B Corp Certification: how do you become an impact company?

Anne-Sophie Fontaine - VP CSR & Communication

Bonduelle Group

VP CSR & Communication at Bonduelle, Anne-Sophie Fontaine has a background in the food industry, business unit management and cross-functional functions.

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As a committed agro-industrial player, Bonduelle is at the forefront of the food transition, for the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants. It is with determination that the group has embarked on the path to becoming a positive-impact company. This is not an insignificant decision, as it requires total investment not only from each of its entities but also from its ecosystem of stakeholders, with a shared desire to make healthy, sustainable plant-based foods accessible to the greatest number of people. For the company, the path towards B Corp certification is a formidable lever for accelerating change and cultural transformation. Beyond the B Corp assessment, an effective methodology for structuring and phasing this transformation over time, the B Movement Builders, of which Bonduelle is a co-founder along with five other multinationals, should have the effect of a catalyst for impact on a larger scale. Anne-Sophie Fontaine, CSR & Corporate Communication Director of the Bonduelle Group, focuses on this ambition. 

The B! Pact: Bonduelle on the road to B Corp certification

The realization of the urgency to accelerate the transition was sudden for many organizations. For Bonduelle, mobilization is nothing new: the process began in 2002, with the creation of our first CSR policy. At that time, issues such as energy and water consumption and workplace well-being were already identified as areas for improvement. Ten years later, our strategy was already better structured and we were in a position to evaluate the implementation of our commitments. The objective in 2012 was then to reduce the effects of our activities through a global vision of the company and an ambitious promise: “To become the world reference in ‘well-living’ through plant-based food”.

In 2019, we revealed our CSR commitments to 2025 in a pact: the B! Pact. We want to: improve our environmental footprint and encourage more responsible eating habits for all, through three pillars: food, people and planet. Each of these pillars brings together a roadmap that we have committed to follow since 2019. It is now a matter of maximizing and measuring our positive impacts. 

At Bonduelle, these commitments converge towards a goal: to become a B Corporation. The road to certification requires us to change our state of mind. Through support from the teams at B Lab – the B Corp certification organization – and particularly high standards, B Corp certification makes it possible to begin a cultural transformation of the company. This is essential to meet the ambition of becoming a company with a positive impact.

In this sense, B Corp is for us a lever for accelerating change and the transformation of the company. Certification is not an end but a means, since the steps to achieve it involve questioning and consequent efforts. The B Corp adventure began for us with a great lesson of humility, which was the opportunity to become aware of both our strong points and our margins for progress. This marked the beginning of a process of continuous improvement and permanent evaluation.

Bonduelle takes another step forward by co-founding the B Movement Builders

The B! Pact was the first step towards B Corp certification. Now Bonduelle is taking a new step by becoming a founding member of the B Movement Builders. Officially launched on September 10, 2020 by B Lab, the B Movement Builders is a group of six international companies created to integrate multinationals into the B Corp movement. Until now, the certification has worked well to integrate small companies, however, the evaluation has been less applicable to large non-native B Corp groups.  

The objective of the B Movement Builders is therefore to build and support the B Corp movement, enabling large corporations and multinationals to initiate change and adopt the B Corp mindset, an opportunity to learn how to carry their beliefs with their various stakeholders. Whether they are on the road to B Corp certification or just aspiring to it, these companies need to embrace the issues and make a cultural transition to address them.

The importance of such a movement also depends on the size of the companies that carry it. 

Their considerable impact makes it possible to carry real ideas and translate them into commitments that can be used to train employees and stakeholders. The fact that they are becoming more mature means that they can become more militant, legitimizing their position on strong environmental or social causes.

In this respect, the Bonduelle Group confirms its desire to be a major player in the transformation of companies and a driving force for large-scale change. The integration of the B Movement Builders reflects its change towards a more resilient business model with  positive impacts.

Why and how to join the B Movement Builders alongside Bonduelle and many others?

This was one of the lessons of the Covid-19 crisis: more than ever, companies need to work collectively and interdependently toward a system that is truly inclusive. This is the spirit of the B Movement Builders, which brings together six international founding members (the Bonduelle Group, steelmaker Gerdau, flavors and fragrance company Givaudan, and the retailer Magalu, with health-focused food and beverage maker Danone and beauty company Natura &Co serving as mentors). The founding members have total revenues of approximately ~$60bn USD and 250,000 employees.

The strength of the collective is a powerful tool for questioning companies governance and objectives. The process takes time and involves a lot of effort. Peer collaboration is a major component of the B Movement Builders program.

To join the movement, companies must meet conditions and make commitments at several levels. This initial selection includes a minimum revenue of $1bn USD. Companies wishing to join the B Movement Builders commit to following the principles of B Corp certification and to taking internal and external actions to bring them to life; this includes the signing by CEOs of the B Lab Declaration of Interdependence. Also included are the use of the B Corp impact assessment to measure and manage social and environmental impacts, the production and publication of a materiality matrix, and the sharing of progress towards at least three ambitious goals related to the UN sustainable development goals. Companies are thus called upon to speak out on these subjects and to fully commit themselves.

The B Movement Builders wants to grow! Any multinational company that places positive impact at the heart of its strategy can join us to amplify the movement and propose solutions to climate and social issues.

The history of CSR at Bonduelle has quite naturally led us down the road to B Corp certification, a source of dynamic change and cultural transformation. We are proud to join the B Movement Builders since the greatest challenges cannot be met by governments and NGOs alone. It is imperative that companies commit to do their part. More than ever in 2020, the B Movement Builders makes sense and we hope that it will embark more multinational companies. Business can be a powerful force for positive change and collective commitment.

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