North Bay becomes the hub of B Corp companies. who promote progressive values


In an industry of more than 11,000 other wineries in the United States, Ron Rubin knows it’s hard for him to stand out in the marketplace.

The Ron Rubin winery in Sevastopol already has a good reputation with its renowned Burgundian varietals from the Russian River Valley. He is also known for Rubin’s generosity in providing free defibrillators to any winery whose staff are trained by the American Red Cross in their use.

But this is not enough.

And so, his winery went through an arduous process that took 651 days to become certified as a B Corporation last month. Companies must obtain a sufficiently high score in their environmental commitment; treatment of workers; overall relationship with the local community and customers; and their corporate governance structure to earn the designation, which is granted by the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit B Lab.

“It’s a global community, and I love being associated with other Certified B Corporations,” Rubin said.

He then listed some of the other well-known brands that have also achieved such status, which has helped endear them to consumers for their progressive vision: clothing retailers Patagonia and Bombas. Ben & Jerry’s hippie-inspired ice cream. Warby Parker, the hipster eyewear e-tailer.

“How can we inspire the wine industry? It’s really unbelievable. There are so few B Corp certified wineries. “, he added.

On the North Coast, however, such status is nothing new as some of the most recognizable consumer products come from our own local B Corp certified businesses. : Petaluma’s Clover Sonoma Dairy Products; beers from North Coast Brewing Co. in Fort Bragg; fermented beverages from Biotic Ferments of Petaluma; vegetarian dishes from Amy’s Kitchen Inc. of Petaluma; and tea from Traditional Medicinals in Rohnert Park.

The businesses are a reflection of the region’s many forward-thinking leaders, said Ethan Brown, acting executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Council.

“I think it’s also heavily influenced by a market that identifies as much with the social and environmental values ​​of a given company as with the products. The B-Corp. The designation is gaining enough recognition that consumers can make choices that align with their own values ​​more easily than ever,” Brown added.

The examples aren’t just for consumer goods for the roughly 15 companies that have achieved B Corp certification. in Sonoma County. These include Boox, a producer of reusable shipping packaging in Petaluma; Solar Works, a solar installation provider in Santa Rosa; and Solectrac, an electric tractor manufacturer located in Windsor.

It also reflects a growing movement to obtain such certification.

Rubin noted that his delay was partly due to the influx of B Corp. status requests, as 4,000 submissions have been sent to B Lab since the start of 2020 from companies around the world. Overall, 5,659 companies have achieved certification since the process began in 2006, covering 456,610 workers in these companies.

“It’s not just national, but it’s definitely a global trend,” said Christopher Marquis, a professor at the University of Cambridge in the UK and who has written a book on the subject.

The pandemic has reinforced for many leaders the need to formalize their commitments and values ​​as a global company, especially in the more progressive areas, he said. “It just created a separation between different types of businesses and businesses,” Marquis added. “It’s something that grows a bit.”

The growth is not without controversy, particularly over whether worker standards are sufficient. In March, the Teamsters Union filed a complaint with B Lab regarding Amy’s Kitchen on behalf of longtime employee Cecilia Luna Ojeda and alleged a “callous disregard for health, safety and human rights of workers” which goes against its standards.

The union is trying to organize workers at Amy’s factory in Santa Rosa.

The Teamsters noted that all certified companies must sign an agreement with B Lab which includes guiding principles that “business should be conducted as if people and place matter” and that Amy’s fell short. by having to address Cal/OSHA worker violations.

B Lab did not return emails about the status of the complaint.

Amy’s has defended the treatment of its workers and the company said it respects their right to unionise. The company’s labor standards were the second highest category behind its environmental work in its overall B Corp. score, with higher ratings in compensation as well as health and safety. A 2020 company disclosure as part of its certification noted that Amy’s had settled two worker class action lawsuits regarding rest period claims and a technical violation regarding pay stubs.

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