B Corp (B Corporation) certifications have grown significantly in the last few years with both large enterprises and SMEs joining what we like to call the ‘B Corp family’, a network of purpose driven businesses working together toward a unifying goal – to Make Business a Force For Good.
Although increasing in popularity around the world, B Corp’s are still a bit of a mystery for some.
In this simple explainer we dive into, what is a B Corp, what does B Corp certification mean, how to get B Corp certified, a brief look at the B Impact Assessment (BIA), and how the standards are evolving toward a new and updated model for 2024.
What is a B Corp and B Corp Certification?
B Corps (or certified B Corporation’s) meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. To become a B Corporation, a company must meet certain performance requirements and complete a rigorous assessment process to understand and improve their social and environmental performance.
B Corps are similar to traditional corporations in that they can raise capital and make a profit, but they are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on all stakeholders, not just shareholders, turning the table on the traditional profit over people and planet model.
They are also required to publicly report on their social and environmental performance using a standardised framework known as the B Impact Assessment (BIA). The certification process helps establish transparency, accountability and a legal framework to balance profit and social/environmental goals.
B Corps are certified by a non-profit organisation called B Lab, which assesses companies based on their performance in areas such as governance, worker rights, environmental impact, customer impact and community engagement. B Lab’s vision is for an inclusive, equitable and regenerative world.
Companies must also accept the legal requirement and clause to amend their company constitution to require their board of directors to consider the impact of their decisions on all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
Once certified, companies must recertify every three years to maintain their status as a B Corporation. Learn how we improved our B Impact Score.
Certified B Corps are committed to understanding and addressing the impacts their business has on all of their stakeholders including employees, customers and suppliers – and beyond that, the communities they operate in and the wider environment.
Today, there is a growing community of more than 5,600 Certified B Corps in 77 countries. B Corp certification is also aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in partnership with the United Nations Global Compact, B Lab have developed a tool – the SDG Action Manager – to measure progress towards the SDGs.
How to become a certified B Corp
To become a certified B Corp, a business must undergo the rigorous B Impact Assessment (BIA) “The most credible tool a company can use to measure its impact on its workers, community, environment, and customers.”
This assessment takes three distinct steps: assessing, comparing, and improving performance.
To begin, a business’s impact on governance, workers, community, environment and customers is assessed. Through this assessment, a B Impact score is produced and then compared to other businesses in their relevant industry/market sector and size. Areas of improvement are flagged which produces an Improvement Report. This report comprises of a list of resources including best practice guides, to help a business customise its own improvement roadmap.
The BIA is designed to be completed online, and companies are scored on a scale of 0 to 200 based on their answers. A company must achieve a score of at least 80 points to become B Corp Certified. This may not sound like a high number, but in our experience, the average score a company gets on their first go (depending on the size and nature of their business of course) is around 40-50 points.
Why become a B Corp?
Becoming a B Corp sets your business apart to not only make a demonstrably positive impact on society and the planet, but also gives you the credentials to talk about it credibly and to set yourself ahead of the market in a world shifting towards better and more sustainable business.
1. Long-term profitability for good
2. Continuous improvement
3. It’s authentic PR (public relations) for your business
4. Improves your workplace culture
5. Respects people and planet
Learn about these in more detail in 5 Reasons to Become a B Corp
Note – B Corp standards are evolving
B Corp are currently undertaking a consultation period and drafting new standards. This is the biggest evolution of the standards since they were developed in 2015.
B Corp’s standards are updated periodically to ensure that they reflect the latest thinking and best practices in the field of impact assessment and management. Updating the standards also allows B Lab to incorporate feedback from certified B Corps and other stakeholders, and to respond to changes in laws, regulations and societal expectations.
The new standards are designed to be more rigorous and comprehensive, making it more difficult for companies to achieve certification but also raising the bar for companies that are already certified. The updates to the standards also help to ensure that certified B Corps continue to meet the high standards of social and environmental performance that are expected of them.
Additionally, the updates are also meant to align with the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) and other international standards, which would make it easier for companies to understand and integrate their impact on a global scale.
Overall, the updates to the B Corp standards are intended to help B Corps continue to be leaders in the field of impact assessment and management, and to ensure that the B Corp certification remains a meaningful and credible indicator of a company’s commitment to creating value for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
Need help with your B Corp certification?
If you think your business is ready to take the next steps to become a B Corp, are looking for advice on becoming a B Corp, or seeking some help on your B Impact Assessment, the B Corp community have an amazing range of resources available. B lab also run regular online and in person Become a B Corp Workshops.
If things get a little too technical, we also have two certified B Consultants Hannah Meade and Matias Sellanes, who specialise in all things B Corp and help guide businesses through the B Impact Assessment or help them understand and improve their B Impact scores to achieve B Corp certification.
Or if you’d just like to learn more about the process, reach out to us for a chat, we’re a certified B Corp and proud and we’d love you to join the movement and to help you on your B Corp journey email or Call +61 3 7035 1740