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B Lab is a non-profit corporation that certifies B Corporations—it offers a variety of support, varying from access to the Certified B Corp logo to introducing new Certified B companies to a large, lively community of other Certified B Corporations.
“B Corp is to business what USDA Organic certification is to milk.”
A Certified B Corp is a for-profit corporation that has been certified by B Lab, which is a non-profit company that measures a company’s social and environmental performance against the standards in the online B Impact Assessment.
There are over 4,000 Certified B Corps in 77 countries across 153 different industries.
B Lab’s goal is to build “a global community of Certified B Corporations who meet the highest standards of verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability.”
A Certified B Corporation is a company that has passed B Lab’s certification process, which involves assessing and possibly changing some of its methods in regard to social and environmental performances (i.e., how it treats its employees and how it treats its garbage).
There are five significant conditions to becoming a Certified B Corporation. Although some of these conditions overlap with Benefit Corporations, Certified B Corporations and Benefit Corporations are not the same thing).
According to B Lab, the five conditions that define a Certified B Corporation are:
Different types of companies require different types of certification. The four categories are:
The Assessment asks questions to help corporate leaders understand how—and why—“to build a better business—better for your workers, community and the environment.”
You can measure your company’s social and environmental impact on your own, using B Lab’s free, confidential B Impact Assessment.
30 minutes can give you a snapshot of your company’s impact, which includes a basic summary of which things your company excels at and which it could improve upon. 2 - 3 hours gives you a full impact report, which includes a holistic report on how your company scores on a single impact topic.
Within the B Impact Assessment, you can also access improvement tools, best practices guides and case studies as well as create a customized plan for your company’s improvement. Standards and benchmarks can help you reach your improvement goal.
If you doubt that one company—yours—can make a difference in the world yet still make a profit, consider this: according to the comprehensive study entitled Sustainability Pays: Studies That Prove the Business Case for Sustainability, “businesses can improve short-and long-term profitability through the adoption of sustainable practices […]."
If you don’t believe that people pay attention to or care about the sustainability issues of the corporations they work at, work with or buy from, you’re wrong.
According to Harvard Business Review, millennials, who represent about 50% of the global workforce, seek work that connects them to a larger purpose. The Impact Assessment is designed for any type of for-profit company and any size of for-profit company.
The questions posed on the Impact Assessment will be tailored to the number of employees you indicate, so owners of a small business can take the Impact Assessment as well. The Impact Assessment “comprehensively covers the impact of a businesses on all of its stakeholders, including its workers, suppliers, community and the environment.
The Assessment also captures best practices regarding mission, measurement and governance.” The most heavily-weighted part of the Assessment deals with each company’s specific business model.
Since the Impact Assessment measures current and previous business performance rather than planned intentions, start-ups tend to utilize it only as a learning tool—since they haven’t yet existed long enough to measure their impact, start-ups can instead weave the appropriate practices into their companies for future success.
As B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:
*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such source’s content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.
There is 1 comment left for What is a Certified B Corporation?v said: Tuesday, January 2, 2018
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Those are good ideas--thanks for reading our blog!