Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 2017

Publication Title

Ivey Business Publishing

Keywords

Brewery, Corporate social responsibility, sustainability, triple bottom line, stakeholder capitalism, B Corporation

Abstract

This case discusses the American craft-brewing company New Belgium Brewing (NBB), where the director of sustainability, Katie Wallace, must decide whether to invest significant company resources into becoming a B Corp certified company. More specifically, she must present her recommendation to the board of directors and to employees who are also shareholders. B Corporation is part of a non-profit organization encouraging sustainable business similar to LEED certification for construction or Fair Trade certification for coffee and chocolate. The idea behind B Corp certification is to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

New Belgium Brewing has always operated from a triple-bottom-line perspective, and given NBB’s impressive record Katie must make a recommendation on whether it is worth the commitment and investment in becoming B Corp certified. On the one hand the certification is demanding and includes things such as hundreds of questions around governance and how the company is run including interviews with workers and customers, investigations into their hiring practices, visits from inspectors, changing legal documents, and more. On the other hand, third party verification allows the company to communicate their values to customers and the greater business community, and the assessment process helps to identify, manage, and make progress towards, important goals through the use of B Corp metrics and benchmarks. Lastly, upon certification NBB becomes part of a larger business community with similar values and goals.