Ethical certification is one way of standing out from the crowd as a sustainable provider of goods and/or services. There are quite a few bodies that certify, but its all about making the right choice for you and your business – and its about sending an appropriate message to your target audience that complements your brand and your product. Over the next few weeks SustainingPeople will be reviewing some of the better certifications and how their support might be right for your company – starting with B Corps.
What is B Corps?
B Corp (Benefit Corporation) is the status given to a company that meets the rigorous standards set by the US based non-profit B Lab. It is a private certification given to for-profit corporations who want to create additional public value. Being a B Corp means that you are part of a ‘…global movement of entrepreneurs using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems…’.
B Lab assists these B Corps in three ways:
- Through certification against stringent accountability, transparency and social/environmental performance standards.
- Advocating for and leading legislative change, to protect and support the social and environmental benefit creation work of B-Corp companies.
- Provide analytics and general measurement tools, as well as access to the world’s largest database of verified social and environmental impact data for private companies.
Why B Corps?
Essentially B Corps is a movement that uses market based and scalable solutions to create value to society not just shareholders. The legislative and measurement support is heavily data driven, which allows best practice accountability and transparency measures to be put in place.
B Corps is a certification tool for private companies only. Large listed entities already have to comply with a vast range of stock market standards (although these are often only transparency measures, rather than accountability measures), so operate in a different space to B Corps.
A B Corp certification acts as a point of differentiation; it attracts investors; attracts and engages the right sort of talent; generates press; gives access to support services; and links you with likeminded organisations that can work with you to protect your mission and build your business.
How do I become a B Corps?
You need to do some reading about the guidelines and standards that you will need to comply with – it may be that you need to change policies, and look at your supply chain, or it may be that you need to rethink some of your strategies. You can purchase this handy guide which will help you make the right changes to suit your business. Otherwise it’s a fairly straightforward three step process:
The certification fees are based on the revenue size of your business and can cost anywhere from $500 to $50,000 (if your revenues are over $1 billion).
B Corps are good for businesses, but especially for smaller organisations that need a point of differentiation or support to maintain their market share – it is a useful certification for sole traders in this regard. For start-ups, it can be a little trickier to meet the requirements during these initial phases; newbies can earn a temporary Certification Pending designation which provides them with the right support during the first 12 months.
Currently there are 1,212 B Corps operating in 38 countries internationally, and in 121 different industries. Small Giants, Impact Investment Group and Pro Bono Australia are just three of the many Australian companies that have become B Corps. What’s stopping you?