EXCLUSIVE: Director Cyrus Sutton Explains Why B Corps Matter

"There's a lot of negative feelings about capitalism right now," said Kris Lin-Bronner who is the strategic advisor of Dr. Bronner's. Her words are indicative of the wide scale erosion of trust between companies and consumers. It seems that time and again we unearth ugly truths behind the products we've come to love and trust. I've been fascinated with this is for a while now. Is this a result of capitalism itself or is it the way in which capitalism has evolved?

I am first and foremost a documentary filmmaker, my latest film Island Earth examines the cozy ties between agrichemical companies and the food we eat. But I'm also an entrepreneur, I work as a storyteller for Guayaki Yerba Mate and I founded a edible sunblock company. I learned about B Corp certification through Chris Cohen, a lawyer friend of mine working for Sustainable Law Group. I was telling him about the business I was planning to start and he suggested I look into creating a benefit corporation and applying for B Corp certification. He said something like this…

"Say you have a great idea for a business—it's unique and you're committed to positive social and environmental impact. The sad truth of capitalism in America today is that if you take money from an investor to help implement your vision, the legal framework surrounding this investment can seriously compromise the original intent of your vision."

To back up, when you incorporate your company you are handing over a large degree of control to your investors to which you have a fiduciary responsibility. Ever since the Revlon Ruling in 1986, this responsibility has shifted away from maintaining the health of the company to maximizing shareholder value often regardless of social or environmental impacts. So quarter by quarter we see companies making decisions that compromise the efficacy of their intentions.

A benefit corporation offers refuge from this system. It allows the founders to essentially bake in their vision and give their higher minded goals the legal armor to weather capital raises, and leadership changes. Then, through the B Corp certification process—which is open to all businesses that meet certain standards, and not just benefit corporations—these companies can quantify and communicate their impact to their stakeholders, adding an additional layer of accountability and transparency. It seems to be working, according to B Lab's community manager Andy Fyfe, there are now more than 2,000 certified B Corps internationally. His hope is that a tipping point will be reached as literacy grows and big multi-national corporations will be pressured to adopt this framework to hold themselves accountable to a more responsible standard of operation.

In the end only time will tell if capitalism is an inherently flawed system. But I'm excited to participate in evolving the current paradigm before starting from scratch. Working at Guayaki, a twenty-one year old company that has stewarded the restoration of over one-hundred thousand acres of rainforest in South America while cultivating empowering relationships with local growers, I've seen first hand the potential for business to steer industry towards a more sustainable future. My hope is that this short film will create more awareness around the red circled "B" logo that is printed on the back of products for both customers trying to make informed buying decisions as well young entrepreneurs such as myself wary of falling into the trappings of modern business.

To learn more about Benefit Corporations visit bcorporation.net.

EcoWatch is proud of its standing as a Certified B Corporation.

Show Comments ()

Trump Administration Offers 77 Million Acres in Gulf of Mexico to Oil Industry

The Trump administration is holding the biggest offshore oil and gas lease auction in U.S. history Wednesday, offering all 77 million acres of unleased, available federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

The sale comes as administration officials seek to rescind drilling safety rules approved after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, reduce royalties paid by oil companies, and expand offshore drilling into every ocean in the country.

Keep reading... Show less
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt. Mitchell Resnick

Pruitt to Restrict Use of Scientific Data in EPA Policymaking

In the coming weeks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to announce a proposal that would limit the type of scientific studies and data the agency can use in crafting public health and environmental regulations.

The planned policy shift, first reported by E&E News, would require the EPA to only use scientific findings whose data and methodologies are made public and can be replicated.

Keep reading... Show less
Mity / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

20% of U.S. Diets Responsible for Almost Half of Country’s Food-Related Emissions, Study Finds

If you've been deliberating about going vegetarian, a study published Tuesday in Environmental Letters might give you the final push.

Keep reading... Show less
Sea Shepherd small boat assists the Liberian Coast Guard to chase down the F/V Hai Lung. Sea Shepherd

Notorious Toothfish Poacher Arrested by Liberian Coast Guard, Assisted by Sea Shepherd

A notorious Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish poaching vessel, famous for plundering the Antarctic, was arrested on March 13 in waters belonging to the West African state of Liberia by the Liberian Coast Guard, with assistance from the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd.

The F/V Hai Lung, known to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) by its previous name "Kily," was transiting through Liberian waters when it was boarded and inspected by a Liberian Coast Guard team working alongside Sea Shepherd crew on board Sea Shepherd's patrol vessel M/Y Sam Simon.

Keep reading... Show less

7 Must-See Films at the 42nd Cleveland International Film Fest

It's that time, again!

EcoWatch is proud to be a media partner of the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), now celebrating its 42nd year. This year, EcoWatch is honored to be sponsoring Anote's Ark. This documentary spotlights Kiribati, a small remote island facing devastating effects due to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: 'We have approved Bayer's plans to take over Monsanto because the parties' remedies, worth well over €6 billion, meet our competition concerns in full.' EU Commission Twitter

EU Approves Controversial Bayer-Monsanto Merger

The European Union approved Bayer's takeover of Monsanto, a major hurdle in the $66 billion merger that would create the world's largest integrated seed and pesticide conglomerate.

The European Commission said the German chemical-maker's takeover of the St. Louis-based agribusiness giant is "conditional on an extensive remedy package, which addresses the parties' overlaps in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture."

Keep reading... Show less
Todd Porter & Diane Cu

How Much Daily Activity You Need to Burn off 9 Healthy (But High-Calorie) Foods

By Luke Doyle

A healthy lifestyle is fueled by nutrient-rich foods that give your body the energy it needs. But some of these foods come with high calorie counts and the "healthy" label doesn't mean it's okay to consume unlimited amounts of them.

Keep reading... Show less
Marine debris laden beach in Hawaii. NOAA Marine Debris Program / Flickr

Ocean Plastic Projected to Triple Within Seven Years

If we don't act now, plastic pollution in the world's oceans is projected to increase three-fold within seven years, according to a startling new report.

The Future of the Sea report, released Wednesday for the UK government, found that human beings across the globe produce more than 300 million metric tons of plastic per year. Unfortunately, a lot of that material ends up in our waters, with the total amount of plastic debris in the sea predicted to increase from 50 million metric tons in 2015 to 150 million metric tons by 2025.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!