By earning B Corp certification, your business will join an elite group that have taken a stand to improve the status quo. In short, it means your business promotes workers’ rights, the environment, and higher standards of transparency. But even still, some business owners might ask if it’s worth the effort of detailing their entire operation to a third party to judge and score. In this post, I am going to lay out six reasons why obtaining a B Corp certification for your business, while perhaps not easy, is certainly worth it.
Attract attention from both media and talent
Becoming a Certified B Corp is something to brag about! It can take a significant amount of time and resources to become a B Corp and to maintain that status over the years. Once you receive notification of approval, you have one more reason to promote how amazing your business is for the world! You can (and should!) share the news far and wide, boosting your own exposure and creating more good news for peers, colleagues, and new outlets to share (sometimes it can feel like there’s not nearly enough of that)! The more attention you attract, the more good you can share. As Marianne Williamson said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” B Corp certification empowers companies to realize that fear and manifest a stronger business and a stronger world through thoughtful actions. Ms. Williamson goes on to say that “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
Additionally, many job seekers today are millennials who want jobs that have missions greater than just themselves, or making money. Your B Corp certification can corroborate that your mission is something to believe in and be proud of, giving talented job seekers more reasons to come work for you. Additionally, a section of B Corp evaluations cover employees and making sure they are treated fairly — a great selling point for new talent! The B Corp website even has a job board, making your available positions easier to be found by the right candidate. Through their influence, input, and impact, your workers will feel inspired to create even more change, further solidifying that your your company is a catalyst for good.
Internal reflection of purpose vs. actual practice
If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re in this specific business. What was the original benefit you anticipated, or problem you wanted to solve? Are you living that out, or has the weight and cost of starting a business pushed you off track? If you truly are invested in creating a business that makes the world a better place or improves the lives of people around you, it’s important to take a hard look at whether or not you’re accomplishing these goals. It’s trendy to be “sustainable” “green” and “responsible” these days, but what do those words actually mean? It’s always important to reassess and ask yourself, are you just preaching, or actually following through with practice, constant improvement, and internal reflection?
Going for a B Corp certification to take the time to answer those questions. Moreover, with only 120 industries represented in the B Corp community, this gives you a chance to be a change-maker and a standard-setter. Obtaining a B Corp certification ensures that your business is on track to outwardly reflect your internal intentions. Through close evaluation and a subsequent score, the certification process dissects your business and helps you compare your actual practices with those original environmental and societal business goals. You may be thinking that, ultimately, the main purpose of your business is to make money and lots off it. Fortunately for you, you can continue to do that while also making the world a better place — in fact, it may even be a financial benefit by attracting more customers, investors, and saving money.
“I think B Corporations will make more profits than other types of companies.”—Robert Shiller, 2013 Nobel laureate in Economics
Stand out among competition
Every business has a bottom line. They all have payroll, goals, and fast approaching deadlines. But are you investing in the people and places around you? B Corp companies are proven to be doing just that. With around 2,000 companies certified currently, you are sure to stand out among the competition by showing that you care about more than just profits. More and more consumers are demanding environmentally and socially just practices from businesses. When you create a business that takes its sustainability seriously, you not only stand out among the competition, you encourage them to be better in order to keep up. Then companies aren’t just competing for clients, they are competing for [positive] impact. If you want to survive in an industry that’s constantly improving their practices then you too need to improve your practices. Travis Bays from Bodhi Surf + Yoga, the first surf and yoga camp to earn B Corp certification, calls this “spiraling into control,” because now they have a strong reason to “make a call to the industry and encourage others to start their own B Corp journeys”. He explains that “when our competitors becomes stronger, we do too”. Soon, hopefully prospective patrons of the surf and yoga industry will come to expect more and more of it because of Bodhi’s focus on raising the industry standards. B Lab also gives businesses exactly what customers need to validate their sustainable practices: proof.
Have a third party validate your corporate responsibility
“B Corp provides what is lacking elsewhere: proof” the New York Times
It’s one thing to say you’re company is sustainable or acting responsibly, it’s another to prove it. In a world where “fake news” is becoming more and more circulated, consumers are on the prowl to separate fact from fiction. With B Lab validating your practices, you don’t have to worry about making false claims about your corporate responsibility policies. Who is B Lab, you might ask? According to their website, they are “a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good”. More specifically, they are the governing body that assesses and certifies for-profit organizations to be B Corp certified. They do this through a B Impact Assessment, which has three steps:
- A questionnaire that teaches you what it takes to be a better business for your workers, the community and the environment.
- A tool to compare your answers to other businesses to gauge your current status, after which (if you meet performance, legal requirements, and have a score of at least 80 out of 200), you can make it official and sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence!
- Room to find ways to improve! After receiving your certification, you can create a custom improvement plan unique to your business using the many resources B Lab provides.
Does this process sound daunting? It’s not! While large multinational companies might take three to six months to receive certification, smaller companies can complete it in less than a month after the review call with their analyst. Throughout the process you’ll be paired with a standards analyst who will work with you through the process. They come from a variety of backgrounds but are all trained by B Lab on how to apply standards to a variety of companies.
Push your business to be the best it can be
We create the best versions of ourselves by pushing our minds and bodies. We hire trainers to workout our muscles and make us stronger. We read, seek solace in nature, meditate, and go to places of worship to relax and rejuvenate our minds and spirits. B Lab is like a trainer or an encyclopedia for your business. They will push you to honestly evaluate your past business functions and provide the necessary stressors for growth. For example, B Corps can take part of specialized programing such as Inclusion Challenge that helps them improve their score between re-certifications, which happens every two years.
Additionally, between the certification periods, 10% of B Corps are randomly selected for a virtual or on-site audit with certification-related criteria. This keeps B Corps in the mindset of constant improvement, no matter what year it is. While the first time you get certified is the most intensive round, re-certifying is just as important to ensure B Corps maintain the higher standards even through growth and change. As you dissect your business, they also give you the resources to rebuild and improve your infrastructure the way you intended it to be — good for the world!
Continuous help on improvement
B Lab comes into the certification process with more than just evaluations and critiques — they come in with resources to help. Self-evaluation and constructive criticism are the first step, but they certainly are not the last. B Lab provides a community of businesses dedicated to helping the world and helping one another. One way they do this is through the B Hive which is an online community of B Corp companies working together to improve individual challenges with similar metrics. They also have a variety of resources available for continuous improvement including informative white pages, manuals, peer exchanges, and case studies to review how companies of various sizes achieve certification. If you join this community of caretakers, you can be sure they will motivate and help you to improve, one change at a time.
So why become a B Corp?
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not easy earning a B Corp certification. It requires both resources and time to evaluate your business to the necessary extent. It’s important to remember, however, that the benefits of this certification far outweigh the costs. Some companies, such as Bodhi, build their business from the ground up with corporate responsibility in mind, therefore making B Corp certification a natural step in future business development. Owner Travis Bays said that they have “been working toward being a force for good since the beginning,” which likely made it easier to become a B Corp company. For other businesses, B Corp certification can mean a full systemic overhaul. Regardless of how you get there, the benefits of the certification are plentiful. You’ll have greater access to a talented applicant pool, you get more exposure for your business, your competition will be inspired to do good as well, and you join a helpful, like-minded community. You’d be surprised at how many of your favorite brands and businesses are already B Corp certified. So are you bold enough to join them?
Written by Katie Jones