‘Big egos’ and inaction: whatever happened to the B Team?
Monday, August 18, 2014
By Jo Confino
The B Team was set up more than a year ago by Sir Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz, the former chief executive of Puma and current director of luxury good company Kering, to “create a future where the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit.”
But critics complain the initiative has so far failed to make any meaningful headway. In fact, its only public pronouncements have been isolated statements such as recommending action in the wake of the Rana Plaza garment factory disaster and a call on the closing day of the Word Cup for Fifa to implement full reforms.
At the time of the B Team’s launch, I wrote that the corporate sustainability movement may be entering “a new dynamic phase” because it aligned influential business leaders running major corporations such as Natura, Celtel, Tata and Kering, with political influencers such as Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Norwegian prime minister. I hope I didn’t call it wrong.
Several people involved in the initiative have expressed concern that the lack of traction is the result of “big egos” among the business leaders, which have got in the way of agreeing on collective action. Getting them all together in the same room has also been difficult, given their hectic schedules. Another worry has been a lack of funding. The B Team has been getting by with just a handful of staff but you simply cannot build a global movement with so few resources.
While managing director Rajiv Joshi acknowledges that little appears to have been achieved so far, he insists the first year has been about building its network and resources so that it has a strong foundation ahead of formally launching its strategy next January at the Davos World Economic Forum.
Related NextBillion Post: You’re on the A-List to Join The B Team: Your invitation to the June 13 event is here