The concept of B Corporations was conceived in 2006, when the co-founders of B Lab wrote a book about corporate social responsibility.
In order to become a certified B Corp, a business must meet three criteria:
- Verified social and environmental performance
- Public transparency
- Legal accountability
The third criterion is where most companies stumble — having all these areas measured at the same time is difficult, and if you were selected for review and failed, you’re unable to keep your B Corp status.
So, what is a B Corp?
B Corporations are for-profit companies that use their business to solve social and environmental problems.
As a Certified B Corporation, you are required to meet higher standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. There is no cost involved with becoming certified.
How are B Corps assessed?
Certified B Corporations need to achieve a minimum score on the B Impact Assessment—an assessment of a company’s impact on stakeholders including employees, customers, environment, and community.
Their B Impact Report is made public, published on the B Corp website.
The report includes a breakdown of every part of the business, from their governance structure, to their environmental impact and initiatives, and their impact on the community.
Anyone can visit a brand’s B Impact Report and find the detailed breakdown of how their score was given.
How do Companies Become B Corps?
The certification process for B Corps is a rigorous one, with companies being scored on an “impact scorecard” across eight categories: environmental, employee, community and government relations, consumer impact, and leadership development.
By becoming a certified B Corp they demonstrate their commitment to meeting the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance and transparency.
Examples of Sustainable Clothing B Corporations:
What’s Included in the B Impact Report?
The key part about being a B Corp is that it requires transparency. The B Impact Report is made public, and anyone can view B Impact Reports for any Certified B Corp.
It shows the highs and lows, and how they compare to other B Corps.
For example, here is Frank and Oak’s B Impact Report:
We can dig into the details, for example, their effect on their community in terms of Job Creation, Diversity & Inclusion, Civic Engagement, and more.
Overall, we get a nice overview of what initiatives the company is taking part in, and if they’re making a positive impact.
If you’re interested in sustainability certifications, check out our recent post on the subject: Sustainability Certifications: What Do They All Mean?