flows (nitrogen and phosphorous).

The standard economic response is: “Just implement a global Pigouvian price.” (A tax on any market activity that generates costs not included in the market price, such as emitting carbon dioxide). This might work, but we have a poor track record of negotiating global fiscal instruments.

An alternative has emerged: Science Based Targets for business. To date, over 540 major companies have committed to reducing carbon emissions, in line with climate change science. This year the initiative will be extended to cover the eight other planetary boundaries.

Investors are already demanding evidence that companies are aligning their plans with such targets. Governments, such as Japan, are encouraging their take-up, and the G20 Financial Stability Board has issued guidance recommending all major companies and finance sector players ensure their business strategies are compatible with this limit. (The Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure was chaired by Mike Bloomberg).

Given growing awareness of the catastrophic destruction of biodiversity, it’s possible that progress on climate will soon extend to other aspects of our economic impact on nature.

Shutterstock 390972058 web.jpg

4.  Stewards of the future

Governance matters. Who sits at the table determines which conversations do/don’t take place, and which trade-offs are deemed acceptable. The German economy has thrived despite – or because of – the inclusion of works council representatives on supervisory boards. But decision-making is often short-term, and rarely considers the environment or future generations.

What if representatives of nature (and the future), sat on each board? Hydrogen car company River Simple is experimenting with this form of radical governance.

Entrepreneurs tend to follow certain forms of behaviour, but there are alternative corporate forms. Perhaps the best known is the B-Corp, a movement comprising over 2,700 businesses worldwide (example: publicly listed Danone is working to full B-Corp certification).

5.  Beware WGMGM!

It’s a managerial truism: what gets measured gets managed. But what if we are measuring the wrong thing? Politicians and economists have long pursued an obsessive goal of growing GDP per capital. Yet ever since its inception as a crude measure of economic scale (in the 1930s), economists have known it’s a flawed metric.

It includes all sorts of economic activity – eg the cost of policing and incarcerating criminals – that don’t necessarily equate to quality of life. And it fails to capture others which do contribute to a better society – such as home care and volunteering. And of course, GDP does not measure the economic damage caused as we destroy natural capital.

Alternatives exist, described in David Pilling’s recent book ‘The Growth Delusion’. They include Gross National Happiness (pioneered by the Bhutan government), the GINI Coefficient and the Genuine Progress Indicator.

But fixing our definition of P+L targets – remember, in the business world there’s EBIT, EBITDA etc, and the choice does matter – still leaves a gaping hole. We have no effective balance sheets for national accounts. Consider that the USA currently has an economic liability of overdue maintenance on its bridges of over $70 billion. There’s some real work for economists here.

Shutterstock 1346706797 web.jpg

6.  Earth money makes the world go around?

The value of money has always been tied to something of physical value. Many believe the gold standard, the latest manifestation, was relegated to history in 1944, when the Bretton Woods Agreement linked international currencies to the dollar (rather than gold).

But the dollar was still tied to gold (the USA held 75% of global gold reserves at the time) and this linkage lasted until 1971. We are less than 50 years into an experiment that has severed all ties between the value of money and something physical.

Some might argue that this led to the financialization of the global economy, and the supremacy of Wall Street over Main Street. Money is created in two ways: approximately 3% is issued by governments, which print money; the remaining 97% is created by banks issuing loans.

New technology could change this. Blockchain has created a slew of new, decentralised currencies (Bitcoin is the prime example). But each Bitcoin is issued when someone solves an increasingly difficult computation puzzle, so it isn’t backed by anything physical. Recent cryptocurrencies are backed by sustainable economic transactions. For example, SolarCoin creates a currency unit whenever a registered power generator creates 1 kwh of electricity from solar panels.

As remote sensing capabilities combine with secure decentralised blockchain platforms, we may be on the verge of the creation of a ‘GaiaCoin’. It would be issued on the back of sustainable economic transactions (eg the procurement of a unit of sustainable palm oil). 

This would be constrained by the total value of global ecosystems, usable by all in further transactions, and fully democratic (ie not controlled by any government). Perhaps one day the GaiaCoin will form part of the international basket of currencies?

7.  The new laws of nature

The law is a component of capitalism infrastructure. The protection of property is the prime example, but the very notion of a company is an invented abstraction. It treats a company as a fictitious person in the eyes of the law. This is odd when you come to think of it!

So, the nature of our laws, and their application, will be central to the evolution of our economic system. Three trends stand out:

  • The enhanced application of existing laws, exemplified by the work of Client Earth. This legal NGO works on cases against national/city governments, compelling them to comply with existing environmental law. Recent wins include forcing the Dutch government to increase the scope of its climate law, and inducing several major cities to address illegal levels of air pollution.
  • The concept of Ecocide – written into the original articles of the UN, but deleted during negotiations. Recently deceased lawyer Polly Higgins made good progress in championing the idea that this should be recognised as a crime – allowing citizens to take companies and governments to court for actions deemed to have destroyed whole ecosystems.
  • The idea of legal rights for nature is gaining traction. Already written into the constitutions of New Zealand, Columbia and Ecuador, there are calls for this change to go mainstream.
Climated change.png
What I learned about leadership by looking at moss

What I learned about leadership by looking at moss

Lindsay Levin

Many years ago, I visited a forest in southwest England with an ecologist friend. He was describing the carbon cycle, explaining how forests and rivers work as part of the earth’s ecosystem. He asked me to lie face down on the ground and look at what was in front of me.

I lay there looking at all this lichen and moss right before my eyes. I saw clouds of colour, tiny flowers, exquisite patterns. And I thought about some photographs I’d seen recently – images of the universe taken from the space telescope Hubble. 

Whenever I see these space images I’m reminded of an ancient Buddhist story about Indra, the God of the Heavens.

According to this story, when Indra fashioned the world, he made it as a net, and at every knot in the net he tied a pearl. Everything that exists, or has ever existed, every idea – is a pearl in the net. And every single pearl reflects an image of the entire web. It’s a symbol of the universe as a web of connections.

Lying on that forest floor, I understood this idea for the first time. The beauty of the tiniest elements of nature and the wonder of a vast universe. The sense that each is part of the other. That we are all connected.

So, what does this have to do with leadership?

The idea that we’re all connected might sound obvious to some – but it can feel conspicuously absent in a world where the focus is on competition and individual attainment.

We’re now 10 years on from the financial crisis of 2008. Many of the consequences of that crisis – and the crazy excesses and leadership failures that led to it – are still with us. But today, I believe we’re in the middle of an even greater one. 

Politically, in many places – including my home country Britain, and my adopted home in the US – we’re in uncharted waters. Socially, we’re facing real problems of inequality and polarisation. Ecologically, we’ve crossed into unprecedented territory. According to a recent UN report, we have just 12 years to limit catastrophic climate change. 

Asking the big questions

As leaders, it can be all too easy to focus on the daily concerns of our own organisations. There’s a natural tendency to break things down into units that we understand and have some control over. It’s what companies do. Business leaders don’t want to spend their time worrying about things over which they have little influence. They have short-term targets to meet, and even doing that is extraordinarily hard.

But I believe there are bigger questions to ask. For instance: with the world’s population set to reach 9+ billion people by 2050, how can build a regenerative future, in which we live rewarding lives, in well-functioning societies, in harmony with the planet?

It’s a daunting question! But we must tackle these dilemmas. We can’t address today’s complexity in silos.

Our modern economies, our current way of doing business – where we measure financial outcomes but rarely focus on social or environmental ones – are simply not sustainable.

Business can be an incredible force for good. Companies have played a crucial role in human advancement. But some of the models that served us well in the past need a serious rethink. And we shouldn’t be surprised. Life is change. Nothing stands still. The idea that capitalism doesn’t need to evolve is absurd.

One of our great leadership challenges today is to turn a situation that feels frightening and overwhelming, into an opportunity to reimagine how we live and work. To see it as an invitation to creativity, passion and brilliance. To view this not as a political, national or business agenda, but as a human one.

What I’m describing sounds hugely ambitious – and some may say idealistic. But I would describe it as pragmatic.

Shifting perspectives

At Leaders’ Quest, we believe people sometimes need a wake-up call to step up and shape a different future. To be reminded that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s why we focus on experiential learning in our leadership development work. We believe it’s the most powerful way to shift perspectives.

Increasingly, we’re asking our own version of the big question: 

What kind of leaders do we need to build a regenerative future?

In reply, I offer four suggestions, inspired by the sense of awe and connection I felt looking at that lichen on the forest floor – and 17 years of working with senior leaders from business, government and non-profits:

First, we have to get over ourselves! 

To get out of our own way. To let go of the fear of losing out or being insignificant; and the need to measure ourselves against one another to know we matter. This requires profound personal growth. It’s about slowing down as the world appears to speed up. Recalibrating between an obsession with doing, and a better balance with being. It’s about purpose, compassion, curiosity, humility. We won’t solve collective problems if we’re not committed to growing as individuals.

Second, we have to learn to lead from uncertainty. 

To get comfortable with not knowing. To become better listeners and learn to disagree more intelligently. To balance having one foot in the present and one in the future, because so many of the decisions we make today have an impact 10, 20 years down the road. And the consequences of ignoring this are more profound than ever before. It’s a brave thing: owning our uncertainty.

Third, we need radical collaboration

I’m thinking about the painstaking consensus-building that led to the Paris Agreement. In Leaders’ Quest we talk about relentless generosity. Some people get upset with me for using this word relentless, but I think it’s fundamental to collaboration and it’s not easy! It means constantly expanding our own circle of compassion. Balancing power and love and how we use each of them. 

Finally, we need to make time to shift our perspectives.

I believe we can all find opportunities to pause and shift our perspective – whether in a forest, on the street or at our desks. To seek moments of stillness where we can experience things differently. To really appreciate the interconnectedness of life. And the power and responsibility and possibility that comes with it.

I think that’s what leadership is all about.