With so many companies talking about being green, sustainable and charitable, how can the public tell the difference between a good company and just good marketing? Bart Houlahan describes B Labs’ certification of B Corporations—where B stands for the benefit created for all stakeholders—and how these companies address social and environmental issues with the power of capitalism. Encouraging designers to be “the change we all seek,” Houlahan challenges the audience to think about how they can bring sustainability to their own businesses.
Bart Houlahan is the co-founder of B Lab, helping to create a better world through business by setting a new corporate standard for social and environmental performance. B Corporations are purpose-driven and create benefits for all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Previously, he was CFO, COO and president of AND 1, a basketball footwear, apparel and entertainment company. As the principal operator of the business, Houlahan joined AND 1 in its second year, when revenues totaled just $4M. Over the course of the next 11 years, he helped to finance, operate and scale the business to $250M in brand revenues with distribution in 85 countries worldwide. AND 1 undertook a leveraged recapitalization in 1999 with TA Associates, and eventually was sold in May 2005, to American Sporting Goods. Before AND 1, Houlahan was an investment banker with Stonebridge Associates, BNY Associates and Prudential-Bache Securities, specifically focused on providing corporate finance and merger and acquisition services to small-cap businesses ranging in size from $20M to $500M. Houlahan grew up in Chicago, is a graduate of Stanford University, and now resides in Devon, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two daughters.