Some business leaders are completely indifferent about whether they’re making the world a better place. They only worry about the bottom line.
But that’s not you.
You want to run a successful company and do some good in the process. The problem is that this can be a tough goal to communicate to your business partners, future employees, and customers. To explain it briefly makes it sound like an empty declaration, but to go into detail risks sending the message that you care more about being a good citizen than making a profit.
But if you’re serious about meeting high standards of corporate purpose and making a positive impact on society and the environment, then becoming a certified B Corp may be for you.
A B Corp certification signals that a company voluntarily considers the impact its decisions have on employees, the larger community, and even the environment. Although there is a certification process that demands a fair amount of time and energy, the benefits can far outweigh the costs.
The Benefits of Being a B Corp
After getting certified as a B Corp, you join a network of businesses with a demonstrated focus on similar goals. This network will help you form actionable plans to keep improving and develop mechanisms for accountability so you stick to those plans.
The certification itself will allow you to quickly demonstrate your dedication to developing a healthy workplace culture, giving back to the community, and reducing your company’s environmental impact.
Besides the benefits to society, getting certified as a B Corp will help you attract top talent, particularly among Millennials entering the workforce. A report commissioned by the Career Advisory Board found that the No. 1 thing young professionals want in a career is meaning. They care more about connecting work to a larger purpose than any previous generation. Offering proof that these values matter to you will set your company apart.
Not only can you expect to hire better people, but you will win more business as well. Consumers want to do business with socially responsible companies—particularly in the wake of the Great Recession, when many other companies are focused solely on their earnings reports. Warby Parker, a B Corp-certified company, has had wonderful success by becoming known as the company that donates a pair of eyeglasses for every pair sold. Its unofficial tagline of “Do good” ties the company’s philanthropic goals to the foundation of its business.
Should You Pursue a B Corp Certification?
Despite these benefits, B Corp certification isn’t for every company. For starters, the certification process requires companies not only to say the right things, but to put them into action. This can be a laborious and costly process, particularly if you haven’t already made these principles a core part of your business. If your company is more established, some of the requirements may be more difficult to meet.
Of course, if contributing to the greater good is truly something you hope to accomplish, then the costs shouldn’t scare you. You’ll have to take a serious look at how you conduct business on a regular basis (recertification occurs every two years), but it will be worth it in the end. Your company will be more transparent, your employees will be happier, and your company will make a positive impact on the community and the environment.
How to Get Certified
If you think becoming a B Corp is right for your business, there are a few steps you can take to get started:
1. Take the B Impact Assessment. This will assess the overall impact of your company and its stakeholders. You must earn 80 out of the possible 200 points on the B Impact Assessment to meet the performance requirements. (You can see how your company compares to certified B Corps here.) You’ll also need to complete an assessment review with a B Lab staff member over the phone and submit supporting documentation.
2. Meet legal requirements. Determine the path for your corporate structure and state of incorporation. (You can read more about the legal requirements here.)
3. Sign on the dotted line. Sign the B Corp Declaration of Independence and Term Sheet, and pay the annual certification fee to make it official.
4. Participate in an on-site review. Ten percent of certified B Corporations are randomly selected each year for an on-site review, which can take six to 10 hours.
This might sound like a lot of effort, but it’s a small price to pay to be recognized for your efforts and join a community of like-minded corporations that can support you in your mission to make the world a better place. Happier employees, better communities, and a healthier planet are goals every company should strive for.
What benefits could your business derive from B Corp certification?
Published: April 29, 2014