What the B Corp Movement is All About – Part 1: B the Change!
By: Kristen Cavanagh, Neighbourhood Group of Companies
It’s pretty tough these days trying to navigate your way through the many different certifications companies can attain and even harder knowing whether they are authentic. When a product plasters “natural” “organic” “free trade” all over their packaging, can you really believe it? What does is mean?
About three years ago, our Group Leader came across something quite intriguing, the B Corporation certification (or B Corp). He described it as, what Fair Trade is for coffee; B Corp is for business. This really caught my attention, but the first thing I needed to know was what kind of name is “B Corp”?! What does the B stand for?
It turns out the ‘B’ stands for “Benefit”, meaning, Benefit Corporation. A Benefit Corporation is a legal term for a type of for-profit company that includes in their goals and mission, a positive impact on society, the environment, its workers and the community, in addition to their profits. This may sound like a ‘non-profit’ but the big difference is just that: the profits. These are companies that are trying to be successful financially while making a difference to help solve social and environmental problems. You may recognize some of the companies already part of this movement: Patagonia, Etsy, Seventh Generation and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
In order to give these companies a way to measure their impact, benchmark where they are at, and continue to improve, B Lab was created as a non-profit organization. With the creation of their B Impact Assessment and B Analytics, Benefit Corporations were able to obtain a certification that is all encompassing to include many different facets of the business. The assessment is conveniently broken down in to 5 facets: Governance, Environment, Workers, Community and Customers. The great thing about the B Corp Certification is that it is not just for “Benefit Corporations” but for any business that is using business as a force for goodTM.
The B Corp movement has now grown globally to over 47 countries and over 1600 businesses. That is quite the big community of like-minded organizations, all trying to do their part in running a responsible business. The goal of B Lab is that through the power of B Corps’ collective voice, one day all companies will not compete to be best in the world, but best for the worldTM, and society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity for all (www.bcorporation.net).
Leave it to Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia, to describe the B Corp movement in three simple sentences:
“…a community of businesses who learn, share with transparency and support one another on this journey of improvement. It is the only way we can move forward with the urgency and momentum needed to solve the huge challenges we face from global climate change and strained social and economic systems. We need the kind of businesses that B Corps represent, those conscious of responsibilities to all our diverse stakeholders: employees, customers, communities and, not least, the health of the natural systems that undergird our economy.”