Without having to go into a lengthy doomsday list of why the world is in trouble, an analogy that could represent the severity of the issue would be The Titanic heading for the iceberg, except the captains of planet earth actually know the iceberg is there; cracking, melting, disappearing. It’s going to take a very powerful force for good to steer us out of troubled waters. Our planet needs a Plan B.
Enter The B Team.
London, 9.30am on the 13th day of June 2013, Founders Sir Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz announced The B Team challenge leaders and the first three challenges they’ll be taking on in their united mission to change the values that drive businesses, to “prioritize people and planet alongside profit” and to move beyond the obsession with short-term growth.
Spearheaded by New Zealander Derek Handley, the young B Team CEO has a stunning inaugural line up of B Team Leaders actively supporting the not-for-profit initiative. The starting line up includes Laureate Muhammad Yunus – Father of microcredit and social business and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Arianna Huffington – president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, and Kathy Calvin – President and chief executive officer of the United Nations Foundation. Add to this eclectic mix Unilever CEO Paul Polman and First woman prime minister of Norway and deputy chair of The Elders, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and that makes five out of the 14 inaugural members. All 14 are prolific in their industry.
The initial “B Leaders” were selected by a global network of advisors and have come together as a group to focus on execution and action, catalysing and amplifying others’ efforts by undertaking specific global challenges, breaking down entrenched barriers, engaging other leaders and acting as a catalyst to help deliver “Plan B”.
In a live online broadcast to over 500 hundred gatherings in more than 115 cities around the world, The B Team Leaders also issued a joint Declaration today, acknowledging key global problems such as growing inequality, unemployment and the unsustainable use of natural resources.
I attended an event in Auckland, hosted by B Team Global Strategist Rebecca Mills. I met this big brain Kiwi about eight months ago, and I’d confidentially say she’s clocked in more hours this past year than anyone I know. It takes a lot of dedication, time and tenacity to sift and sort through the momentous challenges we face as a planet, and what it takes to overcome these obstacles – countless conversations with scientists, academics, entrepreneurs, environmentalists and activists. There are no cliques, no hidden agendas, and no power struggles – the challenges will be led by example. This hands on commitment is outlined in the declaration, signed by the B Team members and posted on the B Team website.
“And before we comment on the practices of others, we ‘Pledge’ that we will ‘Start at Home’. We will focus on ourselves, our own businesses and industries, and do our utmost to ensure we meet the principles of better business. As members of The B Team, we will work to overcome large-scale challenges where our collective voices can make a difference.”
The B Team will address three initial Challenges: “The Future of Leadership”, “The Future Bottom Line” and “The Future of Incentives” to help focus business away from short term gain and to balance the long term benefits for our people and our planet.
During the Q&A session Mo Ibrahim, whose foundation was created to support good governance and leadership in Africa, summed up the movement best when he said, “Light of transparency now shines on us all. Business must find its moral backbone.”