Stick man confused about B Corp. shows question marks and signs saying where, what, who, when, which

What is a B Corp?

B Corp is a movement of private companies that understand their existence and any success worth having is dependent on people and planet.   The idea behind the B Corp Movement is a big one, using the power of private business to help transform our economy to benefit all people, communities and the planet.

B Corporations are not perfect, but to certify they must make a commitment to have a positive impact on people and planet and consider all affected stakeholders in decision making.

“The economic challenges we’re facing are urgent, and it’s clear the UK public expect more from the brands they shop from and the organisations they work for. B Corp Certification provides an opportunity for companies to measure and improve impact for all stakeholders, across all areas of their business.” 

Chris Turner, Executive Director of B Lab UK

In the UK, this commitment is evidenced using the “mission lock” and signing the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence. The mission lock is a legal change to the Articles of Association. This change commits the company to creating a positive impact and considering a wide definition of stakeholders in decision making. The B Corp Declaration of Interdependence is a public statement of this intent and awareness of our interdependence upon and responsibility to each other and future generations.

To achieve certification B Corps have to go through a rigorous assessment of around 200 detailed questions focusing on 5 impact areas:

The questions, and the number of them, change depending on variables such as size and industry.  Points are gained depending on answers, again weighted depending on size. 

Each response must be evidence based, and the finished score is audited by an analyst at B Corp UK.  Companies must score 80 points to qualify. 

Often companies scrape the 80 points together and squeaky bum their initial accreditation.   As each 3 year re-certification anniversary comes round, points tend to increase for those that choose to remain certified.  This is down to the virtuous cycle of the B Corp movement.   

“If you want to go faster go alone, but if you want to go far, go together”

proverb quoted by Shaun Russell

Founder, Skandinavisk and B Corp Beauty Coalition in the “Forces for Good” podcast

Collaboration, competition and learning from each other, are important elements of the B Corp community. 

Companies that leverage this flourish within the movement.  B Corp UK nurture this outcome through:

  • local groups
  • events
  • online communities and
  • a strong social media presence

Why get a B Corp Certification?

B corp logo 2
Seal of approval

There are so many accreditations or badges you can earn, and wear, as you signal where you are on your journey to become a more sustainable company. 

Why B Corp stands out:

  • It looks at sustainability from a rounded perspective, considering your environmental and social impacts and how your governance supports these. 
  • It is more than a certification.  B Lab UK works on different levels to achieve economic transformation, from nurturing the supportive community to advocacy work through the Better Business Act
  • Awareness of the certificate is high. There are over 1,200 B Corps in the UK across 58 industries and 56,000 workers. Around 100 new accounts are created in the B Impact Assessment each week.  This can put pressure on the movement to compromise.  But it also brings greater attention and so, transparency.  Those who no longer make the grade, are identified as the standards evolve and tighten. 

Why should I care?

Blue skies and green grass
What a Wonderful World

Your motivation or entry point to any social or environmental impact improvement is individual.  It might be a deep connection to nature, a sense of responsibility to the next generation, your workers or your community.  It could be a sense of justice or fairness. 

Photo by Cristofer Maximilian, Unsplashed

Connecting with your motivation, and those of the people around you will sustain you when difficult decisions and trade offs crop up.  

Whatever your internal motivation, external motivators are getting louder, if not screaming. Any sensible risk assessment will these days include physical, legal, regulatory, reputation and financial risks associated with social and/or environmental factors.  

“As 2023 begins, the world is facing a set of risks that feel both wholly new and eerily familiar…including…a decline in human development after decades of progress…(and) the growing pressures of climate change impacts and ambitions in an ever-shrinking window for transition to a 1.5c world”

World Economic Forum Global Risk Report 2023

More interestingly, where there are risks, there is opportunity.  Those innovative companies that pivot to embrace a sustainable future, circular practices and social improvements , will be the first with their shoes on when the economy shifts around them. 

The opportunities associated with B Corp accreditation are mounting as the movement grows.  A B Lab UK survey of 352 B Corps found that, compared to similar surveys of UK SMEs, B Corps: 

  • Have faster growth in turnover and employee headcount 
  • Greater levels of employee retention, engagement and diversity
  • More robust governance processes
  • Higher levels of innovation
  • Higher expectations of future growth. 

New research (2023) by YouGov commissioned by B Lab UK has revealed that 80% of the UK public would favour shopping from companies that are doing good for people and the planet, yet only 22% find it easy to identify whether a company means what they say when considering buying from them.

2022 saw a watershed moment when over 1,000 UK companies became B Corps.  That’s over 1,000 companies who have made a legal commitment to consider all their stakeholders, not just shareholders, in their decision making processes. The movement is growing incredibly fast since its launch in the UK in 2015.

What are you waiting for?

To find out more about B Corp, check out the links in the article or Jayne for a no obligation chat. 

For more information please contact Jayne Saywell, one of our Business Advisors. Her knowledge, experience and ideas can help your company thrive in a wellbeing economy, and find joy in a sustainable future.

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