Kathmandu joins B Corp movement

Kathmandu on Tuesday announced it has become a certified B Corporation, making it the biggest B Corp in Australia and New Zealand.

B Corps are for-profit businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability. 

Started in the US in 2006 as a way to raise awareness of purpose-driven businesses by giving them a recognisable seal of approval, there are now more than 3000 B Corps worldwide, and more than 300 in Australia and New Zealand, which is the fastest growing region per capita for B Corps.

Local retailers with B Corp certification include Outland Denim, Etiko, Koala, GlamCorner, Bellroy, Flora & Fauna, KeepCup, Good Day Girl, Koskela, Arndsorf and Kester Black.

The addition of Kathmandu to this list reflects a shift in the way many large companies view sustainability – no longer as a niche topic confined to the CSR team, but rather a core value that permeates every part of the business.

“Sustainability is part of Kathmandu’s DNA  and is integral to our entire operation, from our supply chain, to our materials and products and our operational footprint,” Xavier Simonet, Kathmandu’s CEO, said in a statement.

Online tool tracks impact

To receive B Corp certification, organisations need to earn a certain number of points on the B Impact Assessment, an online tool that asks around 200 questions in five key areas: governance, workers, community, environment and customers.

The tool is administered by B Lab, a nonprofit with locations in 26 countries, which sets the global standards, awards B Corp certification and advocates for the adoption of ‘benefit company’ status at a state level.

In the US and other countries, businesses can register as a ‘benefit company’, which means they are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on all stakeholders, such as employees, suppliers and the planet, not just shareholders. This locks in their purpose, no matter who owns or runs the company.

Benefit companies currently have no legal status in Australia, though B Lab Australia and New Zealand is actively campaigning for an opt-in legal form to be introduced through a minor amendment to the Corporations Act.

This issue will become more critical as publicly listed companies like Kathmandu join the B Corp movement. T2, which is owned by Unilever, is also in the process of becoming a B Corp, and B Lab Australia and New Zealand is taking the opportunity to encourage other big businesses to get on board.

“Kathmandu’s announcement as New Zealand’s first B Corp-certified multinational retail business, and Australasia’s biggest B Corp, is a significant milestone for Australia, New Zealand and the wider B Corp movement,” Andrew Davies, CEO of B Lab Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement.

“Certification is open to all sizes of business, and we are seeing increasing interest from large corporations across the world, Kathmandu’s certification sends an important signal for other big businesses to follow in their lead.”


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