Best for the World: The Most Important List Of Businesses In The World

Inc. 500/5000 tells us who’s growing the fastest. The Best for the World list tells us who’s the best. Best for workers, best for communities, best for the environment

Fast growth is one measure of a business’s success, but it is no longer enough. The world needs businesses that are both high growth and high impact. The world needs businesses that make “yes/and” the norm, and leave the old thinking of “either/or” behind. The world needs social unicorns who, instead of aiming to hit $1 billion, reach to touch one billion lives.

With the rise of populist anger at a system that feels rigged, people are hungry for businesses that are changing the system. Businesses that compete not only to be best in the world, but also to be best for the world. As consumerstalentand investors increasingly seek values-aligned businesses to buy from, work for and invest in, entrepreneurs are seeking to create the greatest positive impact not just to be nice, but to be more successful.

There are two necessary conditions for system change.

The first is widespread recognition of system failure. Check.

The second is the widespread recognition of a viable alternative.

Earlier this month, B Lab released its annual list of Best for the World honorees. The 2017 list recognizes 846 businesses to inspire us and to learn from. These 846 businesses offer a positive vision of a better way to do business.This year’s honorees span 52 industries and 30 countries, and range from pre-IPO unicorns to multibillion-dollar publicly traded companies. More than any prior lists, this year’s Best for the World honorees are evidence of a global culture shift to redefine success in business.

Viable alternative. Check.

Best for the World honorees are recognized for meeting the highest standards of legal accountability to consider stakeholder interests when making decisions and of public transparency to rebuild trust. In addition, they are also recognized for achieving a verified score in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment. As in prior years, separate lists of honorees exist for overall, worker, customer, community and environmental impact. This year, two additional categories — Changemakers and Best for the Long Term — are recognized for making the most positive change in their B Impact Assessment over time and earning a top score in impact governance, respectively.

Who are some of these champions of change?

Several of the companies are multiyear honorees with names you’ll recognize. Beloved outdoor clothier and gear retailer Patagonia, whose brand value is based in its commitment to nature and sustainability. Employee-owned, wind-powered New Belgium Brewing, whose iconic bicycle culture and environmental values have propelled it to be a leader in the craft-beer market, able to expand to a second brewing facility last year in Asheville, North Carolina. Eyewear-industry disrupter and media darling Warby Parker, who donates a pair of glasses for each pair of its affordable designer glasses sold.

Some hail from unexpected industries, like Italian space-trash-remover D-Orbit, Vermont-based Chroma Technology Corp that crafts optical filters for the scientific community, and financial institution Clearinghouse CDFI. D-Orbit was a contributing voice in passing benefit corporation legislation in Italy; Chroma Technology Corp is worker-owned, with a set salary limit for its executives in order to “create a solution for income inequality”; and Clearinghouse CDFI provides affordable financing for lower-income communities who have been left behind by the traditional markets.

These companies prove that there is a viable alternative to business as usual. These companies prove that we can, and do!, live in a “yes/and” world. These companies prove that any company can compete to be not just best in the world, but best for the world.

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