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Background

Social businesses that have been validated by B Lab, a non-profit organization, are referred to as B Corporations (B Corp). Businesses are accredited depending on the value provided for non-shareholder constituents like as personnel, the local people, and the environmental paradigms. Crossing a specific performance threshold on these dimensions, the company needs to make certain amendments to its corporate charter so that all of the interests of the stakeholders get incorporated ("Why Companies Are Becoming B Corporations", 2022).

 Increase in sales in B Corps over the last five years

Figure 1: Increase in sales in B Corps over the last five years ("Why Companies Are Becoming B Corporations", 2022)

This suggests that a fundamentally different governance philosophy is being followed at the firm. It was in the year 2007 that the first generation of B Corporations was certified ("Why Companies Are Becoming B Corporations", 2022). Since then the number of firms getting the certification has increased exponentially. At present, there are more than 1,700 B Corps across 50 countries.

The B Corp organization that will be referred to for understanding the concepts of sustainability better is Vita Coco. The company started back in the year 2003 and the business idea was surrounding the hype of coconut water hype in the U.S ("Our Story", 2022). It did not take Vita Coco to become a household name and to attract super-fans and celebrity investors who could catapult the brand to stardom. The brand then started thinking about providing maximum service to society and this is where it started connecting to the root levels. The first concern was to connect the farmers to the business model. The business set a goal of significantly impacting 1 million individuals in coconut growing areas around the globe.

Sustainability has indeed been described as the process of satisfying current requirements without jeopardising future generations' capacity to satisfy their own demands. Three prime concepts provide a proper definition of sustainability—economic, environmental, and social (Purvis, Mao & Robinson, 2019). In other words, sustainable practices are those that are supportive of ecological, human, and ecological health and vitality. It is presumed per the concept of sustainability that resources are finite and that these should be made use of in a rational manner (Fisch, 2018).

Sustainability value creation refers to the values created by the business organization in terms of opportunities, risks that are associated with the economic, social, and environmental departments. It is mainly focused on the resources plan of the company that can create value for society by ensuring and observing sustainability (Laukkanen & Tura, 2020). The main concept of sustainable value creation focuses on maximizing the profit for the organization and maintaining the relationship with the customers, suppliers, and employees.

Organizational Overview

  Sustainable Value Creation

Figure 2:  Sustainable Value Creation (Sadovska, Ekelund Axelson & Mark-Herbert, 2020)

The sustainability value creation will provide an organization the benefits of having the best or retaining the best people for suitable work, helping a company to develop profitability with access to individual information (Orefice & Nyarko, 2021). Having sustainable values the organization ensures behaviors, actions, and financial and non-financial risks and opportunities.

Conscious capitalism is an economical and sociopolitical theory based on social responsibility. The main concept behind capitalism is that every business needs to remember that while making a profit, it should operate adhering to all of the business ethics. All of the stakeholders of the project need to be highly involved in the project plan or any new venture being planned by the firm (Vargas-Hernandez & Gonzalez, 2018). This concept of conscious capital was developed by Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey and marketing professor Raj Sisodia. There are four different associative revetaions targeted towards guiding the conscious capitalism that are higher purpose, conscious leadership, conscious culture, and lastly stakeholder orientation (Nayak, 2022). It can be said that if any business adheres to the various principles of conscious capitalism then it both inspires as well as gets well engaged with its stakeholders.

A circular economy is that which consists of markets that provide an incentive for reusing products instead of scrapping them and thereafter removing novel possessions (Morseletto, 2020). In such type of an economy, various forms of waste including clothes, obsolete electronics, and more are returned to the economy and made used in a more efficient manner (Camacho-Otero, Boks & Pettersen, 2018). This provides a better way to protect the environment and make use of the natural resources in a much better way. The main idea behind this is that the “goods of today are the resources of tomorrow at yesterday’s resources prices”.

 Benefits of Circular Economy

Figure 3: Benefits of Circular Economy ("Circular Economy | UNCTAD", 2022)

It is a circular economy that promotes waste elimination and encourages continual and harmless usage of natural capitals. Here as well an alternative is offered that can yield up to $4.5 trillion in terms of economic benefits by 2030 ("Circular Economy", 2022). With the world worrying about the rapid depletion of natural resources, a circular economy can be one of the best alternatives.

Embedding sustainability into the organizational operations is much more difficult as it takes under its purview many factors. Embedding sustainability across the organization requires engagement, empowerment, and much more that include inspiring colleagues as well. Developing awareness and ensuring that actions of the firm are adhering to sustainability goals is also a demand in this case (Ferns, 2019). Again, sustainability can be embedded into certain functions or defined leadership tiers to develop a sense of ownership and empower the leaders to be specific about sustainability. Through the means of skills workshops, site visits, group projects, and lastly experiential learning sustainability can be embedded into the organizational work functions. Embedding sustainability in the different functions of a firm can help in achieving better results. With the customers becoming more and more concerned about the factor of sustainability and how their firms are addressing this factor, every organization needs to think about this. Incorporating sustainability into the functions of the firm will be of much help to gradually lead in the direction of a high level of productivity (Maliatsina, 2018). Embedding sustainability into the operations of the firm will require looking at sustainability differently, reviewing the present corporate and sustainability strategies, developing and selecting new strategic options, executing the new strategies, and then developing a compact plan to follow the strategies and policies. This will help the organizations to be more sustainable in their ways to address the present-day issues being faced.

Sustainability Theoretical Concepts

Certified B Corporations (B Corps) are being celebrated as one of the potential solutions to the ever-growing challenge of sustainability. They are playing a pivotal role here, leading by example in what some may suggest is a possible evolution of business”. This can be well understood from the case study of Vita Coco. Established in the year 2003, the company has come a long way ("Our Story", 2022). The idea behind the company and the way it started can to some extent be linked to the concept of sustainability. Two friends took the feedback of some women on a serious note and thought of introducing coconut drink. Then again it did not make it late to realize that coconut production was having a positive impact on the farming communities which is why “The Vita Coco Project” was launched. They took the oath of positively impacting 1 million people in domains of coconut farming communities across the world ("Impact", 2022). As already mentioned above the term sustainability is made of up three distinct pillars that are economic, environmental, and social. Here the company by including the farmers or showing concern about them proved that they are worried about society. They are not just to make profits but rather to ensure that they can give back maximum to society. To understand it better, the explanation can be given in this way that the company had nothing to do with coconut farming but still it took a note that coconut farming was being benefitted and that they should give some importance to this factor. Vita Coco understood the fact that coconut farming communities in remote areas of the world are encountering various challenges that include weak infrastructure, traditional farming practices, and a lack of proper schools for their children. Taking it to be their duty to enhance the living standards of the farmers, Vita Coco started with a give, grow, and guide philosophy. With this, the coconut farmers are helped to increase their yearly yield, sustainably grow coconuts, and lastly diversify their crops as well. The company did not stop here rather it also ventured into educational programs to ensure that it is contributing even to the future generations of these communities ("Impact", 2022). This shows the concern or the sustainable mindset of the company towards its environment, people, and economy. Educating the children of these coconut farmers will help them get good jobs and get placed well thus enhancing the standards of living of these farmers.

Sustainable Value Creation

Here in this context of Vita Coco, sustainability value creation can also be said to be addressed properly. The company is a publicly-traded association of brands that is on a mission to reimagine what exactly is possible when brands start delivering healthy, nutritious as well as great-tasting products ("The Vita Coco Company", 2022). The products thus developed need to be better for consumers or the target market and the entire world as well. The company has a belief that nature is the ultimate provider and humans need to check on the mess they are making by intervening with nature. The company is a staunch believer in the fact that resources should be used in a rational way and that usage be done only for the betterment of the world. The culture of the company suggests that every employee is expected to work hard to create ethical, sustainable, and environment-friendly products that earn profit for the firm and also protect the planet ("The Vita Coco Company", 2022). The company also cares about its employees and thinks that productivity can be enhanced only with an inclusive workplace. External partners are collaborated with so that proper systems can be developed for democratizing nutrition and more.

The company also does justice to the term conscious capitalism as it ensures involving its stakeholders in its decisions. The company got the tag of Public Benefit Corporation and well understands that they have to balance the financial interests of the stockholders with the best interests of the stakeholders who are affected by the conduct of the company. When other companies work with a mindset of “growth-at-all-cost”, Vita Coco focuses on profitable, responsible as well as sustainable growth ("The Vita Coco Company, Inc.", 2022). They think that this strategy that they have is not just the most prudent but also value-maximizing for all of their stakeholders. It has always believed in taking necessary actions that are in the best interests of those stakeholders who get materially affected by the company's benefit purpose ("The Vita Coco Company, Inc.", 2022). Thus, Vita Coco can be said to be aligned with the factor of conscious capitalism. It takes all of the four guiding principles of conscious capital that are higher purpose, conscious leadership, conscious culture, and stakeholder orientation on a serious note. The company stands by all of the principles of the factors and thus can be said to be sustainable in all its efforts put forward towards the growth of the brand.

Conscious Capitalism

The company is also contributing to a circular economy by supporting initiatives that will help offset emissions as well as energy usage from occasions or festivals such as Global Citizen Festival. On October 30, 2018, Vita Coco teamed up with Global Citizen to address make the occasion more environment friendly ("How Vita Coco Is Helping to Offset the Carbon Footprint of the Global Citizen Festival", 2022). The company believes that it is important for it to have both a local as well as a global impact on society. This is the reason why the company funded projects through Code Redd. Code Redd is a nonprofit organization that works in the direction of bringing in a reduction in greenhouse emissions aiming at decreasing the carbon footprint of the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park. Vita Coco provided funds for emissions reduction efforts in the regions of Indonesia and Brazil ("How Vita Coco Is Helping to Offset the Carbon Footprint of the Global Citizen Festival", 2022). These are the regions from where the company sources its products using Code Redd's REDD+ initiative. The organisations are working together to rehabilitate woods and promote education, women's participation, indigenous business expansion, job creation, and expansion of agricultural functionalities, among other things. The Global Citizen Festival is making a move towards becoming a zero-waste festival and partners such as Vita Coco are helping them in their venture. Thus, in this way the company is contributing toward a circular economy and not just focusing on its profit but is also focusing on the development and upliftment of society.

Lastly, after all of the discussions done it is clear that the company has well-embedded sustainability in its organization. It has always been proactive in the development of awareness and ensuring that the actions being taken are in favor of the organization and society as a whole. Vita Coco does not just think about its benefits and profits but puts in measures to be sustainable in all of the actions it does.

Thus, from all of the information gathered and the critical evaluation done, B Corps as Vita Coco needs to be acknowlwdged being one of the comprehensive  remedies to the ever-expanding complexities related to sustainability. They can play a central role in the evolution of the business environment. These companies can serve as an example for other businesses who are wanting to be sustainable in their efforts and trying to uplift society.

Circular Economy

Conclusion 

From the discussion done above, it can be said that B Corps are putting in much effort to be sustainable in their operations and way of working. They are considering not just the profits of their business firms but are checking that the environmental concerns be addressed as well. It has to be accepted that sustainability needs to be one of the core factors in every business. Organizations need to be more concerned about their environment and they should also take the responsibility of making society aware of the fact that sustainability is something that is required to support the demands of future generations. Leaders need to consider the factor of sustainability seriously and there have to be plans developed to check that the actions of the firm are in no way harming the environment. Vita Coco can be looked upon as one of the organizations that are aware of the factor of sustainability and has aptly obtained the B Corp certification. This proves that companies can make their brand and increase their customer base even after being responsible for the environment. Sustainable measures will help develop the brand image of the firms and better support the goals of the organization.

References

Camacho-Otero, J., Boks, C., & Pettersen, I. N. (2018). Consumption in the circular economy: A literature review. Sustainability, 10(8), 2758.https://www.mdpi.com/323894

Circular Economy | UNCTAD. Unctad.org. (2022). Retrieved 2 April 2022, from https://unctad.org/topic/trade-and-environment/circular-economy.

Circular Economy. World Economic Forum. (2022). Retrieved 31 March 2022, from https://www.weforum.org/projects/circular-economy.

Ferns, G. (2019). Thinking globally, teaching sustainability: Embedding sustainability in international business studies and addressing student responses. In Incorporating Sustainability in Management Education (pp. 83-104). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-98125-3_5

Fisch, J. E. (2018). Making sustainability disclosure sustainable. Geo. LJ, 107, 923.https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/glj107&section=32

How Vita Coco Is Helping to Offset the Carbon Footprint of the Global Citizen Festival. Global Citizen. (2022). Retrieved 31 March 2022, from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/vita-coco-global-citizen-festival-carbon-offset/.

Impact. Vitacoco.com. (2022). Retrieved 31 March 2022, from https://vitacoco.com/pages/impact.

Laukkanen, M., & Tura, N. (2020). The potential of sharing economy business models for sustainable value creation. Journal of Cleaner Production, 253, 120004.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652620300512

Maliatsina, I. (2018). Embedding sustainability into construction supply chain management: An empirical investigation. https://lutpub.lut.fi/handle/10024/158482

Morseletto, P. (2020). Targets for a circular economy. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 153, 104553.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921344919304598

Nayak, B. S. (2022). The Bhagavad Gita in the making of conscious capitalism.https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JFC-09-2020-0194/full/html

Orefice, C., & Nyarko, N. (2021). Sustainable value creation in event ecosystems–a business models perspective. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 29(11-12), 1932-1947.https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09669582.2020.1843045

Our Story. Vitacoco.com. (2022). Retrieved 31 March 2022, from https://vitacoco.com/pages/our-story.

Purvis, B., Mao, Y., & Robinson, D. (2019). Three pillars of sustainability: in search of conceptual origins. Sustainability science, 14(3), 681-695. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11625-018-0627-5

Sadovska, V., Ekelund Axelson, L., & Mark-Herbert, C. (2020). Reviewing value creation in agriculture—A conceptual analysis and a new framework. Sustainability, 12(12), 5021.https://www.mdpi.com/747356

Sustainable product market could hit $150 billion in U.S. by 2021. Foodbusinessnews.net. (2022). Retrieved 2 April 2022, from https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/13133-sustainable-product-market-could-hit-150-billion-in-us-by-2021.

The Business Case for Caring. Medium. (2022). Retrieved 2 April 2022, from https://bthechange.com/the-business-case-for-caring-c92743555ffe.

The Vita Coco Company, Inc.. (2022). Retrieved 31 March 2022, from https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1482981/000119312521296568/d197386ds1a.htm.

The Vita Coco Company. The Vita Coco Company. (2022). Retrieved 31 March 2022, from https://thevitacococompany.com/.

Vargas-Hernandez, J. G., & Gonzalez, D. C. (2018). The discussion on stakeholders in contrast with the shareholders theory: Reconciliation to a conscious capitalism. SAMVAD, 14, 55-57.https://samvad.sibmpune.edu.in/index.php/samvad/article/view/117199

Why Companies Are Becoming B Corporations. Harvard Business Review. (2022). Retrieved 31 March 2022, from https://hbr.org/2016/06/why-companies-are-becoming-b-corporations.

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