What is a B Corp and How Do Companies Get Certified?
Brands like Patagonia, The Body Shop, and Allbirds share a distinctive trait — they proudly display the B Corp Certified Logo, signifying a commitment beyond mere profitability. For these brands, success is measured not only in financial gains but also in their positive impact on society and the environment.
Earning a B Corp certification involves a rigorous evaluation process scrutinizing how companies contribute value to non-shareholding stakeholders, including employees, local communities, and the planet.
As of January 2024, there are around 7,800 B Corp Certified brands across the world.
The B Corp Certification
In 2006, three friends in the U.S. launched the B Corp movement with a shared vision of utilizing business as a force for good. Their mission was to identify and support companies effectively balancing profit and purpose. But they were determined to base their efforts on concrete evidence rather than mere hearsay.
To establish a robust process, they founded a non-profit called B Labs, which actively assesses and certifies businesses meeting the highest social and environmental performance standards, public transparency, and legal accountability.
B Labs operates at regional and country levels, actively assessing and scoring businesses in five domains: community, customers, environment, governance, and workers.
Criteria for becoming B Corp certified
Obtaining a B Corp certificate can be a challenging endeavor. Companies often need years of effort and collaboration from various departments, and sometimes even external consultants, to gather all the required information for their application, also known as the B Impact Assessment.
The B Impact Assessment consists of a wide range of questions that cover various aspects of the business. These questions are categorized into five categories: governance, workers, community, the environment, and customers. Here are some examples of these questions:
- Governance: What portion of your management is evaluated in writing on their performance with regard to corporate, social, and environmental targets?
- Workers: What % of the company is owned by full-time workers (excluding founders/executives)?
- Community: What % of management is from underrepresented populations? (This includes women, minority/previously excluded populations, people with disabilities, and/or people living in low-income communities.)
- Environment: Does your company monitor and record its universal waste production?
- Customers: How do you verify that your product improves the impact of your client organizations?
Companies receive a baseline score at the end of the B Impact assessment. If the score is below 80, B Corp requests that companies reassess and prioritize areas for improvement.
For companies that surpass the baseline score of 80, the next steps involve evaluation and verification. Companies must substantiate their answers with evidence and provide proof of verified processes and actions.
But it doesn't end there! Every three years, there's a recertification process designed to encourage companies to remain within the ecosystem and improve their scores over time. By supporting these brands, we can play our part in mitigating the climate crisis.