A LETTER TO LEADERS
Dear business leaders:
Eight years remain to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Yet the current economic system is ill-prepared to mitigate, and not built to solve, our interdependent challenges. If humanity is to safely navigate this decisive decade, principled and courageous business leadership is needed right now. In this spirit, we humbly share The New Leadership Playbook.
Nothing about the inherent nature of business dictates that irreversible environmental damage, poor labor standards and conformity in leadership are prerequisites to profit.
We are The B Team, a global collective of business and civil society leaders who believe in a better way of doing business. You can learn more about us here. We believe that capitalism has spurred unprecedented innovation and created opportunities previously unforeseen in human history. We also acknowledge that private industry has contributed to the problems we face today—a primary driver, many would argue. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Nothing about the inherent nature of business dictates that irreversible environmental damage, poor labor standards and conformity in leadership are prerequisites to profit. Successful stewardship of our businesses can exist alongside responsible stewardship of our communities and planet. Future generations are counting on it.
It’s time we catalyze a new leadership model that places humanity at the heart of business purpose. This moment demands leadership that is inclusive, transparent, urgent and boldly collaborative. Let’s commit ourselves to measuring what truly matters and consciously create sustainable value for all stakeholders.
Our aim is to help build an inclusive economy by 2030—an economy that safeguards our natural environment and ensures a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for all. Together with you, we hope to drive concrete action toward these ends.
Why does a better way of doing business matter? It’s quite simple. A healthy planet preserves the balance that makes prosperity possible. It permits business to thrive. As B Team vice-chair Sharan Burrow often says, “There are no jobs on a dead planet.” As leaders, let’s commit to a regenerative future.
Our employees, customers and investors are increasingly giving voice to their values, signaling a preference for inclusive workspaces as well as products, services and business models that do no harm to the planet. As leaders, let’s live our values and meet them there.
The B Team Compass reflects the principles of sustainability, equality and accountability, which unify our efforts. We believe that business leaders can and must commit to resetting the status quo, demonstrating that principles and profit can go hand in hand.
New leadership is also about humility. We don’t have all the answers, nor are we doing enough. But we believe in sharing our experiences to compel bolder leadership in ourselves and in others. For instance, it is our deeply held view that diverse voices and lived experiences in leadership make any organization stronger and better fit for tomorrow. As B Team leaders, we are publicly committing to achieving gender balance and equitable representation within our collective by 2025, and we invite you to join us on this journey.
Leadership is more than a set of prescriptions and, we believe, best understood through stories. The goal of The New Leadership Playbook is to uplift stories of how business can be a catalyst for a more inclusive economy. Over time we will develop this space to showcase more stories and opportunities for action. We invite you to consider this a living playbook.
This moment demands leadership that is inclusive, transparent, urgent and boldly collaborative.
As you make your way through the stories, consider your influence and points of leverage within your own business and professional networks. Where, how and to whom can you advocate for change?
Our ambition is high, and the role for business is clear: we can build a better world when leaders everywhere commit to brave, collaborative action today. If we are courageous, we can shift behavior and corporate norms and deliver lasting change for the wellbeing of people and the planet.
How will you choose to lead?
CEO, Ingka Group (IKEA); chair, The B Team
president, CEO & chair, Harley-Davidson, Inc.;
co-founder, The B Team
executive chair, Mastercard; vice-chair, General Atlantic
founder, chair & co-CEO, Salesforce
former president & CEO, UN Foundation
former CEO, NRG Energy
former CEO & chair, Danone
founder, Global Optimism; former executive secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
director general, GSMA
vice chair, Roche Holding AG
founder & CEO, Thrive Global
Sir Mo Ibrahim
founder, Celtel; founder & chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
founder, Dream Corps
CEO & president, Solvay
former president, World Wildlife Fund International
general secretary, International Trade Union Confederation; vice-chair, The B Team
Sir Richard Branson
founder, Virgin Group; co-founder, The B Team
Joseph D. Kenner
president & CEO, Greyston
former CEO, Engie
co-founder & co-chair, Natura &Co
chair emeritus & former CEO, Dow Chemical
UN Special Envoy on Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investments; former chief investment officer, Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan
former chair & CEO, PepsiCo
founding CEO & president, Virgin Unite
Torben Möger Pedersen
former CEO, Unilever; co-founder & chair, IMAGINE
former president of Ireland; chair, The Elders
CEO & founder, Chobani; founder, Tent Partnership for Refugees
chair & founder, Broad Group China
Professor Muhammad Yunus
chair, Yunus Centre; Nobel Peace Prize recipient