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Exponential Sustainability

30 November 2020

The B Corp Movement and its Success in Italy

Intesa is one of the first tech companies in Europe to take a B Lab B Impact Assessment (BIA). What role will technology and digital services play in tackling the major challenges of the 21st century?

The second decade of the 2000’s has seen the emergence of what are being called the most critical issues facing humankind: global warming, rising CO2 levels, water consumption, and worldwide income inequality. These problems are exponential in nature, and in recent years they have been exacerbated to the point they can no longer be ignored. The consequences they generate are extreme, almost inconceivable, and defy conventional linear solutions. To tackle these exponential challenges, we need exponential tools.

Moving toward “Stakeholder Capitalism”

2020 may well prove the year a turning point is finally reached. Through a series of grassroots movements, from Fridays For Futures to Black Lives Matter, the voices of GenZers (and others) have pierced the board room: according to Fortune Magazine’s most recent survey of 500 international CEOs, there is an ever more pressing need to move toward a kind of stakeholder capitalism*. The shift from a focus on shareholders to a focus on stakeholders means that the world’s environmental and social challenges become problems shouldered by the community and the business world alike.

Out of this shift comes the concept of a Benefit Corporation, and the B Corp movement. At its base is the idea that all companies are poised to pursue a dual goal: profits along with a positive social and environmental impact. This is a commitment being made by an increasing number of companies across the world, an undertaking that is now recognized and regulated in a number of countries including Italy. To become a B Corp, one must take an impact assessment known as the “B Corp Impact Assessment,” and score at or above 80 points.

The Situation in Italy

Italy has become an international success story for B Corps. Italian companies have secured certification at much higher rates than those in other countries. Italy was also one of the first countries to approve specific legislation to grant status to benefit corporations.

Why have B Corps become more popular in Italy than in other countries? The explanation most likely can be found within the fabric of our industries, where there is a large share of small-to-mid-size businesses – companies with a clear mission, duly carried out by the executive team. In that segment, we find ample motivation for tackling broader social and environmental issues. The popularity of B Corps in Italy has set us apart, and may well allow us to overcome some of our socio-economic hurdles, and pave the way for solving even problems that are even more daunting.

What does sustainability mean in the technological sphere?

Intesa is one of the first tech companies in Europe to take the B Impact Assessment. The relationship between technological innovation and social/environmental sustainability is much closer than one would think. To tackle the exponentiality of this century’s greatest challenges, we need a response that can keep pace with the problem. That response is technology.

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