What is a Certified B Corporation?
Updated: Jul 11, 2022
A guide to the UK B Corporation movement
Certified B Corporations, commonly known as B Corp, are businesses that give as much consideration to their social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns. Simply put, B Corp is to business what Fair Trade is to coffee.
At the time of writing, there are currently 3,720 Certified B Corporations in more than 70 countries across a wide range of sectors. They have one unifying goal to redefine business success, examining measures that matter, not just the bottom line. They are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
B Corps have been around in the US since 2007, with brands like Ben & Jerry's and Patagonia achieving certification. "The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders - it has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet", Rose Marcario, the CEO Patagonia, stated. The company was awarded; Best for Changemaker, Community, Environment and Overall in 2019 from the B Lab.
In 2015, the initiative launched in the UK and now includes household names such as Propercorn, JoJo Maman Bebe, BrewDog and Abel & Cole. One of ECO STORIES' interviewees, Kresse Wesling, whose company Elvis and Kresse has been certified since 2015 and has a 90.3/200. Shops are now making it easier to find brands from the B Corp Community; for example, both Waitrose and Boots have online B Corp Shops.
The not-for-profit B Lab assesses B Corporation certification through the B Impact Assessment. They say the most credible tool a company can use to measure its impact on its workers, community, environment and customers. An exam is also required, which includes 150 to 200 questions (depending on a company's size and sector) regarding how the business operates. The process highlights the areas of weakness, providing a clear roadmap for improvements and the positive, sustainable and social practices that should be implemented to strive for good continually. Organisations need to achieve 80/ 200 to be certified and to meet the legal requirements of integrating stakeholder consideration into their governance structure. So it is the business's legal responsibility to protect all stakeholders and not just shareholders. Gaining a B Corp certification is not a one-time thing either; businesses must re-certify and improve their score every three years.
All Certified companies sign the B Corp declaration -
The corporation has formed a community of leaders and drives a global movement of people using business as a force for good. B Lab and B Corps – around the world and in the UK – have always believed that society's most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and non-profits alone.
By harnessing the power of business, B Corps balances profits and growth with a positive impact on their employees, communities and the environment. Ultimately, their vision is one of reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose, stronger communities and a healthier environment.
Written by Bethan @ theecostories