By Laura Bacon

Why We Invested: The B Team

Photo credit: Christopher Farber

There is a strong business case to be made for transparency and accountability. Business leadership is critical in shifting the laws, norms, standards, and practices of both government and private sector.

Such leadership was on display at the UK Anti-Corruption Summit held in May 2016, when two companies, Unilever and Natura Cosmeticos, released details of their company ownership in open, structured data. Driving such commitments to “lead by example” on corporate transparency is just part of the work The B Team does to bring business front and center of the governance and transparency agenda.

To date, Omidyar Network has made key investments in civil society organizations such as Transparency International, Global Witness, ONE Campaign, Open Government Partnership, Open Contracting Partnership, and others.

Yet there is a need alongside civil society leadership for much stronger business-led arguments in the field, and we are keen to better understand how the case for transparency reforms made by the private sector can accelerate progress. This is why we have invested in The B Team, a nonprofit founded with the aim of prioritizing people and planet alongside profit. It positions business and business leaders at the center of solutions to some of the most challenging issues of our time, and it has emerged as a key partner in driving business-led commitments and action on transparency.

Our 3-year grant specifically supports The B Team’s Governance and Transparency Initiative, which has a record of success in moving forward the beneficial ownership transparency agenda. The grant will not only help strengthen the initiative’s existing work, allowing for deeper engagement to drive the implementation of key beneficial ownership commitments, but also allow it to expand its work on open contracting.

The initiative benefits from The B Team’s unique model that combines the high-level influence of a 20+ leadership team, comprised of key business and policy leaders including Mo Ibrahim, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Ratan Tata, with the power of businesses who can champion The B Team issues and raise the bar of what is expected from the private sector.

The B Team will use key partnerships with civil society actors, including a number of Omidyar Network investees, to support this work and target national government and prominent private-sector leaders and companies. They will also represent the business case for transparency and accountability on a number of key platforms and fora including the G20 and Open Government Partnership.

Complementing our existing investments in civil society, we see this grant in The B Team amplifying the case for transparency reforms we are advocating for, and having the potential for catalytic change in the transparency and accountability field.