As society evolves, it's becoming increasingly important for businesses to have a positive impact on their communities and the planet. Companies are thus looking to become more socially and environmentally responsible. However, most don't know where to start, or even how to structure their approach.
This is where the B Corp certification comes in. This relatively new movement empowers businesses to become more responsible and recognizes them by granting them the B Corp certification. But what exactly does this certification consist of and how does a company obtain it?
The B Corp (Benefit Corporation) certification is awarded to for-profit companies that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. The certification was founded in 2006 in the state of Pennsylvania (USA), by the B Lab, a non-profit organization. The B Lab is responsible for auditing companies that wish to obtain the certification and evaluate the integrity of their statements. The B Corp certification also differs from other certifications offered to companies through the following points:
- It is the only certification that evaluates the entire social and environmental performance of a company;
- To maintain its accreditation, a company must recertify itself every three years. In this way, organizations must continuously improve;
- Certified companies, those in the process of becoming certified, or even those interested in the movement, can enjoy a business community that meets several times during the year.
The B Impact Assessment is a free online questionnaire created by the B Lab that allows businesses to assess their performance. It's simple: organizations answer give or take 200 questions in 5 different categories:
There are several advantages to becoming a B Corp certified. Here are a few that you could benefit from:
- Empowers your business to be more environmentally responsible
- Improves social impact
- Allows a company to differentiate itself in its industry
- Facilitates the recruitment of new employees
- Facilitates the retention of employees
- Helps to create business opportunities through the B Corp community and improves brand visibility and awareness
For a business to achieve B Corp certification, it must first obtain a minimum grade of 80 out of 200 in the B Impact Assessment. To accomplish this, the organization must, among other things:
- create documentation (code of ethics, employee handbook, etc.)
- implement concrete initiatives that have an impact on their responsibility (getting involved with underprivileged communities, setting up an onboarding process, etc.)
- modify legal documents to ensure that the company equally considers the well-being of its stakeholders and the growth of its profits.
The duration of the certification process varies depending on the size of the company, the industry, and the involvement of the business in the process. As for the cost, it depends on the company's annual sales. The higher they are, the higher the annual cost of certification will be.
Also, only for-profit businesses with at least one year of existence are eligible for certification. For young organizations with less than a year of operation, there is Pending B Corp, which is a certification that allows companies to get inspire from B Corp values at the early stage of their business. Non-profit organizations cannot be certified but can use the free online B Impact Assessment if they wish to hold their practices accountable.
There are currently more than 3,200 companies, including more than 250 in Canada, that are B Corp certified in more than 70 countries around the world. They all stand out in their industries for their excellent societal and environmental practices, and their desire to redefine business success.
B Corp certified companies in Quebec
Frank & Oak
The Unscented Company
B Corp certified companies around the world
The Body Shop
Ben & Jerry’s
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