B Lab EU: Hi! Please tell us who you are and what you do. Ben: Hi! I'm Ben. I'm 44 years old and the daddy of a 15 month old little sailor: Ulysse. He is my "next generation". I live in Paris and Bordeaux. I surf, kite, scuba dive, free dive. My idols are "watermen", people who dedicate their life to the oceans. I am a marine biologist and sit on Surfrider Foundation Europe’s board.
My day to day work has been to be a consultant - sometimes a hacker - i.e. helping every kind of company to embed their business strategy with meaningful purpose… for more than 20 years now!
B Lab EU: When did you first hear about B Corps? Ben: I think it was in an interview from Yvon Chouinard and then some long discussions with Elisabeth Laville. At first it was "cool" to be part of a label. It was the beginning of something exciting… a global movement!
In 2013, we wanted to celebrate our company’s 20th anniversary (Utopies, ie the pioneer consultancy in CSR in France) and we chose the challenge of becoming the first B Corp in our country.
In 2015, I was in Amsterdam to officially launch the European B Corp movement and met so many impressive people including my crazy friends form Systema B in Latin America.
B Lab EU: What was it about the B Corp movement that struck you the most? Ben: The "movement" in itself. It’s not static, it’s brand new and exciting! It’s not just an assessment, or a label, it’s a living community of entrepreneurs who want to invent something new. Of course, knowing that great outdoor companies like Patagonia, Finisterre or Pictures Organics in France are B Corps and that talented surfers or snowboarders are our ambassadors, makes me feel very proud.
B Lab EU: Was it easy for your own business to certify as a B Corp? Ben: Our company is not a big international manufacturer with sophisticated issues and dilemmas. We are a team of 50 really dedicated consultants. Our job is to be a critical friend for our clients and 100% of our missions are focused on environmental or social issues.
Nevertheless our score is just below 100 points. It’s impressive how much the B.I.A is comprehensive and challenging. We really learned a lot on what we still can do when dealing with our suppliers, or on our HR policies.
B Lab EU: Have you seen business benefits of certifying your business as a B Corp? Ben: It's helped us to accelerate the development of our network and business abroad. And as a formal country partner, I have seen numerous companies in France developing their business and reputation thanks to B Corp.
B Lab EU: Has your involvement with the B Corp community stretched beyond the work you do with your own business?
Ben: Of course, and just like for every passion, time flies! For the last 4 years I've been involved in developing our growing community in France and in Europe but also more recently to influence French regulation.
On a more personal aspect, I met my girlfriend thanks to B Corp! I think we made the first "B Baby" ever. My best friends who are entrepreneurs are now joining our B Corp Family too…
Actually I think that I am obsessed with B Corp!
B Lab EU:Thank you for agreeing to be our co-host this year! What are you most looking forward to about the Summit?
Ben: My first expectation is that everyone will enjoy that moment spent all together. I am aware that its part of my duty! I am so proud to co-host the event with Charlotte.
B Lab EU:It's going to be a packed schedule this year. How do you advise attendees get the most from the Summit?
Ben: Don’t only stay with your friends or colleagues. B Corp is an amazing melting pot! So use every moment of these 2 days (and nights!) to meet new people and create opportunities of interdependencies.
B Lab EU: And finally, what one thing do you think the B Corp community should be focussing its energy on, in these troubled times?
Ben: Radicalism! We have to be consistent with the pioneers’ state of mind and settle common fights to embody our claim to use "business as a force for good".
B Lab EU: Thanks Ben. Look forward to seeing you at the Summit!