We started Citizen Wolf around the idea that 250 years after the Industrial Revolution created the fashion industry as we know it, there simply had to be a better way to make clothes at scale – better for customers, better for workers and better for the environment.
It’s been a long time coming but we are finally and very proudly now B Corp certified, humbled to join the ranks of 3,500 trailblazers globally such as Patagonia and Allbirds as well as our good friends Etiko, Good Day Girl, Arnsdorf and Outland Denim here in Australia.
In an industry like fashion where greenwashing is the norm and anyone can claim to be ‘sustainable’ because they use a bit of organic cotton, it’s incredibly easy to say you’re doing good but another thing entirely to prove it.
B Corp (short for B Corporation) is both a global movement and a framework to formalise using business as a force for good balancing people, planet and profit.
“B Corporation certification is the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” - B Lab
The proof is in pudding as they say, and whilst we always knew we were doing the ‘right’ thing, the extremely rigorous B Corp accreditation process allows us to benchmark ourselves against the very best ethical and sustainable businesses from over 70 countries around the world.
FROM SHAREHOLDERS TO STAKEHOLDERS
B Corp certification is a voluntary process for anyone wanting to hold themselves genuinely and transparently accountable for their business decisions, and the easiest way to understand how that’s different from a regular company is to know the distinction between shareholders and stakeholders.
Limited liability companies have a legal, fiduciary duty to maximise returns for shareholders. This is what drives the stock market, quarterly earnings reports, and the myopic short term thinking that surrounds both. B Corps on the other hand, have a legal duty to consider all ‘stakeholders’ in any business decision.
"It's kinda like giving both Mother Earth and Mother Teresa a seat on your board along with your traditional investors and advisors" – Zoltan Csaki, Cofounder, Citizen Wolf
So what is a stakeholder?
Investors are stakeholders (of course), but so are employees, customers and suppliers as well as the local community and the environment more broadly. It’s a much more complex and nuanced approach, with the ultimate goal of using business as a force for good rather than simply a profit-making machine for a tiny number of shareholders.
TL;DR – EVERYTHING MATTERS
“What gets measured, gets managed” – Peter Drucker
The thing that distinguishes B Corp apart from other accreditations like Ethical Clothing Australia (which we also have) is their multi-dimensional approach. Besides the stringent audit, B Corp requires businesses to demonstrate excellence in two or more of their five key pillars: governance, workers, community environment and customers.
“A business must demonstrate excellence in two or more of their five key pillars, you can’t just slap an organic cotton label on your t-shirts and call it a day.” – Eric Phu, Cofounder, Citizen Wolf
And it’s no walk in the park, with the comprehensive audit involving 200+ detailed questions on everything from breast feeding policies to waste water usage and even which milk is in the fridge (Minor Figures, obvs).
In other words, you can’t just slap an organic cotton label on your Tees and call it a day. Afterall, can you really be a force for good if you save the planet by exploiting workers?
Companies receive an overall score across all 5 categories with a minimum of 80 points to qualify for B Corp certification. To put that into context, the average score for first-time applicants is 51 points, and the average B Corp has only 90 points. It’s extremely difficult on purpose and why we’re thrilled to have achieved over 100 points.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
“The spirit of B Corp is that we are continually working to improve and constantly benchmarking ourselves to do better - not just in one area, but across all areas of the business.” - Eric Phu, Cofounder, Citizen Wolf
Becoming a B Corp isn’t simply a check box for us, it’s about actively making sure that all our stakeholders are taken into consideration in any business decision to become the best corporate citizen as we possibly can be.
And if you agree that our wallets are a political tool insofar as every time we spend money we’re voting for the world we want, then please consider using the B Corp logo as a shortcut to trust you’re making a good decision – the full list of certified B Corps in Australia and New Zealand is here.
Finally, thank you to every single one of our customers who have supported our mission to re-engineer the way clothes are made at scale, we could not do any of this without you!
PS – If you want to really deep dive into our business, you can view our full B Corp Impact Assessment here and we’d love to hear your feedback...