Let’s talk about B Corp Certification. This blog will cover what B Corp Certification is, how to get certified, and the benefits of certification.

If you’re interested in corporate sustainability certifications, I urge you to look at B Corp certification. B Corp certification guides you and tells you precisely what to do to accomplish sustainability at your company through its “people, profit, plant” model. To get certified, a company must complete the impact assessment and then get scored and verified by B Lab, the creator of the B Corporation.

What Is a B Corporation?

B Corps are companies that are legally required to balance and report on their impact on people, planet and profit. B Lab is the non-profit that certifies and scores B Corps. They have certified over 3,200 companies to date. o adhere to B Corp standards for people, profit and planet and become certified; companies must complete and score at least 80 points on the B Impact Assessment and then undergo legal changes. Legally, your company is required to commit to people, planet and profit equally in its operations.

According to B Lab, “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”

B Corporations, or B Corps, are increasingly visible. Look at Patagonia or Seventh Generation, both certified B Corps. After B Corp Certification, share the status with stakeholders and participate in B Corp meetings, networking and marketing efforts. All B Corps are listed, alongside their certification scores, on the B Lab website.

Who Should Become B Corp Certified?

Becoming a B Corp puts you into an exclusive club that includes companies like Warby Parker, Eileen Fisher, Plum Organics and Etsy. If you’re looking at your list of companies that you admire, and any of them are B Corps, that’s an excellent incentive to do some research and ask if certification is the correct path for your business.

When you look at your own company’s goals for 1, 5 and 10 years, where do you want to be? Do you want to be seen as a sustainable-minded company? Consider becoming a certified B Corp if this resonates with your goals and long-term company plans.

As your company grows, consider who will be buying and working for you. In many cases, it’s millennials and Gen Z. Ten-year goals should also consider demographics and ages that will make up your customer and employee bases.

If you’re unsure, there are numerous surveys and statistics on millennials, their work lives, and their future work lives. Millennials surveyed have voiced their opinions on the state of business and the right of business to be involved in social and environmental issues. According to Deloitte, millennials and Gen Z put climate and environment as their “top concern.” Many would not hesitate to pull money from businesses that don’t align with their values. A company with B Corp certification has a literal seal of approval for a values-driven millennial that cares about people, planet and profit.

How to Complete the B Corp Impact Assessment

Legal certification? Scores and assessment? Yes, it can seem like a significant hurdle. But if you are interested in determining the best way for your company to help the planet and your employees, it’s worth considering the certification.

Fill out the Impact Assessment

The first step is to complete the B Corp Assessment. The Impact Assessment will ask you questions on five areas in your business:

  • Governance
  • Customers
  • Community
  • Environment
  • Workers

You will fill out a series of questions that correlate to a score within the assessment. The assessment is robust and you might find yourself filling it out, saying, “I’m not sure.” Or notating questions to review. That’s totally normal.

Do not expect to complete the assessment on the first try and you will be successful. I recommend that first time companies allocate an hour per “section” and then break up sections into separate days to fill out.

Hit 80 Points on the Assessment

80 Points is the minimum to submit to B Lab. As you’re filling out the areas and compiling data and information, keep in mind that B Lab requires 80 points on the assessment for them to review your application. Once you’ve hit 80 points, you can submit your assessment to B Lab for their review.

B Lab Reviews and Provides Feedback

Not surprisingly, B Lab has a robust review process. Once you’ve submitted your application, they will review and then set up a time to go over details of your business and make sure you’re information is complete and correct. This review process can take weeks to months, depending on a variety of factors. The popularity of B Corp means that there’s usually a waiting list for certification.

Legal requirements vary by state. The legal obligation ensures that your operations and all employees are adhering to the Triple Bottom Line promise. In effect, you must sign documents and certify that you will uphold the values of B Corp. B Lab lays out the legal requirements here. There’s also a fee to get certified, and you must reapply for certification every two years.

Keep This in Mind With B Corp Certification

In the case of B Corp, putting in a lot of effort comes with a significant payoff. You get the seal, the approval and can count yourself among companies like Patagonia! Making a company more sustainable is hard, B Corp certification or not. It requires effort and involvement from every employee and executive. It can take money and time and consistent motivation. If sustainability appears challenging, a guided assessment with an end goal can often make it more it manageable.

The assessment is free to take and it can help you get an idea of what sustainability actions you should be focusing on or where you can improve. There’s a fee to get certified, but thousands of companies use the impact assessment to gauge their sustainability success and progress.

What Are The Benefits of B Corp Certification?

By asking yourself questions during the assessment like “Do we have a waste plan?” “How do we engage with suppliers?” companies are forced to look at operations and improve to achieve the certification.

B corporations are an excellent incentive to follow a sustainability plan and a guaranteed way to track progress for a program. Consider B Corp certification to keep yourself accountable and to have an easy-to-follow system toward better environmental, people and profit practices. If you’re considering making more environmental changes and aren’t sure how to hold yourself accountable, research B Corp certification.

Have you heard about B Corp Certification? Is it something you’d ever consider? Share in the comments below!

This blog was originally published on January 14, 2020.