B Corp Movement – Part 2: Our Own Journey to Certification

By: Kristen Cavanagh, Neighbourhood Group of Companies

See Part 1 here.

Upon researching the certification a bit more, as a restaurant group, it became obvious to us that this was going to be challenging. How were we going to certify in an industry that is notorious for under paying their workers, requiring they work long hours, producing a high level of waste and is not known for it’s stellar environmental practices. We knew though that the certification is where we wanted to be and where we have to be as a society. We then pledged to do whatever we have to, to get there.

B the Change - Think Globally Eat Locally

In order to become certified, we first had to complete the free B Impact Assessment on the bcorporation.net website (and of course, we had to have practices which we felt qualified us to become B Corp Certified!). They say this assessment takes approximately 90 minutes, however this depends heavily on the size of the company and the availability of data. This assessment is no joke either. It’s rigorous, it’s thorough, and leaves no rock un-turned. It holds high standards of purpose, accountability and transparency. Of an available 200 points, a company must receive a minimum of 80 points to be eligible to certify. The average for-profit company scores about 55 points. That may not sound far off but with over 200 questions, many of which are only worth 0.25 of a point, it can be challenging. And it’s meant to be challenging! If this were easy, everyone would do it and it would lose its relevance. For us, this process took days, even weeks to complete. We were attempting to certify as a restaurant group of four restaurants so often needed to compile specific data from four different locations. At times in our industry, you only get a few hours a day to answer emails, follow up with guests and team members, let alone go through a 200 question assessment. Time was our first challenge, but one we were able to overcome.

Once we completed our assessment and were above 80 points, we then sat through a phone call from one of the B Lab Standards Analysts asking us questions about everything we’ve just claimed in our assessment. In that phone call we both lost points and gained points but ended up over 80 points. Let’s celebrate! Not so fast…

We now needed to provide documentation for many of the items we just went over in our phone call. Remember when I said they don’t leave any rocks unturned? After the approval of these documents, we were at a point to certify. The last step was actually amending our articles of incorporation to include that we are in business for other reasons than just profit; society, the environment, and community.

Some of the areas we received points was our ratio of female to male management; training we provide on transparency and company financials; the use of local, independent suppliers; our various environmental initiatives like solar panels for hot water, water conservation, green electricity; our community involvement with the Grand River Conservation Foundation, and offering benefits to all full time employees.

The assessment is a great tool to measure, compare and improve your social and environmental impact. Even though we thought we were doing good, after the assessment, we realized we could do so much better! The assessment is a free tool, so even if you do not want to go through with the certification, there are best practices associated with just about every question to give you ideas on how you can apply this to your own business…for free!

So, did we certify? Find out in Part 3!

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