Are you wondering what’s required to become B Corp?
In recent years, a revolutionary movement has been reshaping the business landscape – the rise of B Corps. With their mission to balance profit with purpose, B Corps have gained recognition as a force for positive change. In this blog, we explore the B Corp certification requirements and the B Corp certification process.
What is a B Corp?
A B Corp, short for Benefit Corporation, is a business that operates with a dual purpose. Generating a profit and making a positive impact on society and the environment. The B Corp logo showcases the company’s B Corp status and dedication to using business as a force for good. B Corps operate globally, with a presence in over 70 countries. As of now, there are more than 4,000 certified B Corps worldwide, and their numbers continue to grow steadily.
Becoming a Responsible Business
The process of becoming a B Corp requires a genuine commitment to social and environmental responsibility. It involves substantial changes to the company’s practices and values.
Patagonia is a well-known B Corp that prioritises environmental sustainability, ethical sourcing, and fair labour practices. In contrast, Coca-Cola is a C Corp that focuses on maximising shareholder value and profitability. It has no specific requirements related to social or environmental impact.
Let’s say a C Corp like Coca-Cola wanted to become a B Corp like Patagonia. It would need to undergo a process of transformation and meet specific requirements.
The B Corp Certification Requirements
To achieve B Corp certification, a company must meet a comprehensive set of B Corp requirements. These assess its overall social and environmental performance. This ensures that B Corps meet high standards of social and environmental responsibility. That they hold themselves accountable for their impact on society and the planet. By meeting these requirements, companies can demonstrate their commitment to creating a more sustainable and equitable future. Here are some of the key B Corp certification requirements:
- Legal Structure:
The company must have a legal structure that enables it to consider the impact of its decisions on various stakeholders. This includes employees, communities, and the environment.
- Performance Assessment:
The company must complete the B Impact Assessment (BIA). This is a rigorous evaluation of its impact in areas such as governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. The assessment measures the company’s practices and policies against specific benchmarks.
- Minimum Score:
The company must achieve a minimum verified score on the BIA. This is to demonstrate its commitment to meeting the performance standards set by B Corp requirements.
The company must be transparent by providing information about its social and environmental practices, policies, and performance to the public. This includes disclosing relevant information regarding its operations, supply chain, and impact on stakeholders.
- Legal Accountability:
The company must adopt legal measures that consider the interests of stakeholders and shareholders. This requires directors and officers to balance the interests of stakeholders with the financial interests of shareholders.
- Continuous Improvement:
B Corp certification is not a one-time accomplishment. The company must commit to ongoing improvement by setting goals and tracking performance. Thereby implementing practices that contribute to positive social and environmental impact.
The B Corp Certification Process
The B Corp certification process involves several steps that businesses need to follow. Here are the general steps in the B Corp certification process:
- Assessment: The first step is for a business to complete the B Impact Assessment (BIA), which evaluates the company’s performance in various areas such as governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. This assessment helps measure the company’s social and environmental impact.
- Verification: Once the assessment is completed, the company submits its BIA for verification. This involves providing supporting documentation and evidence to validate the responses provided in the assessment.
- Review: B Lab, the nonprofit organisation that administers B Corp certification, reviews the assessment and supporting documentation to ensure accuracy and adherence to the certification requirements.
- Improvement: If any areas of the company’s performance need improvement to meet the certification standards, the company receives feedback and recommendations for enhancement.
- Legal Requirement: Depending on the company’s jurisdiction, it may need to amend its legal governing documents to include commitments to consider stakeholders and balance their interests with shareholder interests.
- Certification: Once the company fulfils the B Corp requirements by completing the assessment, verification, and any necessary improvements, it can receive B Corp certification. This certification demonstrates the company’s commitment to meeting high social and environmental standards.
Businesses can apply for B Corp certification by visiting the official B Corp website and following the application process outlined on the site. The application typically involves creating an account, completing the assessment, and submitting the necessary documentation for verification.
It’s important to note that the certification process may vary slightly depending on the country or region where the business operates, as there are localised B Corp organisations that handle the certification process. Nonetheless, the overall steps mentioned above provide a general framework for businesses seeking B Corp certification.
The B Corp Declaration of Interdependence
The B Corp Declaration of Interdependence is a foundational document that outlines the principles and values that B Corps commit to uphold. It serves as a guiding framework for B Corps to operate in a manner that balances profit-making with social and environmental considerations.
The declaration emphasises the interconnectedness of businesses and the importance of using their influence to create a more sustainable and equitable world. The B Corp Declaration of Interdependence underscores the commitment of B Corps to go beyond profit maximisation and prioritise social and environmental considerations as integral parts of their business models. By adopting this declaration, B Corps aim to redefine success in business and drive positive change in the corporate sector. Here is an overview of the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence:
- Purpose: The declaration emphasises that B Corps are dedicated to using business as a force for good and creating a positive impact on society and the environment.
- Stakeholder Orientation: B Corps recognize the importance of considering the interests of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and the environment, in their decision-making processes.
- Commitment to High Standards: B Corps commit to meeting rigorous social and environmental performance standards, and they aspire to create beneficial and sustainable outcomes through their business practices.
- Transparency: B Corps believe in being transparent about their social and environmental performance. They commit to making their impact assessments and certification status publicly available for accountability and credibility.
- Collaboration: B Corps promote collaboration and cooperation among businesses to address shared social and environmental challenges. They aim to build a global network of like-minded companies striving for a common purpose.
- Continuous Improvement: B Corps understand that there is always room for improvement and commit to continually assessing and improving their impact on society and the environment.
Examples of B Corp Businesses
There are numerous examples of B Corp businesses across various industries that have demonstrated their commitment to meeting high social and environmental standards. Here are a few notable examples:
- Patagonia: Patagonia is a renowned outdoor apparel company that is widely recognized for its sustainable practices, commitment to environmental preservation, and support for fair labour practices.
- Ben & Jerry’s: Ben & Jerry’s is a well-known ice cream brand that has integrated social and environmental responsibility into its business model. They prioritise sourcing fair trade ingredients, reducing their carbon footprint, and advocating for social causes.
- Seventh Generation: Seventh Generation is a company that specialises in producing environmentally friendly household and personal care products. They focus on using sustainable materials, minimising waste, and promoting transparency in their supply chain.
- Eileen Fisher: Eileen Fisher is a fashion brand that emphasises ethical and sustainable practices. They prioritise fair labour conditions, use organic and recycled materials, and embrace circular economy principles.
- Etsy: Etsy is an online marketplace that connects independent artisans and sellers with customers. As a B Corp, Etsy promotes responsible sourcing, supports small businesses, and fosters a sense of community and empowerment.
- New Belgium Brewing: New Belgium Brewing is a craft beer company known for its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. They implement renewable energy solutions, practice waste reduction, and actively engage with their local community.
These are just a few examples of B Corp businesses that have demonstrated their dedication to balancing profit with purpose. They have integrated social and environmental values into their operations, paving the way for a more sustainable and responsible business landscape.
A Final Word on B Corps
B Corps represent a powerful movement that seeks to redefine the purpose of business. By considering the impact on all stakeholders and meeting rigorous standards, these businesses demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical practices. Through the B Corp certification process, companies can showcase their dedication to creating a better world. As more organisations embrace this model, we move closer to a future where business becomes a driving force for positive change.
What’s your favourite B Corp? Let us know in the comments below.