“Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”
To become B Corp Certified is a conscious decision by a corporation. It’s a move towards a more sustainable way to conduct your business. It demonstrates to customers that profits are not the only driver of your corporation.
How do you become B Corp Certified?
There are 4 steps to becoming certified.
You have to complete the B Impact Assessment. The assessment is designed to consider the way in which your corporation works and how it treats employees, customers, community and the environment.
You will need to meet their legal requirements. Depending on how big your corporation is and where you are based different legal requirements apply.
You will need to meet with B Lab staff to discuss your assessment and provide documentation to support and verify your application.
You will need to sign an agreement and pay annual fees. Fees vary by region and annual sales.
According to the B Corp website it can take 6 – 10 months to complete and 1 in 3 applications is certified. Corporations need to periodically re-certify.
Can you trust B Corp Certified corporations?
B Corp standards are not enforceable by law and there is no liability for failure to meet requirements. However, being certified does indicate that a corporation subscribes to a level of social and environmental ethics.
Most certified corporations are small to medium sized. It gives them some credibility in an industry of greenwashing. Evidence gathered by the Harvard Business Review from B Corp applications suggests certified applicants believe “the major crises of our time are as a result of the way we conduct business.” They want to “join the movement of creating a new economy with a new set of rules” and “redefine the way people perceive success in the business world.”
There is a significant amount of marketing hype with regards to corporations declaring their sustainability. The only way to discover the truth is through corporation transparency. What metrics does the corporation publish for you to see and measure? Unfortunately not many corporations publish as much data as they could.
However, investigating various corporations every time you buy a new t-shirt can seem like a lot of work.
The companies that are certified generally seem to be invested in sustainability. Certification gives you an easy way to quickly evaluate a corporation.
Do consumers care about B Corp Certification and sustainability?
Deloitte conducted a survey into consumer attitudes to the environment and sustainability.
- Ethical and sustainable concerns affect almost a ⅓ of consumers.
- 15% of respondents don’t have enough information to make a sustainable choice.
- ⅔ of customers pay attention to ethical working practices and human rights issues.
- 64% cited reduction of plastic and packaging as a top concern.
- Consumers want corporations to help them adopt more sustainable lifestyles.
- Gen Z are the fastest growing group adopting sustainable behaviours. 45% stopped buying certain brands because of ethical and sustainable issues.
Consumers do care about sustainability. But they want it to be easier. They want corporations to shoulder some of the responsibility and help them make life more sustainable.
B Corp Certified verdict
Being certified gives you an external verification that a corporation subscribes to certain ethical and sustainable standards. It makes your life easier as you don’t need to investigate corporations before purchase. While it’s not a 100% guarantee the corporation is adhering to guidelines, it does provide you with a quick evaluation of a corporation’s ethos.
To find out more about sustainable living click here.