To find out what the perfect headquarters of the post Covid era should look like, you have to go as far as Parma, in a small piece of land in the Po valley bordered by the A1 and transformed by architecture into a garrison of excellence at the service of the health industry.
The new headquarters of Gruppo Chiesi, multinational drug company with special attention to respiratory health and the treatment of rare diseases, it is a valuable ecosystem designed for sharing, full of green spaces, flexible and certified, the first in Italy and the 35th in Europe to have obtained the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum Attestation.
All characteristics that the complex, designed by the EFA studio in 2020, already had before the pandemic and of which the path that was leading Chiesi to become a B-Corp had been a powerful accelerator.
“Our Group was born and raised with special attention to its own community and with the same ethics of a social entity” explains the chief commercial officer Alessandro Chiesi.
“Becoming a B-Corp has further enhanced some aspects of our history and has allowed us to look to the future in an even more strategic way. It was like seeing our film in a new light”.
What does it mean to become a B-Corp, in terms of development?
“First of all, it means acquiring enormous awareness.
To become one, one must undergo fifteen different lines of evaluation: it is a sort of gigantic 'you are here' which leads towards a new strategic plan, which obviously incorporates the traditional one.
It is a journey that requires time.
We started with the first evaluation between 2017 and 2018, the first pharmaceutical group to do so, and we obtained recognition with 87 points: the minimum required is 80 on a scale that reaches 200 today we are at 103 and we are ready for the triennial verification.
At the same time, we have decided to formalize this status at a legal level: in Italy and in the USA, where the law allows the definition of a benefit company, we have introduced the wording directly into the statute, passing from a joint-stock company to a benefit joint-stock company”.
Read also: How benefit corporations and B-Corps transform design (and vice versa)
Being a B-Corp means working only with other B-Corps or benefit companies?
“Right from the beginning, we started asking our suppliers to equip themselves with precise standards that approached ours, clearly giving them time for them to start and complete a complex and articulated process.
Today some certifications are for us a decisive parameter in choosing the companies to collaborate with.
In 2020 we are given a document, the code of interdependence, which is part of the very essence of being a B-Corp, and which applies above all to strategic partners.
Companies are the most effective and powerful engine of change: the goal is that as many companies as possible become benefit companies or B-Corp".
Is it possible to ask the State for recognition on the procurement market or at least tax relief for those who are virtuous?
“Any measure that goes in the direction of favoring those who have made an effort to complete a process of attention to the territory, the community and the environment would be positive.
This attention means creating the legal conditions and the right framework for it to be more correct to invest in 'healthy' directions. We are not asking for public funding, but rather forms of rewards and support.
The first customer of a company like ours, which works for health, is the State, and a State that helps B Corp helps itself.
In France, this perception is gradually becoming a reality: sustainability aspects account for only 5 percent in tenders for the purchase of hospital materials, but the government is working to increase their weightt".
The recognition of B-Corp comes from private bodies. What if one day the State were to certify?
“Undoubtedly we need rules that go beyond the provision of certification by B-Lab, and, among these, also European standards.
In truth, the EU is already ahead in this sense and is working in the right direction. But even more important is having a clear code and terminology, which do not lend themselves to misunderstandings, starting from what exactly we mean by being carbon neutral.
It cannot be accepted that the answer changes from country to country.
We at Chiesi have decided to draw inspiration from international standards, which is why we are not talking about carbon neutrality but about Net Zero, which means going much further thoroughly: that is, not to compensate, but to reduce our impact by 90 percent”.
Is it good news that a multinational like Nespresso has become a B-Corp and that others will soon?
“We are living in such a serious environmental emergency that we can think of tackling it only by working all together.
It would be wrong to think of cutting multinationals out, also because it would mean leaving them to do the greenwashing on their own.
Of course, it takes great attention in giving recognition, but after all, the older you are, the more difficult it is to obtain it. Enlarging the club can only be positive."
How do you communicate to the general public that you are a B-Corp?
“Our own headquarters is a powerful communication tool.
For example, its outdoor green spaces are part of the Kilometro Verde Parma project, an initiative that creates a green corridor along one of the busiest motorway sections in the world.
With the Action over words project, which is also a website, we tell our commitment to Net Zero that anyone can evaluate and verify. Because transparency is the first tool to improve the world”.