B Certification – What it Means for Your Business and the Planet
There are more than 3,500 certified B Corporations in 70 different countries, which is good news for the planet and its people. So, what does it take to join the ranks here in Australia?
If you’re keen to give your customers even more confidence that they’re making a great choice by picking your product, getting certification makes a lot of sense. And when you’re in the health, natural or organic space, the good news is there are a few different certifications to consider. The even better news is you don’t have to stop at one.
Depending on the certification you choose to chase, customer confidence is just one of the benefits. One option to consider is becoming a certified B Corporation. Established in 2007, B Corps are making a genuine difference in the world. We asked Andrew Davies, CEO of B Lab Australia and New Zealand, the organisation behind B Corp in our region, five key questions to learn more about getting certified as he shares how – and what’s in it for you.
Q. What do certified B Corporations look like?
B Corps come from all industries and in all sizes. The thing they have in common is the desire to use business as a force for good.
Essentially, they’re businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability. They balance profit and purpose and try to consider all stakeholders – not just shareholders – in their business decisions.
Q. Why do businesses want to become a certified B Corp?
Businesses pursue certification for many different reasons. Mostly, they want to be part of a network and community of like-minded businesses, and the certification is the thing that brings them together.
B Corps look to collaborate with other B Corps and they share knowledge from their own improvement journeys with each other. When you’re working with the same goals in mind, there’s a lot that can be shared – even across industries or regions.
It’s also a great way to benchmark your impact as a business. The need to become re-certified every three years requires the same rigorous process as the initial certification, which drives businesses to improve constantly and leads to trust and credibility from customers, suppliers and partners.
Q. What must a business be doing to be considered for certification?
If you’re a for-profit business using its profits to drive positive change, becoming a B Corp is probably a good fit. Before starting the process of becoming a B Corp, a business should start with a focus on its impact. Where do you want to create change or have a positive impact? Every business can do this but it’s really about where they can make the biggest difference.
Then they should focus on those small wins – the quick changes they can make to improve. Often this is about formalising practices through written policies or structuring your giving so that, as your business grows, it grows too.
After this point, a business might choose to focus on one of the areas of the B Impact Assessment. Then, once they certify, they can start looking at the other impact areas and improving piece by piece. That’s why we say the assessment is a great improvement tool.
Q. What does achieving certification involve?
Certifying means meeting standards of social and environmental performance. Using the B Impact Assessment, we measure five impact areas – environment, community, workers, customers and governance. The assessment contains around 200 questions, which are determined by a company’s size and sector, and companies must get a minimum of 80 out of 200 points across the five impact areas to achieve certification as a B Corp.
Q. Once a business becomes certified, what’s next?
B Corps have to re-certify every three years, with an updated B Impact Assessment, which holds them accountable to independent standards and drives them to constantly improve. The best B Corps never stop at certification – they’re constantly raising the bar for other businesses and even inspire our assessment criteria.
Being part of the community also means collaborating with other B Corps. That can be switching your business’ bank or superannuation, choosing B Corp coffee or catering for your office, or having a B Corp consultancy help you to lower your emissions. The idea of interdependence underpins the whole movement.
For a movement that began 13 years ago with just 82 certified companies, B Corps have been growing in strength and numbers ever since. In Australia alone, there are now more than 250 B Corps, including a growing number in the natural and organic space, such as Flora & Fauna, Flow Hive and sustainable healthcare products company Nutricare. Why not consider joining them?