Conventional wisdom dictates that businesses have two choices: to make money or to do good. You can, though, choose both and make money while doing good. Unlike traditional corporations that give top priority to the bottom line, a B Corporation looks at what’s referred to as the triple bottom line or people, planet, and profit. B Corps consider the social and environmental impact of a business in their pursuit of profits.
What is a B Corp?
Though they’re often used interchangeably, B corporations and Certified B corporations are two distinct designations.
B corps, or benefit corporations, are legal entities that have the same accountability and transparency issues as certified B corps, but they’re only available in certain states, have a lower fee structure, self report on performance, and are not overseen by B Lab, the global network that certifies companies.
Certified B corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified environmental and social performance, legal accountability, and public transparency to balance purpose and profit. B Corp certification is to business what USDA Organic certification is to milk or Fair Trade certification is to coffee . B corp certifications have been issued to more than 3,500 B Corps in 70 countries and 150 industries.
What Does it Mean to be a Certified B Corporation?
When a business decides to become a B corp it’s indicating its desire to invest in sustainable development and contribute to a better society for all. Applying for a third-party B Corp certification formalizes a company’s commitment to putting equal emphasis on global responsibility and profit.
What are the benefits of B corp certification? Certified sustainable companies while doing good also have the ability to redefine what success means. Rather than a “profits at all costs” approach, even if it means harming people and natural resources, a certified company can use its resources as a force for good. Simply becoming B corp certified can be beneficial to a company. Research shows that 92 percent of consumers have a more positive image of a sustainable and socially responsible company; 87 percent say they’re more likely to trust the business.
Becoming a certified B corp is challenging and it may be difficult for some companies to achieve. Businesses who apply for certification undergo a rigorous process and must meet a long list of conditions. B Lab’s B Impact Assessment assesses a business’ performance in:
To receive B corp certification, a business must score at least 80 out of 200 points. There are also legal requirements that vary based on the type of business and the state where it’s formed. Once all requirements are met, an annual sales revenue-based fee is paid, and the certification is issued.
The Sustainable Development Goals and B Corps
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the U.N. in 2015 touch on issues that require a business to reimagine its approach to value generation. To help companies measure their progress, B Lab worked with the United Nations Global Compact to create the SDG Action Manager, an online tool that allows businesses to set goals, stay motivated, and track improvement in order to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The 17 SDGs provide a framework for sustainability-minded businesses to understand how they can be a positive force moving forward, helping to create a more sustainable economy.
To B or not to B: Becoming a Certified B Corp
UBQ is proud to be a Certified B Corporation. We’re delighted to join companies such as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Eileen Fisher, Athleta, Seventh Generation, and more in redefining success in businesses so that one day all companies use business as a force for good. We all have a part to play in realigning business values, working and living with purpose, and tackling environmental and societal challenges in a meaningful way. Becoming a B corp is one way to contribute to building a future that is inclusive and sustainable.