Learning and Teaching Sustainability

How to become a B Corp

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If you are wondering if your organization can or should become a Certified B Corporation, the answer is yes, so keep reading.

If you are wondering what a B Corp is, keep reading. This article should help clarify what B Corps are and why you should buy B Corp goods and services.

B Corp is short for Certified B Corporation. B Corps are for profit companies that have met the minimum standards set by B Labs, a nonprofit organization that created the Certified B Corporation designation. A company must take the B Labs Impact Assessment and score a minimum of 80 out of 200 to meet B Labs minimum standards before becoming a Certified B Corp. The Impact Assessment is step one of a only a few to becoming a B Corp.

A company interested in being a B Corp should go here for more details.

The process for becoming a B Corp is, in short:

  1. Take the B Labs Impact Assessment to determine how your company impacts environment, workers, community, and customers.
  2. Review your results. B Labs requires an 80 out of a possible 200 points to meet B Corp certification minimum.
  3. Develop a plan to improve your impact.
  4. Finally, finish and get certified by meeting the minimum requirements for accountability and transparency.

For detailed information on becoming a B Corps read this guide put together by Yale Center for Business and the Environment and Patagonia, Inc. They have done a wonderful job detailing everything you need to determine if a B Corp certification is right for your company.

Before writing this, I was confused about the difference between a Benefit Corporations and a B Corp. Truthfully, I thought that one could replace the other. That is not the case. In fact, they should be paired together. Benefit Corporation status is really just a legal move to protect the company. The one that matters is B Corp. A Certified B Corp is a vetted company that has gone through a rigorous assessment to be certain that they have a positive social and environmental impact.

The barriers to entry for Benefit Corporations are unclear and seem to be less stringent than the barriers for B Corp certification. The law varies from state to state, but in general a company has to only provide a “general public good” to qualify as a Benefit Corporation. See this link for information on state by state legislation regarding Benefit Corporation status.

Its not enough to simply say that a company has met a requirement of providing public good without establishing any quantifiable proof. That is why B Labs has established a quantifiable method for gauging where a company stands in terms of its environmental and social impact. This way a company, as the B Corps website puts it, can “Measure What Matters”.

About the author: Adam Cunningham
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