B Corp Awareness Month: B Corporations Hit Their Stride and Your Company May Want to “B” a Force for Good Too! by Marcia Robbins, March 10 2022, 10 Comments
Look for the B! EcoPlum, Inc. is now a certified B Corporation (B Corp). After a rigorous two and a half year process, EcoPlum and its Sustainable Swag® line of promotional products was certified at the end of January, with a public announcement on February 15th. Our timing was good—March is B Corp Awareness Month and we’d love to give you some insight on what it means to be a B Corp.
What is a B Corporation?
B Corporations (B Corps) are values-driven social enterprises that balance profit with purpose. They are profit-motivated like traditional businesses, but they also pursue social and environmental goals like many non-profits. To become a B Corp, a company must be verified by the non-profit organization B Lab to meet high standards of environmental performance, legal accountability, and public transparency on a range of factors.
Certified B Corps must:
- Show high social and environmental performance in a rigorous review process and by scoring 80 or above on the detailed B Impact Assessment.
- Legally commit to changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders—shareholders, customers, employees, community, environment—in decision-making.
- Exhibit transparency in reporting and allowing information about their performance, measured against B Lab’s standards, to be publicly available on their B Corp profile.
How Big is the B Corp Movement?
Since B Corp certification began in 2006, over 4,700 companies have become B Corps in 78 countries around the world, covering 155 industries, and including almost 400,000 workers. Many big companies have converted to B Corps, including well-known ones like Danone, Patagonia, Seventh Generation, Eileen Fisher, Athleta, Allbirds, Ben & Jerry’s, and Burt’s Bees. But companies of all sizes are taking steps to join the B Corp movement.
Why Become a B Corp? What are the Business Benefits?
Companies are choosing to become B Corps because they recognize that business is about more than just profit. But the choice to get certified is turning out to be good for business, too.
Here are some interesting business benefits accorded B Corps:
- Small Business Differentiation. Certification offers enhanced credibility and a third-party seal of approval for small businesses (like EcoPlum), with a long-time commitment to the triple-bottom line of people, profit and planet.
- Appeal to Potential Employees. People want to work for companies that have commitments to make the world a better place. Employees are more loyal to these companies and feel prouder to work for them. Almost 85% of working millennials believe making a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition, according to the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL).
- Employee Retention. In general, both men and women tend to be more committed to their organizations when they focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. But women have a stronger commitment than men based on CSR. Women tend to view work more as a calling, making CSR especially important for the retention of women. The commitments B Corps make to management by inclusion and enhanced benefits also make for more satisfied, happier employees.
- Customer Loyalty. Customers are more satisfied and loyal to companies with CSR commitments. CCL studies have found that CSR is linked to increased purchase behavior, higher customer satisfaction, and higher marketing value of a firm—all translating into increased profitability. Means & Matters cites a 2019 survey that found 47% of consumers would pay at least 25% more for a sustainable product. For Generation Z, this number jumps to 50-100% compared to other age groups.
- Increased Investor Interest. Eighty-three percent of investors prefer to invest in businesses known for their positive actions on CSR. The number of sustainable investments funds has tripled since 2008 and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) funds outperformed conventional funds in 2020.
- Better Risk Profile. Research from the Yale Center for Business and Environment shows that rigorous B Corp standards mitigate risk by building good governance practices enhanced by benchmarking and transparency.
- Business Success is Linked More and More with Social Change Commitments. The COVID19 pandemic and its corporate downtime gave businesses and employees the opportunity to reevaluate and redefine their place in the world with a greater focus on our interconnectivity. This created social change across the globe.
- Community. Connecting with other B Corps offers a comradery of purpose and provides a ready network of resources from among all kinds of companies, simplifying the vetting process for distributors, suppliers, vendors, advisors, etc. Inside this community, all organizations completed a similar evaluation of their business practices and have proven their commitments to the principles of B Corporations in all facets of their businesses.
What Does the B Corp Label Mean to Me?
Notably, if you see the B Corp label on a company website or in a retail window, it means the company has been third-party verified for its practices and will undergo periodic review to keep its designation. B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA organic is to milk and other foods.
B Corp Awareness Month
During the month of March, B Corps around the world are sharing stories “Behind the B” on what makes B Corps better businesses and a force for good! On social media, look for the hashtag #BehindTheB.
We Are All Interdependent #StandWithUkraine
With the human crisis unfolding in Ukraine, B Lab, the organization behind the certification of B Corps, calls on the B Corp community to find ways to coalesce and care for those impacted by the ongoing conflict. This is part of being a B Corp, too.
In a statement on its website, B Lab condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine saying, “Peace and justice are vital to creating a more inclusive, equitable and regenerative society. We need peace to unify together in the efforts to protect our planet and people. All People. We are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.”
In his own message, B Lab Co-founder Andrew Kassoy said, “An interdependent stakeholder economy stands on the shoulders of stable democracies and a robust global system of rules. Without these guardrails, we don’t have a chance of transitioning to an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all.”
See the full B Lab statement in support of Ukraine, more of Mr. Kassoy’s message and resources to help here.
NOTE ON DATA SOURCES:
Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). Source for data on millennials, customer loyalty, employees. See article here. The CCL advances leadership for the benefit of society worldwide.
Means & Matters, Bank of the West. Source for data on consumers and risk mitigation from the Yale Center for Business and Environment. See article here. Bank of the West is a leading sustainable bank.