While more and more companies are marketing themselves as having a focus on sustainability, only a fraction of them are certified B Corps, and an even tinier fraction of those are publicly traded.
In this episode, Quartz CEO Zach Seward looks at one of them— the footwear brand Allbirds—as a case study for whether a company can put environmental concerns above all else, yet still appease Wall Street and sneakerheads alike. In his interview with Allbirds’s head of sustainability Hana Kajimura, she shares how good intentions can also be good for business.
While using renewable materials and eco-friendly supply chain practices means Allbirds’s shoes already have a 30% lower carbon footprint than a standard sneaker, several months before it went public in late 2021, the firm announced a commitment to achieving nearly zero emissions by 2030. Putting in the hard work it took to achieve B Corp status, Kajimura says, is helping prove it’s serious about meeting those goals—not only to investors, but also to customers, which has attracted more of them.
Its IPO will put continued pressure on Allbirds to live up to its promises, and if all goes well, will help it grow to a scale large enough to make a tangible difference. Not to mention help it model for other companies how going out on a limb for sustainability can, in the long run, truly pay off.