More and more consumers are nowadays interested in companies that are socially and environmentally responsible for their actions. People want to know that the brands they are supporting are not only interested in profit but are also taking responsibility for people and the planet. To the brands that are following the triple bottom line, there are various options on labels and certifications they can apply to and this way prove their authenticity and transparency to their consumers. One of these certifications is the B Corp certification. Companies who have obtained the B Corp certification have gone through a long process of becoming a Certified B Corp and meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance along with public transparency and legal accountability. Today, there are over 3500 Certified B Corporations all over the world, in more than 70 countries.
Have you ever wondered how the B Corp certification process works or why businesses apply to become one in the first place? In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the topic.
What is a triple bottom line brand?
According to Investopedia, in economics, the triple bottom line refers to the practice of companies committing to focus as much on social and environmental concerns as they do on profits. The triple bottom line theory suggests that there should be three bottom lines: people, planet, and profit. Triple bottom line brands are the ones who follow this theory in their business. An example of a triple bottom line brand is the American clothing company Patagonia.
What is B Corporation?
The U.S. Small Business Administration, defines a benefit corporation, B Corp, as a for-profit corporation that is driven by both, mission and profit. B Corporations must meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance and are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. These businesses have been evaluated by B Lab and received certification on how they create value for their employees, their community, and the environment. B Corp certification is currently the only certification measuring a company’s entire social and environmental performance.
Advantages of being certified B Corp
According to Certified B Corporation, the main reasons companies certify are to lead the movement, build relationships, attract talent, improve impact, amplify voice, and protect the mission. B Corp certification is an excellent way to build credibility, trust, and value for your business.
Due to the constant changes happening in our world, people are becoming more conscious of their own actions. Wanting to use services and buy products from brands that are doing good is increasing among consumers and therefore, it is highly important for companies to improve along with them. Consumers nowadays believe that being environmentally and socially responsible isn’t only an individual responsibility but also a corporate one.
As a company, obtaining the B Corp certification will help you to attract like-minded consumers and employees to your business. The community around the B Corp movement will connect you with people who share your values. Consumers looking for responsible brands to buy from may easily find your business when you have been certified as a B Corp. They will be more likely to trust your business to be truly responsible when you have an official, valued certification as proof. For future employees looking for a job, the certification will provide evidence that the company is socially and environmentally responsible for its actions.
The economic impact of conscious consumers is becoming more and more clear every day. Supporting your business with this certification does nothing but improve your impact, and increase your position in the future.
Requirements for B Corp
If you want to get your business certified B Corp, there are certain requirements you have to pass. Getting the certification is not easy, and not all businesses qualify. To start the application process, you must complete the B Impact Assessment. This is an online tool used to measure your company’s impact on the workers, customers, community, and environment. Passing the assessment requires a minimum total score of 80 in all measured areas. The assessment questions are based on the size, sector, and market of your business. In total, there are around 200 questions. The B Impact Assessment includes also the Disclosure Questionnaire that is used for a background check, and a public complaint process. The questionnaire allows the business to reveal any sensitive information from practices to fines related to the company or its partners. This Disclosure Questionnaire won’t affect the company’s overall score on the assessment. As a certified B corporation, you must also meet certain legal requirements. Some of these requirements are (copied from bcorporation.net):
- Gives legal protection to directors and officers to consider the interests of all stakeholders, not just shareholders, when making decisions;
- Creates additional rights for shareholders to hold directors and officers accountable to consider these interests;
- Limits these expanded rights to shareholders exclusively.
The aim of the B Corp legal framework is to help businesses protect the mission through capital raises and leadership changes and gives them more flexibility when evaluating potential sale and liquidity options. The last step for businesses is to go through a multi-step verification process to see if they meet the 80-point bar for the certification. There are also transparency requirements to meet to become a Certified B Corp.
Learn more about the requirements at bcorporation.net
As mentioned, becoming a B Corp is not easy and might not be suitable for all businesses. Obtaining the certification itself takes a lot of effort and your values must meet the requirements. However, having this certification does add value to your business. As consumers are becoming more interested in environmental and social responsibility, they will be requiring more and more proof from companies that they truly are as responsible as they appear. Having the B Corp certification will ensure that you are committed for ethical standards. If you think your company would be suitable for becoming a B Corp, you can read more about the application process and requirements here: bcorporation.net.
Author: Oona Yletyinen