B the Change
Certified B Corporations™ redefine success in business.
Individually, B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.
Collectively, B Corps lead a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good™. Through the power of their collective voice, one day all companies will compete to be best for the world™, and society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity for all.
Under the auspices of the non-profit B Lab, companies can become certified as B Corporations or B Corps. Why not just put your PR department to work and spread the word about your social conscience? Why become certified? Because at the end of the day a B Corp can prove their social conscience through that certification. Think Fair Trade, LEED certified buildings, USDA organic. B Corps really mean it, the whole company, not just the PR department.
The entire company is evaluated as part of the certification process. The company will be subject to random audits and they must formalize their social mission by reflecting it in the company’s legal bylaws. The company must be responsible to shareholders and stakeholders alike. The stakeholders, the employees and their engagement, the community and its involvement, and the environmental impact, and the fact that shareholders sit in equality is a game changer that might just put the PR department out of business.
To become B certified takes two things; time and money. The process begins with the free B impact assessment survey taken online. The survey may highlight several operating principles that need changing. If you’ve got a triple bottom line approach to your business; profit, people, and planet (one of the original philosophies of the founding B Lab people) then you’re a good candidate to investigate further. The fewer changes highlighted the closer you are.
Cost for B certification can range from 500.00 for smaller companies up to 25,000.00 for companies in the over 100k in sales distinction.
Not all companies with the triple bottom line philosophy will seek out certification. Especially the smaller companies; will they get hurt or overlooked if they aren’t certified? With more and more consumers looking for certification it could happen. We hope consumers are doing a bit more research beyond just certification but if your company had to pick a solid certification, B certified companies are a clear winner.
Remember the part about shareholders and stakeholders? Becoming a B Corp gives you a breather from the maximize profits mentality. Those bylaws that needed to be modified have to be approved by the shareholders so when profits run up against your social integrity a happy medium is fully expected. In a reverse mentality if shareholders aren’t seeing enough corporate responsibility they, too, may have some say in the matter.
Oh yes and there are some states getting involved but to what extent is variable. Some states have passed laws to create a new type of corporation called a Benefit Corporation. The overriding principles of the B Corp is within the framework of the Benefit Corporation but not all Benefit Corporations need to be B certified. If you want the benefit of hours of research on this subject Ryan Honeyman literally wrote the book on the subject, The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good.
Who’s really going to be the force in making certified B Corps a big deal? My guess is the consumer will be at the head of the pack. If your company has a triple bottom line approach then it’s worth considering taking the B impact assessment survey. At the very least it will confirm or highlight what you’re doing as it relates to your philosophy and it’s free.