B-Corp is a term often mentioned when the sustainability of a company is discussed. If you have heard of B-Corps before and want to know more, you’re in the right place. What does the term “B-Corp” actually mean though? Why does it matter? What does it mean for the company and the planet? We’re exploring what B-Corps are, what they stand for, and what they do.
What is a B-Corp?
A B-Corp is a company which is legally required to consider the impact of its decisions. A B-Corp must meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Since the B-Corp certification was established in the US in 2006, over 3,600 B-Corps have risen up in 75 countries around the world. In the UK, there are currently over 400 B-Corps leading the way by embracing long-term thinking and stakeholder governance. The second largest B-Corp community in the world, the UK B-Corp movement represents 48 industries and over 22,000 employees.
B-Corp companies must have clear operating practices and are held to high standards legally. To be a B Corp, a company must qualify, and be re-certified every two years. The B Impact Assessment (BIA) measures a company’s impact. It requires a minimum score of 80 out of 200. A B Corp will also have to sign the ‘B Corp Declaration of Independence’, which means the business must:
- Be the change they wish to see in the world
- Operate in a way that shows people and place matters
- Aspire to do no harm, and to benefit all
- Acknowledge how they rely on each other, and so act responsibly for future generations
Famous B-Corp companies include ice-cream titans Ben and Jerry’s, and clothing companies such as Patagonia. Ben and Jerry’s make significant statements to support social causes as well as provide ways to support the farmers that provide their dairy and help contribute to the reversing of climate change. Patagonia are part of the 1% for the Planet initiative which sees 1% of total annual sales donated to grassroots environmental groups, amongst other ways to support the environment.
Other companies proudly showcasing their B-Corp certification include sustainable fashion brands Ecoalf, Happy Earth Apparel, and Kotn. Each commits to helping the planet, their suppliers and employees, as well as their social and customer communities. Sustainable sneaker brands VivoBarefoot and Veja also hold B-Corporation status and they tackle the impacts of the sneaker industry through their outreach work and sourcing of eco-friendly materials. Vegan haircare brand Umberto Giannini are bringing affordable, environmentally conscious haircare to the masses.
B-Corp companies have to complete a B Impact Assessment (BIA) which ranks their impact across the business. To reach B-Corp status a company must meet a minimum score of 80 across all impact areas. You can see the B-Corp status of any company on the B Corporation website, which shows the ranking of each section of the assessment. Ben and Jerry’s increased their B-Corp status score by 14.5 points between 2012 and 2014. They now sit at a score of 110 out of 200. Companies are assessed by their impact across their workers, community, customers and environment.
B Corps: Why do they matter?
The B-Corp movement allows consumers to align what they buy with their values. There is a growing demand for businesses to be more responsible in what they do. Shoppers have the power to reward or punish businesses through the way they buy.
B-Corp companies are an important part of the progressive movement towards eco-conscious living and consuming. By holding corporations accountable for their environmental output, community outreach, and worker treatment, the shift of the business world, fashion or otherwise, can be towards a more positive future for all.