Doug Becker and Lorna Davis Discuss the Benefit Corporation Movement

October 31, 2017 - 5 minute read

At a recent senior global leaders meeting in Miami, we had the privilege of welcoming Lorna Davis, former CEO and Chairwoman of DanoneWave and current Chief Manifesto Catalyst for Danone, had a conversation with Laureate CEO, Doug Becker, about the importance of companies like Laureate and Danone leading the way in the benefit corporation movement. Danone’s U.S.-based subsidiary, DanoneWave, is the largest PBC in the world by revenue, and Laureate is the largest Certified B Corporation® in the world.

Doug and Lorna’s conversation centered around why companies like Laureate and Danone, which are large in size and scale should be contributing to the greater good of the world, and how we can collectively grow the movement.

Below are highlights of what Lorna shared from her company’s experience.

  • Lorna on why Danone’s size and scale can help grow the movement: Everybody has their place in this journey. The smaller-sized companies have a lot to add because of their and flexibility. We are big, which is sometimes a disadvantage. We are sometimes seen not to be trustworthy. But the flipside is that we are big and people take us seriously. If we make a declaration and require our suppliers to adopt certain values, they listen. An advantage to our size is our ability to influence a lot of people we do business with.”
  • Lorna on Laureate’s potential to lead by curriculum and skills development:This whole question of being an inspiration for each other, you [Laureate] becoming a PBC and a B Corp, and then going public, was extremely inspiring to us because nobody had done that before. Now, when I look at how universities are going to have to treat organizational design and leadership skills, there is a whole area of change that will need to happen. So when I look to your curriculum and your students’ influence on this journey in the next 10 to 20 years, I think you are going to be able to create a completely new world, and we want to help you do that.”
  • Lorna on the reason why all companies should be part of this movement:I think that there are three reasons why we do this:
    • On some level, this is just the right thing to do. We are parents, we are members of the community and we want the world to be a better place.
    • This gives a competitive advantage. You are able to equip the young people who are potential students of yours to live and operate in a world like the one we are talking about. I am flooded with emails from young people who want to work with us because of this, not because we make yogurt. And people want to be equipped for that. People are willing to work for us for free to learn this.
    • If you don’t do it, you’re going to be left behind. So you might as well do it now. When those young people are in the high level jobs, this will all be just obvious.”
  • Lorna on how for-profit companies can make a positive difference in the world:The whole question of profit as a motive is very interesting for me because having spent a lot of time with NGOs in my career, I am absolutely convinced that a profit system is the most effective way to make a difference in the world…The solidity of the system and the ability for business people to make tradeoffs is actually where the magic is. The people who run businesses are tradeoff experts. That’s what we do. That’s what you all do. And that’s a very rare skill in a commercial sense. I think it’s something that we need to use as a force for good. Which is why I think the journey is so exciting.”