B Corp Certification – Can it Help You Build a Better Business?

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Denver’s Quarterly Forum provides a place for emerging executives to “dream more, learn more, do more and become more.”  We couldn’t agree more.

QF is a non-partisan leadership organization with members representing diverse industries but bound by professional ambition and commitment to the community. Canopy’s participation with QF has opened doors and provided experiences that are educational and inspiring.  The topic at a recent QF Breakfast Program was B Corps – what they are and are not, their value and increasing appeal to businesses worldwide.

We were immediately intrigued by the B Corp movement. Below are some answers to some common questions about building a better business through B Corp certification.

Q: What is a B Corp?
A:   ‘B’ stands for benefit.  A Certified B Corporation is a for-profit company that has been certified by the B Lab to have met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Q: What is B Lab?
A: B Lab is the nonprofit and organizing force behind the B Corp movement. In 2007, the B Lab team worked with leading businesses, investors and attorneys to create a comprehensive set of performance and legal requirements designed to certify B Corporations.

Q: Believers in the B Corp movement profess that ‘Using business as a Force for Good is good for business.’  How? Why? Is there proof?
A:  Case studies, global surveys, and reports from industry thought leaders like Accenture, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Harvard Business School, McKinsey & Co offer compelling evidence that using business as a force for good saves money, enhances profitability, and generates more business value.

Q: Name three benefits of becoming a B Corp?
1.  Attracting Investors – Goldman Sachs found that there is a dramatic increase in the number of investors seeking to incorporate sustainability and environmental, social and governance factors into their portfolio constructions.
2.  Increasing Credibility and Building Trust – Consumers increasingly want to know what kind of company stands behind the product or service. B Corp certification can help businesses build credibility and trust in the brand because of the third-party standard that evaluates every aspect of the business.
3.  Protecting a Company’s Mission for the Long Term – By becoming a B Corp, entrepreneurs can protect their mission by elevating their company’s core social and environmental values to the status of law.  A legal framework enables B Corps to stay mission-driven through capital raises, succession and new ownership.  This helps ensure the company will benefit society for the long term.

Q:  Are B Corps limited to a certain type of business or industry?
A:  No. B Corp offers a framework that any company can use to build a better business.  It is relevant to B2B, B2C, start-ups, LLCs, C or S Corps, global brands or family businesses – regardless of existing legal structure.

Q: Who are some notable businesses that are B Corps?
A:  Patagonia, Etsy, Dankso, King Arthur Flour, Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot, Seventh Generation, Rally Software, New Belgium Brewing Company.  More than 1,300 businesses across dozens of industries in 40 countries have embraced the B Corp movement.

Q: Why is B certification important?
A:  Certification is comparable to USDA Organic certification for produce or Fair Trade certification for coffee.  However, unlike these two examples, B Corp certification evaluates the entire company – not just one product or aspect.  With a B Corp certification, good companies are recognized, not just good marketing.  The Sierra Club has recognized the Certified B Corp logo as one of the most trustworthy eco logos on the market.

Q: What is a B Impact Assessment?
A:  The B Impact Assessment is a free, confidential, online tool that assesses a company’s social and environmental performance on a 200-point scale. It provides access to resources and best practice guides designed to improve performance over time.  It gives any type of company the ability to identify where it is doing well and where it has room for improvement.  The tool was created for companies interested in B Corp certification or for companies unsure about certification but want a tool to assess, compare and implement improvements.

Q:  Explain why being a B Corp helps in hiring or recruiting?
A:  Research shows that millennials  (who represent nearly 50 percent of the global work force) are looking for work-life integration.  They are looking for careers that offer an opportunity to create meaning, not
just make money.  Passionate, values-aligned millennials are attracted to a B Corps’ higher purpose and the B Corp community’s collective purpose.

Q: What is the B Corp community’s collective purpose?
A: The B Corp community is trying to lead a global movement to redefine success in business. B Corporations want to build a new sector of the economy, comprised of innovative, passionate and forward thinking business leaders that celebrate being the best for the world, rather than the best in the world.

Source:  The B Corp Handbook by Ryan Honeyman

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