Darcy Shiber-Knowles of Dr. Bronner's joins the BSuite podcast

Episode 3: Products that Unite the Human Race with Dr. Bronner’s

Looking for some much-needed inspiration? Well, we have the podcast for you! Episode 3 of the BSuite podcast features Anne’s in-depth conversation  with the ebullient Darcy Shiber-Knowles, director of operational sustainability and innovation at Dr. Bronner’s. Ranked as one of the top B Corporations in the world, Dr. Bronner’s has always been an advocate for social justice and environmental responsibility. Darcy believes that staying true to company founder Emanuel Bronner’s Moral ABCs is the secret to their successful 150-plus years of soap-making and social conscience.

The needs of the world are so huge. And so we've got to find hope and then hang onto that. And moving forward, one step at a time, [decide] what is the one next right thing that I can do from where I sit?

Key Takeaways

Darcy Shiber-Knowles’ Story

With an undaunting desire to make an impact on the world, Darcy was always drawn to environmental science. During her MBA program, she took that passion a step further and focused on mission-driven organizational development and sustainability practices. After completing her degree, she worked for a while at Organic Valley before being hired as the director of operational sustainability and innovation at Dr. Bronner’s. Her current role focuses on 4 core areas of the business: Quality, Compliance, Innovation, and Sustainability.

Sustainability, as you may guess, is where her heart lies, and that’s where we focus the majority of our conversation.

The Dr. Bronner’s Story

First we touch on the incredible backstory of Dr. Bronner’s soaps. Though Emanuel Bronner founded the company in the U.S. in 1948, the family soap making business goes back three generations to their origins in Germany. Emanuel had already emigrated to America well before WWII, yet his parents and many in his extended family were deported and tragically perished at Auschwitz and Theresienstadt concentration camps during WWII.

From that experience, Dr. Bronner had a moral reawakening and wrote the Moral ABC’s with a mission to unite the human race and regenerate the planet, “All one or none.”

The Moral ABC’s & Six Cosmic Principles

If you’ve seen Dr. Bronner’s soaps on the shelves at your local grocery store, you’ve likely noticed the unique packaging design. These are Dr. Bronner’s Moral ABC’s. 

Darcy explains how Dr. Bronner’s applies the concept of Constructive Capitalism across every aspect of the business. Their Six Cosmic Principles were developed to show their commitment to “Share the profits with the workers and the earth from which you made it!” 

Here are the Six Cosmic Principles:

  1. Work Hard and Grow
  2. Do Right by Customers
  3. Treat Employees like Family
  4. Be Fair to Suppliers
  5. Treat the Earth like Home
  6. Fund and Fight for What’s Right

A Natural Fit for B Corp Certification

Dr. Bronner’s earned their B Corp certification in 2015, and has been voted Best for the World multiple times over the years. Darcy isn’t surprised at the accolades, after all, they do their best to make an impact at every level of the organization, including giving 30% or more of their profits to support non-profits and other causes. But she’s also careful to point out that their high score shouldn’t be intimidating for other companies seeking certification. 

Darcy and Anne close out their chat by discovering they both enjoy an occasional happy hour at the end of a work day. In Darcy’s case, that may include a nice glass of skin-contact wine which you can read more about in the links below.

We hope you’ll give this episode a listen and let us know what you think!

Links/Resources Mentioned

Important Update:

Since the recording of this episode, we’ve moved away from using the language “BIA” to refer to the B Impact Assessment out of respect to the indigenous community. We will be referring to the set of qualifications developed by the B Lab for business certification as B Impact Assessment or Assessment going forward.