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Why Toms and Patagonia Are ‘Best for the World’

Patagonia and Toms were among 767 B Corps named “Best for the World” last week.

B Lab, the independent global nonprofit network that certifies B Corporations, released its annual Best for the World list on July 14. The distinction recognized the top-performing B Corps creating the greatest impact through their businesses in five key impact areas: community, customers, environment, governance and workers.

This year’s list recognized companies with B Impact Assessment (BIA) scores in the top 5 percent of each company size—businesses were divided based on employee count—across the different impact areas. In past editions of the program, B Lab included the top 10 percent. Given its growing community, the organization said it decided to narrow the window so as to better facilitate the exchange of “knowledge and best practices in a focused and manageable way.”

Despite the pared-down window, Patagonia Works, Patagonia Inc.’s holding company, once again made both the Best for Environment and Best for Community lists. The outdoor apparel company has received both distinctions every year since 2017 except for last year, when B Lab suspended its Best for the World list due to the pandemic. From 2017 through 2019, it had also made the Best for Changemakers and Best for Overall lists. B Lab removed both distinctions, however, from this year’s rankings.

Patagonia, long at the forefront of environmental initiatives, has continued building out its sustainable sourcing efforts this year. In June, it inked a multiyear sales agreement to secure access to Infinited Fiber Company’s regenerated textile fiber, Infinna. And in March, it formalized its efforts to convince U.S. farmers and state governments to embrace the sturdy crop under the Bring Hemp Home campaign.

The Best for the World list is also not the first time Patagonia has recently been recognized for sustainability efforts. In May, Textile Exchange’s Material Change Insights Report gave the company—alongside H&M Group, The North Face and just six other brands—its Leading Level 4 ranking for circularity. In December, management firm Kearney identified Patagonia as one of just three brands operating in Europe making “acceptable” circularity progress.

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Toms, certified as a B Corp since November 2018, once again made the Best for Community list. The recognition comes a year after the California footwear brand closed out the One for One giving model it was long known for. After 14 years—and 100 million pairs donated—Toms decided to instead commit one-third of its profits to charitable organizations. At the time, Amy Smith, Toms’ chief giving officer, said the shift would allow the company tackle bigger projects and retain the flexibility to focus on the areas that matter to the consumer.

Rowlinson Knitwear made B Lab’s Best for Workers list. An employee-owned business since 2015, the U.K.-based company specializes in school uniforms and corporate wear. It is an accredited Living Wage employer, a member of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, a full member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and is certified by The Planet Mark. The company claims to pay an 8 percent pension, provide interest-free loans and offer extra holidays. It also said it gives all its workers in Bangladesh industrial water filter machines. In Egypt, it covers weekly visits from a doctor and pays “much higher than local labour laws.”

B Lab also recognized Germany’s Sympatex Technologies as Best for the Environment for the second time since its B Corp certification in September 2018. The company supplies functional materials for clothing, footwear, accessories, protective workwear and technical applications. Meanwhile, the London-based fashion company House of Baukjen, a B Corp since March, received its first Best for the World award in the governance category. A member of the Fashion Pact, the company is home to two brands: Baukjen womenswear and Isabella Oliver maternity wear.