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Upcoming EEA Show Feb. 2: Bart Houlahan, B-Lab Co-Founder, on State of Stakeholder Capitalism

Bart HoulahanIf anyone is an example that Stakeholder Capitalism can enhance returns for investors by creating value for customers, employees, supply chain and distribution partners, and communities, it’s Bart Houlahan. He, along with his partners Jay Coen Gilbert and Andrew Kassoy, co-founded B Lab in 2006. Houlahan joins the EEA YouTube show and library to discuss the state of Stakeholder Capitalism and his personal journey on Thursday, Feb 2 at 1 pm ET.
Based on Bart Houlahan’s career, Stakeholder Capitalism is by no means inconsistent with wealth creation. As of 2021, there are more than 6,300 Certified B Corporations in 89 countries covering 150 industries.
Founded in 2006 by Houlahan with Jay Coen Gilbert and Andrew Kassoy, B Lab describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Lab drives systemic change through three interrelated initiatives: 1) Certified B Corporations: a corporate certification for sustainable businesses and social enterprises that meet higher standards of social and environmental performance and legal accountability; 2) GIIRS Ratings and Analytics: a ratings platform (analogous to Morningstar and Capital IQ) that drives capital to impact investments by assessing the social and environmental performance of companies and funds; and 3) Benefit Corporations: a new, legally-recognized corporate form that changes corporate fiduciary duty, permitting companies to create shareholder value and social value.”
Click here to register to attend the live session if you wish to ask questions. ESM will post the show, podcast, and an article summary shortly after.
Prior to B Lab, Houlahan was President of AND 1, a basketball footwear and apparel company. Over the course of 11 years, he reportedly helped to finance, operate, and scale the business to $250 million in brand revenues with distribution in 80 countries. In 1999, AND 1 undertook a leveraged recapitalization in 1999 with TA Associates and was sold in May 2005 to American Sporting Goods of Irvine, CA. Before AND 1, Bart was an investment banker with Stonebridge Associates, BNY Associates, and Prudential-Bache Securities. He is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and an Advisory Board Member of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at the Fuqua School of Business. The Aspen Institute describes itself as a think tank focusing on leadership, common ground, and exchanging discussions in a non-partisan and non-ideological manner.
During the show, we’ll ask, Houlahan:
  • Why did he and his partners create B-Lab considering they were successful entrepreneurs in the shareholder capitalism world?
  • What problem are they trying to solve or, in other words, what value are they creating and for who?
  • Does he believe that responsible traditional corporations need to divert profits from shareholders to be socially responsible?
  • What does he believe are the responsibilities of a corporation in a capitalist world?
  • Does a corporation have to incorporate as a public benefits company to be socially responsible?
  • Considering that he launched B-lab almost 17 years ago, is he surprised with the speed or time it has taken for its principles to be understood, let alone widely applied?
  • What does he think about the controversy over ESG and Stakeholder Capitalism?
  • What does the Aspen Institute do?
  • How optimistic is he that business is moving in a more positive direction in turns of enhancing returns investors by creating rather than extracting wealth from stakeholders and the environment?
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