In a world where greenwashing is as rampant as the climate's demise, it can be difficult to distinguish those who are talking the talk and walking the walk. When sifting through brands ethics statements and stances on sustainability, you may come across the Certified B Corp stamp of approval - a certificate for businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose - and wondered what exactly a Certified B Corp is. You're not alone, and below, we're unpacking one of the most important modern certifications an ethical business can obtain.
What is a B Corp Certification?
As mentioned, 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. With the aim to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy through businesses, the B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose.
Certified B Corporations, need to meet a verified standard of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose to become certified. In Australia alone, there are 257 certified B Corps, including brands such as Patagonia, Aesop and Beyond Bank, and there are 3500 global B Corps in total so far.
In short, when a business has B Corp certification, it is held to a higher standard to follow through with its ethical and sustainable commitments than brands who are not B Corp certified.
How is B Corp Status obtained?
For a company to obtain B Corp certification, they are required to be assessed by the non-profit organisation B Lab, which serves to review products or services, along with the overall positive impact it is making.
Certified B Corporations achieve a minimum verified score on the B Impact Assessment—a rigorous assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, customers, community, and environment—and make their B Impact Report transparent on bcorporation.net. Certified B Corporations also amend their legal governing documents to require their board of directors to balance profit and purpose.
The combination of third-party validation, public transparency, and legal accountability help Certified B Corps build the trust and value associated with the B Corp certification.
Why is it important?
As far as importance goes, any brand that is publicly committing to third-party ethics assessments gets a tick in our books, but to get into it, the importance of B Corps lies in their committment to change their legal organising documents to take all stakeholders into consideration. This means that legally, the B Corporations (AKA the companies that are B Corp certified) are willing to make legal changes within their companies in the name of being socially and environmentally responsible.
Essentially, when a brand focuses on the stakeholder instead of the shareholder, they recognise and take responsibility for their impacts while generating profits. In short, the company considers the impacts they have on people and the planet as well as the profit they are turning over.
What is the difference between Certified B Corp and Benefit Corporations?
Benefit corporations are often confused with Certified B Corp. The B Corp Certification works through B Lab, based in part on a company's verified performance on the B Impact Assessment. The benefit corporation is a legal structure for a business. Benefit corporations are legally empowered to pursue positive stakeholder impact alongside profit. Some companies are both Certified B Corporations and benefit corporations, and the benefit corporation structure fulfills the legal accountability requirement of B Corp Certification.
What are the benefits of becoming a Certified B Corp?
When a company is B Corp, it is held accountable for a number of social responsibilities, meaning it is easy for consumers to identify when a company is doing their part for the planet and for their employees. As consumers become more and more concerned with companies codes of ethics, becoming Certified B Corp allows for transparency and trust with consumers. It also provides cost saving resources for companies involved, with access to B Corp community data, which gives companies access to learn the most cost-effective means to be sustainable.