By Kat Lewis
I’m very excited to share that we are in the process of certifying as a B Corporation (B Corp). It’s a thorough process that won’t happen overnight, but we have already learned a great deal from the initial assessment and we haven’t even completed it yet.
As I’m leading the business through the process, I wanted to share what we’re learning as we go and hopefully encourage more small businesses to explore the B Corp certification process.
In this blog, I’ll cover:
- What a B Corp is
- What B Corp certification involves
- How B Corp certification benefits a business
- What benefits we’ve seen so far from the assessment process
So, what is a B Corp?
The B Corp movement started all the way back in 2006 to provide a way to recognise businesses that met high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.
At its heart, the B Corp movement balances profit with purpose and supports companies that want to shift the way in which business works to make the world a fairer and better place for everyone.
Any company that is a certified B Corp goes through a rigorous certification process that examines every aspect of the business, from how it treats its employees and what the company’s overarching mission is, to its environmental impact and customer stewardship.
How do you certify as a B Corp?
To certify as a B Corp, you have to begin by taking the B Impact Assessment, in which you have to answer dozens of questions relating to your business. The answers you provide are used to calculate your score.
One of the best parts about the certification process is that you can complete the B Impact Assessment free of charge – although it does require a fair time commitment.
You only pay a fee once you submit your assessment, at which point you pay an annual certification fee (assuming you are successful) that is determined by the region in which you’re based, as well as the size and structure of your business.
The Impact Assessment is split into five categories:
To apply for B Corp certification, you need a minimum score of 80 on the B Impact Assessment (out of a potential total of 200).
Completing the Impact Assessment is only the first step. Once you submit your assessment, it goes through a verification process, during which time all the documentation and policies you have submitted are checked and verified. This whole process can take months, so it’s worth making sure you have as much lined up in advance as possible.
What are the benefits of B Corp certification?
If you’re reading all this and wondering if it’s worth the effort, I can tell you that it is. On a personal level, I want to work for a business that cares about the world in which we all live, and B Corp certification demonstrates that. As a consumer, I actively look for certified B Corps when making a purchasing decision – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
But becoming a B Corp is about far more than just doing something I believe in. There are proven business benefits to going down this route. According to research by B Corporation, B Corps in the UK experience a faster growth in turnover than their peers; they have improved employee retention, engagement and diversity; and they exhibit higher levels of innovation.
How are we benefiting from going through the assessment process?
We are still completing our Impact Assessment, so we have quite a long road ahead of us before we can proudly tell the world we’re a certified B Corp. However, we have already learned a great deal from the process – and personally I believe many other small businesses in particular would find the same.
One of the biggest benefits so far has been highlighting gaps in policies. We, of course, have statutory policies in place for the likes of sick pay and maternity leave, but going through this process has prompted us to ask whether we want to and can do more. If we can’t do more now, then when can we plan a positive change in the future?
As a female-led business, we are particularly passionate about making sure women’s careers don’t suffer as a result of having children for example. But to date, none of our full-time employees have fallen pregnant or taken maternity leave. This assessment has prompted us to ask what we want to see in our maternity policy before we need it, giving us time and space to create a policy that works for both the business and our employees.
The B Impact Assessment also resulted in a team session to clarify our mission statement as a business. This has been a fantastic way to bring the team together and ensure we are all working towards a common goal that we are passionate about and can articulate.
Our mission: “Empowering entrepreneurs to share the ideas, knowledge and stories that are under threat of never being told” encompasses what we do as a business and speaks to our broader goal of making content creation accessible to people from diverse backgrounds within the entrepreneurial world.
Those are just two examples of the ways in which working through the B Corp certification process is already having a positive impact on our business. We’re excited about taking the next steps on our journey to certification and we’ll keep you updated with our progress.
If you’re also in the process of certifying as a B Corp – or are already certified – we’d love to hear about your journey. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with any tips you might have.
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