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TED Talks CSR Inspiration: “On Better Businesses” by Jay Coen Gilbert

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In this TED Talk from an independently organized TEDx event in Philadelphia, Jay Coen Gilbert shares his vision to solve society's problems through B Corporations—corporations that meet specific social and environmental qualifications. B Corporations, or "B Corps" for short, are awarded membership in the B Corporation community by undergoing a rigorous certification process. This certification process is managed by a nonprofit organization, called B Lab, which Gilbert co-founded. Within this certification process of higher standards and accountability, Gilbert insists, lies a historic opportunity: to create a better world by harnessing the power of business.

To explain this vision for change more clearly, Gilbert begins telling a story: the story of the evolution of capitalism. "Right here, right now," Gilbert tells the audience, "we are shifting from an outdated model of capitalism that was dominant in the 20th century to a more modern, 21st century version of capitalism."

Whereas in the old system, the primary goal was to maximize shareholder value, the new system aims to create social and shareholder value simultaneously. The reason for this shift, which is already gaining momentum, originates from the revelation that governments and nonprofits are necessary, but insufficient to address society's greatest challenges. The real power for change, Gilbert proclaims, lies in the hands of companies.

The problem, however, is that any company can seem like a responsible company. Due to lack of infrastructure in corporate law and savvy marketing techniques, consumers in today's economy cannot tell the difference between a company with a reputable CSR strategy and one that is merely faking it. That's where the B Corps certification process comes in.

It's time, Gilbert says hopefully, to bring veracity back into what it means to be a responsible company by creating higher standards.

You can watch the full TED Talk here.