“With the governance of the company over the past decade, we’ve really been following already what the B Corp concept is aligned with,” vice president of marketing Guy Burgstahler told NutraIngredients-USA. “It’s only since the B Corps movement came about that we said, ‘We’re already doing this.’ ”
The B Corp concept—or Benefit Corporation—is a legal structure that allows a company to build a mission statement or social benefit purpose into its corporate governance structure. Conventional corporations must as a matter of law hold their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders above all else.
Andrew Kassoy, one of the founders of B Lab, the B Corp certifying body, said the goal was to harness entrepreneurs’ natural energy to a social mission. According to the organization’s web site, B Corp certification is to sustainable business what LEED certification is to green building or Fair Trade certification is to coffee. B Lab certifies the companies on standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Participating companies fill out a detailed questionnaire. The process was designed to be rigorous, but not overly expensive so as to not to overtax early stage, entrepreneurial companies.
Profit motive maintained
“It’s about making profits and making sure that businesses sustain themselves. It’s not void of that,” Burgstahler said. “But it’s also about saving the ecosystem, saving the planet and the people on it.”
Burgstahler said the primary way Garden of Life pursues its social mission is in its commitment to organic agriculture.
“Because of the nature of our business we are focused on organic agriculture. This is a big deal because conventional agriculture is really a destructive methodology, when you look at all of the chemicals they use, the greenhouse gases they generate, the soil erosion they cause. We strongly believe in organic agriculture because we believe science has proved that it is regenerative,” he said.
Burgstahler said Garden of Life is also enmeshed in the communities in which it operates, whether by supporting community events, volunteering, or improving the local infrastructure in the areas where it sources its ingredients. He said the company recently built a school in a farming community in India where it sources some ingredients.
“When we were acquired by Atrium, the had a portfolio of businesses all spun around the health industry. What they didn’t have was someone like Garden of Life that was a true organic producer. We have remained very independent within that structure in how they allow us to operate and how much they believe in our cause,” Burgstahler said.