November 05, 2021

Article

Certified B Corps are a new kind of business that balance purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. A B Corp is a business that gives as much consideration to their social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns.

B Corporation certification (assessed by the not-for-profit B Lab) is given to for-profit organisations that achieve at least a minimum score against a set of social and environmental standards. B Corp certification doesn’t change the underlying set up or structure of a business, it will still be for profit business, paying taxes, with shareholders. The idea behind B Corp is to make sure the business is considering it’s impact on the wider community.

B Corps have been around in the US since 2007, with brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia achieving certification.

In 2015 the initiative launched in the UK and there are now over 400 B Corporations, including household names: Propercorn, JoJo Maman Bebe, Innocent drinks and Abel & Cole.

Why should you consider it?

A commitment to the environment and society is increasingly on everyone’s agenda. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is now a key element in company statements. For some, B Corp status could be seen as suppressing agility and restricting the ability to focus on profit. But for others it is an opportunity to achieve competitive advantage, as well as benefiting the wider world.

Becoming a B Corp can have obvious benefits; like a positive impact on brand equity and greater recruitment appeal, but there are also some less obvious ones. It can drive performance – in a survey UK B Corps reported an average growth rate significantly higher than the national average. It can improve the saleability of an organisation too.

What do I need to do to get certification?

B Corporation status can be achieved by receiving accreditation from B Lab (a non-profit organisation). Certification requires a score of at least 80 (out of 200) against 5 areas of impact: Governance, Community, Workers, Environment and Customers.

The initial step is to complete an on-line assessment (B Impact Assessment). After completing this assessment, B Lab then assesses and verifies that your score meets the certification standards. As part of this process, you meet virtually with the B Lab team to submit any confidential documentation and to sense check your responses.

Certification needs to be renewed every three years and there is an annual fee, which scales with revenue and starts at £1,000.

Whilst I appreciate this won’t be for everyone there is a big movement in society towards ESG and for many businesses, this could create a competitive advantage. Even if you don’t want to become fully certified, undertaking an impact assessment is free and could highlight key area’s for improvement within your business, that are simple to implement and may have a positive impact on the environment, your workers, customers, community and who knows, even the all important bottom line!

More details can be found about B-Corp assessments and certification at Certified B Corporation.

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