Barcelona is a city of business, commercial and enterprising. A melting pot which generates new ideas and draws hundreds of thousands of executives, entrepreneurs and investors annually. It’s not surprising that it is also a good breeding ground for the new type of business that is revolutionising the economy of the 21st century. Have you heard of ethical business? We’ll take a look of some examples.
Ethics have arrived in the world of business and are here to stay. The social values of a business are nothing new, but it seemed like until recently, in our country ethics were reserved for the third-sector and its non-profit entities.
Of course, large businesses have their social funds, their pro bono services and their corporate responsibility, but what about their business model? Does it consider the triple impact? Or only think of filling the pockets of the shareholders with no constraints beyond those set out by the law? This is certainly what it looks like to the eyes of the average citizen today.
However, the social and solidarity economy is the new spearhead of economic development worldwide. Here, we have the good fortune that this model is being pushed forward by the Barcelona City Council. It has recognised that in times of crisis, social businesses are more resilient and more able to safeguard employment than any other. The social and solidarity economy encompasses non-profit organisations, but also social businesses with any kind of legal status, that look not only for economic profits but also social and environmental gains.
In fact, in the Sant Marti district, a new facility dedicated to the development of this economy has just launched: InnoBAdora is a business incubator that is betting on this type of socially based ethical business.
We spoke to Oriol from the cooperative Entramat, one of the businesses selected for Barcelona Activa´s new business incubator. For Oriol, the ethical Barcelona is a city that covers the basic needs of housing, nutrition and quality jobs. From his cooperative they try to offer citizens alternatives to the buying and or renting of apartments, proposing innovative formulas such as cohabitation or masovería urbana (work-for-rent agreements whereby tenants can live rent-free in return for carrying out building repairs or maintenance).
And if we broach the subject of access to high quality food as a fundamental right in the creation of a more ethical Barcelona, we also find in the InnoBAdora, a project setting up a cooperative supermarket similar to the famous FoodCoop created in Brooklyn in 1973. For the team promoting this project, a more ethical Barcelona means “a city committed to its citizens; open, participatory, sustainable, socially, economically, and urbanistically fair…” To conclude, a Barcelona that is respectful of its environment, that promotes short supply chains, with is access to products which are local, ecological and healthy… utopia?
Ethical businesses, generate, or should generate, quality jobs. This is also one of the premises evaluated amongst the scoring criteria to be a Bcorp Business. ¿Does the Bcorp Business certification ring a bell? It’s a tool, as well as a community and a badge to distinguish those businesses that are aiming for the triple impact. In short, businesses that don’t just hope to generate profits for their owners or partners, but also commit themselves to aiding social advances and/or environmental improvements in their surroundings.
Increasingly in our city, you hear the buzz of ethics bursting into all areas of the personal and everyday life of our citizens, institutions and businesses. As a city of events and conferences, every year Barcelona accepts important appointments for this new economy based on ethics and triple impact. Julie, founder of Withfor, was at Business with Social Value 2018 and was able to ascertain that “ethical policies, or the application of ethics in policies, equate to promoting areas of contact between people through various kinds of organisations in favour of more democratic and sustainable forums.” For this to be reflected in our day-to-day life “these policies need to be capable of conveying the needs of the organisations in order to find real solutions.”
And that’s what we are doing, trying to create these spaces for dialogue and meetings, in which little by little, businesses investing in ethics can share more humane and efficient practises and ways of working.
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