What does it mean to be a B Corp?

What does it mean to be a B Corp?

The global B Corp movement was established in 2006. It aims to improve how the global economy works in order to make the world a safer and more equitable place. This ambitious vision resonates strongly with many in today’s uncertain world.

The official B Corp Declaration puts it this way…

We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good. This economy is comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation – which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.”

This is the background to the emergence of Certified B Corporations (known as B Corps) over the past decade and a half. And in March 2022, there was reason to celebrate as the number of B Corps passed the 5,000 mark for the first time, spanning over 150 industries in over 80 countries. Many B Corps are SMEs, but household names include The Body Shop, Tony’s Chocoloney and Innocent drinks in the UK and Cully in Sully in Ireland. The UK is currently seeing the fastest rate of growth, with almost 800 certified businesses. Ireland has 8, so presents a real opportunity for sustainability-conscious businesses.

How does B Corp certification work?

Companies can pursue B Corp certification by completing the Business Impact Assessment (BIA), which is a comprehensive questionnaire administered by the not-for-profit organisation B Lab. The questionnaire is freely available and free to use, and c.150,000 organisations have used it to date. Some of these find it helpful as an internal management tool for sustainability performance, others are keen to achieve official recognition through certification. Questions ask for detail and evidence of a business performance and impact across a number of themes related to people, planet, profit and governance. Typically, a business can expect to answer and evidence around 220 questions and the process can be quite demanding on employee time. Businesses are required to score a minimum number of points (80) before they are invited to submit their assessment for certification. It then goes through a process of independent evaluation and verification managed by B Lab, which can take up to 12 months because of high demand. All businesses seeking to become B Corps must also make a legal change to their governing documents, formally recognising that they consider people, planet and profit as measures of business success (not just profit). If successful in the certification process, a business is required to pay an annual accreditation fee, disclose their impact annually, and recertify every 3 years.

What is the benefit of being a B Corp?

  • B Corp Certification is credited with being the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance across operations and products/services.
  • The independent validation provided by B Lab, and the global applicability also add to its credibility.
  • For businesses who work with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) there is also a handy UN SDG Action Manager tool that can be easily used in conjunction with the BIA.
  • But perhaps the most significant benefits B Corps report are those to the business in terms of employee retention and motivation and recruitment of new talent.
  • In an environment when tenders for work are increasingly seeking evidence of sustainability performance, B Corp accreditation is also a simple way in which to demonstrate this to prospective partners.

How Change by Degrees can help

We’re a team of dedicated experts who provide organisations with the inspiration, skills and tools they need to be thriving, purpose driven and sustainable. We are ready to help you conduct a B Impact Assessment and apply for B Corp Certification. Contact us today.

Laura, Sustainability Consultant with Change by Degrees, became a B Leader in 2021, having completed the B Lab B Leader training programme. She now works alongside businesses to advise and support on all matters relating to the B Corp certification process. She will be running a B Corp Academy programme for businesses based in Warwickshire (UK) who are interested in becoming B Corps from September 2022, to help advance positive change in this part of the UK.

Read Laura’s B leader biography here.

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Madeleine Murray

Madeleine Murray

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