What being B Corp certified tells customers about your business


Why being a B Corp could be the right move for your business.

Why being a B Corp could be the right move for your business

Ever wondered about B Corp certification and if it’s right for your company? What does it entail and how does the process change your business structure and ethos?

B Corp certification sets a business apart by their high standards of performance, accountability and transparency – whether that’s their employee benefits and charitable giving or supply chain practices and input materials.

Having B Corp certification can be a powerful way to build credibility and trust for your business. It demonstrates to your customers that you meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability.

Insights from those who have achieved B Corp certification

We spoke to two businesses, Zebra Growth and Social Supermarket, that have been through the process to get their input and insight on the process, what their motivations were and how they find it drives their business model.

Lee Fitzpatrick, CEO of Zebra Growth offered this about his motivations and why they decided to go through certification.

B Corp is a framework and should be thought of as such. We thought of it as a way we could create positive impact and decided it was the right route to go down for the business to build good practices.

And, Jamie Palmer, CEO of Social Supermarket added his reasons for seeking certification, “B Corp is recognised as the highest certification standard in responsible business and it’s a great way to keep on top of various different aspects of responsible business measurement. It measures not only one angle of social commitment but also how you govern the business and your environmental impact too. It’s like the Golden Globes of responsible business!

As a responsible business that puts ethics at the forefront of everything we do, it’s really important for us to have an independent measure of the areas we excel at and areas we can improve. “

Both businesses saw this as an important step and shared why getting this certification could be the right step for your business too.

Jamie says, “For businesses who are genuinely working towards making a difference, it's important to have a consistent and transparent measure of the impact you have on the environment and society. The number of B Corps has rapidly grown across the world and is viewed by most industries as the leading measure of responsible business.”

Lee explained, “It adds value to your business and your framework – it’s a rigorous process but I can guarantee that B Corp will highlight where you need to make changes. We also noticed the team impact; it provides a compass and alignment between the team members from a people/planet perspective which is great to see. It really prompts you to start measuring your impact as a business. We previously had a carbon impact awareness in place, but by going through the certification process, we learned where we can still make improvements so we can further reduce our carbon impact.

So how does being B Corp certified frame a business’ model and ethos and what’s the process like?

Both companies are already seeing positive changes across many aspects of their businesses.

“The nice thing is that we are just at the start of the journey, our internal drive team of the B Corp certification is determining what this looks like practically and how we need to honour it. It took us 15 months from start to finish. January 2023 is about getting measurements in place and optimising how we roll this out in our daily and wider functions within the business. It’s an exciting time for us.

It helped us get in a place of being less linear by going through the B Corp process. One of the first steps was to complete the impact assessment. One really interesting thing is that the impact assessment is available to all businesses, even if they aren’t planning on being B Corp certified. It’s a great baseline tool for all businesses.

The whole process helped us understand the gaps and to start thinking about how to generate solutions and living the principles of it.

It’s a big commitment but to us it’s really been worth it. Lee Fitzpatrick

Jamie explained, “For us, first and foremost, we're here to connect businesses and individuals with social enterprises. Our mission is to grow the social enterprise sector and positively impact one billion lives by facilitating everything from large-scale social procurement deals through to helping consumers find and buy gifts, food, drinks, clothing, etc. We see B Corp certification as a complementary accreditation to our Social Enterprise membership and it's certainly helped us from a community perspective. For example, the B Corp community is very collaborative and we often find companies that discover us and want to send our B Corp gift box to celebrate a new B Corp accreditation. We also recently partnered with a large healthcare provider on gifts for the 1000X Better event to celebrate 1000 B Corps in the UK where we were able to signpost the social good that had been created through the items we provided.

The process is very thorough. The whole application process took us a year from application to certification. The application in the first instance is reasonably straightforward and takes about 1-2 months whereby you submit your initial responses (this stage is also free and open to anyone who wants to understand the potential score they might hit). The assessment phase involves submitting lots of evidence and information to support your original answers which is very time intensive but this rigour is crucial to maintaining the B Corp standard. Lastly, the B Corp team runs through a final review of all your evidence before you receive a score (you need above 80 points to become a certified B Corp).

Final recommendations

Lee says, “Be cautious about your motivations and don’t do it because it’s trendy. You need to be authentic as it isn’t a marketing device, it’s a commitment. Come from a place of truth. We are in an age of greenwashing – businesses are doing these things to be seen to be good or prioritising these values. However, take the time to consider everything and to not do things just for appearances. A certified B Corp is a company that is finding balance between profit and purpose and show how they are different to the average company standards of practice. Overall, it’s an investment into a new set of standards.”

From Jaime’s perspective, he offered this, “I think just get going! There’s nothing stopping you – you can apply completely for free and it’s very straightforward to do."

So, there’s nothing you’ve got to lose from it and you’ll learn a hell of a lot too.

Opening up a discussion about whether or not a B Corp certification is right for your business should be your first step. Do some research, reach out to some businesses in the B Corp community to learn a little more about the overall experience and afterwards you may decide becoming B Corp certified may be the right next move for you!

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