Companies Can Become a Certified B Corporation® in order to demonstrate their commitment to Social Sustainability
As legally verified and publicly accountable businesses, a Certified B Corporation® (or B Corps as those of us in the movement like to refer to them as) must prove their sustainability record to maintain their status. B Corps can make a huge impact globally. And because they are audited by a third party and have to show continued improvements over time in order to maintain their status, they can't just make empty promises.
B Corporations, commonly referred to as just "B Corps," are businesses that have been certified by the non-profit company B Labs based on exacting standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. This certification causes B Corps to become legally bound to balance purpose and profit by considering the impact of business decisions on all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, customers, the environment, and community.
To become certified, companies must conduct a comprehensive review of their sustainability profile using a template provided by B Labs known as the "B Impact Assessment." According to B Labs, this assessment is "designed to help measure and manage [a] company's positive impact on [its] workers, community, customers and environment." Companies must also take a further step of incorporating "specific mission-aligned language" into their governing documents, such as the articles of incorporation.
Once certified, B Corps must re-certify every 3 years by updating their assessment, providing additional documentation to verify their answers, and achieving at least 80 out of 200 available assessment points. Additionally, to maintain the credibility of the B Corp seal, 10 percent of re-certifying B Corps are audited in the form of an in-depth site review.
B Corps have proliferated since the first 82 were certified in 2007 There are now over 3,500 in over 70 countries. One example of a B Corp making a positive impact is Cora, which provides eco-friendly feminine hygiene products, increases access to feminine products in developing countries, advocates for female education, and speaks against taxing these types of products as non-essential goods. Since the company’s inception, Cora has donated over a million sanitary products to women in Kenya and India. It also has donated over 100,000 feminine products to women living below the poverty line in the United States.
Evolution Marketing, a Wisconsin-based company focused on sustainability, marketing, and communications consulting, is another B Corp. In 2019, Evolution Marketing donated 2% of its sales to environmental non-profits, and another 0.5% of sales to Wisconsin-based, socially-oriented non-profits. Additionally, members of the staff donated 238 hours of time/services to Wisconsin-based non-profits and their environmental and social programming. The company also submits to additional third-party verification, such as a yearly certification by the non-profit organization 1% For the Planet.
Other B Corps range from huge household names such as Danone North America and Ben & Jerry’s to local Wisconsin product makers such as Rebel Green, Zyn, Just Coffee Cooperative, and Tribe 9 Foods, demonstrating that this business model is both achievable and scalable.
B Corps are arguably the business model of the future—one that modernizes the sustainability movement by getting private businesses to tackle important social issues.