B-Corporations, more commonly referred to as B-Corps is a certification issued to for-profit companies by B-Lab. They are looking to redefine business success as a force for good and not just for monetary gain. To qualify businesses need to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, legal accountability, and transparency. It works in a similar way to Fair Trade or Organic certifications, offering the customer peace of mind as to the quality of the company and its business practices.
There are currently over 2000 registered B-Corps globally, distributed through more than 50 countries since its launch in 2006. This includes well-known brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, New Belgium, Seventh Generation, Warby Parker and Etsy.
Why become a B-Corp?
While there are obvious benefits to society environmentally, socially and health wise, there are also many business benefits as well. B-Corps can be very attractive to investors through the excellent demonstration of corporate social responsibility, legal accountability and high integrity of the company. This can also lead to products and services having a higher valuation as investors and customers increasingly value sustainability. Along similar lines this certification can differentiate a business from other companies, offering a USP for marketing.
Another major benefit is B-Corps ability to attract talent. According to Harvard Business Review, millennials, roughly 50% of the global workforce, want work that connects to a larger purpose. According to Hewitt Associates, companies with higher levels of employee engagement outperformed the stock market by nearly 20%. By achieving this certification it demonstrates the businesses commitment to its employees in terms of training, work conditions and pay. There is also the backing of the B-Corps community. There is an annual meeting between all of the B-Corps globally along with an active online network of businesses.
Benchmarking is a further element associated with the B-Corps movement. The B-Impact Assessment is an online tool that offers businesses the opportunity to benchmark their performance and subsequently set goals for continuous improvement. The tool is available for all organizations, not just B-Corps, offering a valuable resource for all forward thinking businesses.
B-Corps are a new way of doing business, accounting for their environmental, health and social impact and trying to do business in a positive way while still making profit. It provides high standards for businesses to aspire to and gives consumers and investors’ confidence in the company’s mission. This growing trend is likely to continue as major companies identify the huge benefits of social business and how to make a positive impact on their community.