Everything you Need to Know about B Corps
Imagine a world where the choices you make on what you buy would have a direct effect on the livelihood of others, create a positive impact on the environment and help build an inclusive and sustainable economy that works for the people and the planet.
That’s the world that B Corporations are trying to create.
Some may say it’s ambitious — but the fact that over 2,655 companies in 60 countries around the world (and counting) are already B Corp certified shows that there is willingness to take action among CEOs, investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders across all industries. B Corporations believe in balancing purpose and profit — and as a result, they’re succeeding.
Though the buzz around ethically-minded or value-driven companies have been around for a while, today’s consumers have unprecedented access to information right in the palm of their hands. This means that they are able to uncover news or online content about a company in an instant, research reviews on product ingredients or services and determine whether a brand’s values are are reflective in the way they treat their workers and carry their overall operations.
Basically, a consumer will always have their BS radar on high when it comes to where or what they choose to spend their dollars on.
According to data from Forrester, nearly seven in 10 millennials in the U.S. actively consider company values when making a purchase. Millennials, the rising generation of consumers, have the highest expectations for companies to take a stand on values. They demand corporate social responsibility — and companies who are smart are actively ensuring that they are doing everything in their power to adhere to the demands of these values-based consumers or they will eventually fall behind.
Being a Certified B Corp is basically the stamp of approval many socially-conscious shoppers seek. It’s an easy way to filter out companies that are simply using emotional or “cause marketing” as a way to create customer loyalty over authentic, purpose-driven companies that are actually making a positive difference in the world.
So what exactly is B Corp?
Certified B Corporations are a growing community of companies that believe in using business as a force for good. B Corps must meet certain standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency, with an aim to create value for society.
B Corp assessment and certification is made by the nonprofit organization, B Lab. B Lab, which stands for “beneficial,” also helps to drive change through a number of interrelated initiatives, such as campaigns for the adoption and improvement of benefit corporation statutes at the state level and providing educational resources to help inform the public.
What Does It Mean to Be B Corp Certified?
According to their website, “B Corp certification is to sustainable business what LEED certification is to green building, Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.”
To be B Corp Certified means you are a company that is paying attention to social causes and showing sincere support by taking actionable measures for positive change. By taking the time to go through the certification process, assessing the five “Impact Areas” — Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers — you are a company that cares about how their business impacts people, animals and the environment.
As a Certified B Corporation, you are also helping to build a collective voice, a unifying community, through the power of the B Corp brand. When a company becomes a Certified B Corp, they are voluntarily agreeing to uphold the values of B Corp. They are agreeing to work towards reducing inequality, providing high quality jobs, creating a healthier environment and stronger communities and overall shifting the way businesses have been traditionally built.
This can include making ongoing changes within their own organization, finding and implementing ways to improve every part of the supply chain and ensuring that their products and practices are actually benefiting people and the planet rather than causing more harm.
So How Do I Become B Corp Certified?
For a potential company to become B Corp Certified, they must first measure their impact using B Lab’s B Impact Assessment tool, made publicly available online. The assessment walks you through a series of questions to help you learn what it takes to build a better business for your workers, community and environment. It takes an average of 30 minutes for a quick snapshot; two to four hours for the full impact report.
Both assessments are free and confidential, and it also allows you to compare your social and environmental performance against other companies. For a B Corporation certification, you must score at least 80 out of 200 points on the B Impact Assessment.
After passing this performance requirement, B Lab also has a legal requirement — to change your company’s article of incorporation. This is to ensure that the interests of a broader group of stakeholders (employees, local community, environment) are considered, and not just the shareholders. It also allows shareholders to hold the company accountable to the company’s public benefit commitments. You have one year after you certify to change your articles of incorporation.
Finally, once you meet the performance and legal requirements, B Corp staff will register you with B Lab, explain the certificate fees, ask for supporting documentation and even plan for a potential on-site visit.
Once you’re a officially a B Corp, you are able to use the B Corp brand logo on your products and promotional materials and join the likes of brands such as Patagonia, Danone (the largest B Corp in the world), Warby Parker and Ben & Jerry’s, among countless other purpose-driven companies.
But it doesn’t end there — you will need to continue to monitor your company’s performance as a B Corp and remember to get recertified every three years.
Why Even Become a B Corp?
Because it makes sense.
In a Forbes article entitled “The Rise of B Corps Highlights the Emergence of a New Way of Doing Business,” it was reported that that UK-based B Corps that have been certified for at least two years were growing at an average rate of 14%. “Roughly one in three of these companies said they had reached new audiences since certification, and almost half said their B Corp status had helped them attract new staff,” the article continues.
So making the commitment to becoming a purpose-driven company is imperative for corporate success on so many levels. Apart from, you know, changing the world, here are other reasons why you should become a B Corp:
It’s smart and progressive. By not taking the steps to become a B Corporation, or at least consider taking the B Impact Assessment tool to see if you measure up, you may run the risk of falling behind. Adapt or disappear, as they say.
People are putting money where their hearts are, and are willing to pay extra for sustainable or ethically-focused products. Millennial consumers especially prefer brands with purpose and are thus rewarding those businesses with their brand loyalty. Cone and Porter Novelli consumer research showed that 79% of people are more loyal to purpose brands, with 73% saying they would even defend them.
In another study, according to New York Times bestselling author Simon Mainwaring, 91% of consumers would switch brands if a different one was purpose-driven and had similar price and quality. They want to know that a company went through all the measures to adhere to social and environmental standards — and when they see that B Corp logo, they’ll know.
It attracts top talent. More and more millennials report feeling unengaged at work and more likely to leave their jobs in less than a couple years in pursuit of another. They are seeking a higher purpose — one that they can feel passionate about and feel as though they are doing something meaningful to improve the current society we’re living in.
Another Forbes article entitled “The Power of Purpose-Driven” shares a recent Harvard Business Review study — “employees who derive meaning from their work report almost twice the job satisfaction and are three times more likely to stay with their organization to fuel business success.” Companies with purpose not only satisfy customers, but better motivate employees and attract new ones.
You’ll be a part of an influential, authentic and rapidly growing community. “We are all in this together” is basically what we’re saying. As a B Corp, you adopt similar values of thousands of exciting, purpose-fueled companies — companies that believe that climate change is real and that diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is crucial for business success.
This expanding community of Certified B Corporations is making it easier for consumers to tell the difference between truly good companies and simply good marketing. These companies are saying, “We’re legit” — and that we’re working constantly to help create actionable business-based solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.
B Corp Brands We Love
If you haven’t already noticed, we are so proud to be a part of the B Corp community.
Vitarock was first certified as a B Corporation in July 2015 and recertified in 2017. Becoming a B Corp has become a badge of honor for us. We’re proud to be the go-to shopping destination for socially-conscious shoppers who want to achieve personal wellness and joy without harming the planet or contributing to unfair employment and trade practices.
We carry hundreds of amazing brands with products that adhere to our four pillars: Pure, Green, Safe and Fair. Here are just some of the best B Corp brands we carry on Vitarock. Show them some love!
From their ingredients right down to the packaging, Burt’s Bees has been committed to responsible, sustainable practices while creating natural products people love. A large company with over 350 employees in three facilities, Burt’s Bees still continues to make ongoing efforts to reduce its operational footprint. Initiatives have included checking proper sorting of over 200 recycling, composting and waste bins and outfitting their facilities with energy-efficient lighting, resource management software and efficient production equipment.
A natural beauty and personal care company since 1978, Desert Essence prides itself on sourcing and harvesting “the most powerful ingredients on the planet in a sustainable and ecologically-responsible manner.” There are no artificial pesticides, herbicides or fungicides used in any of their natural and organic ingredients, and no animal testing is performed on their raw materials or finished products.
Badger is family business turned small giant, making certified organic and truly natural skin care products since 1995. A leader in the B Corp community, Badger has been honored (once again) in B Corp’s annual “Best in the World” and “Best for the Environment.” On top of creating some of the best formulas for their product lines (we’re obsessed with Badger’s Tea Tree and Lemon Cocoa Lip Balm!), this B Corp only uses ingredients that fit their rigorous natural standards for healthy agriculture, minimal processing, sustainable supply chain and health giving properties.
Ocean lovers can attest — All Good makes some of the best reef-friendly sunscreens out there on the market. As a “nature-based healing company,” All Good has been committed to promoting reef-friendly initiatives as well. Ongoing efforts on their part are being made to educate the public about toxic chemicals in sunscreen and personal care products, like oxybenzone, which damages the health of coral reefs. You can read more about their Reef Friendly Criteria here.
What can we say about Dr. Bronner’s products other than the fact that it’s one of the best natural brands out there (at least in our opinion). You can basically use Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap for everything! On top of the versatility and variety of their products, Dr. Bronner’s has been the pioneer for “Constructive Capitalism” — the idea of sharing profits with workers and the earth from which you made it. A B Corp and a Benefit Corporation with the State of California, the brand continues its founder’s legacy of dedicated social activism as well as other progressive initiatives to not only incorporate sustainable practices, but actually help reverse the damage done to the planet through regenerative organic agriculture.
A women-owned social mission driven business, Lunapads helps people have more body-positive experiences while supporting charitable cloth pad initiatives worldwide. Lunapads has helped provide over 17,000 menstruators in 18 nations with healthy, sustainable menstrual products through their Pads4Girls program. Together with the Uganda-based social enterprise AFRIpads, Lunapads also created the One4Her program, which helps provide funding for washable pads to those in need.
Be the change we need to better the planet. Learn more about B Corp and how you can take part in this global movement.
~The Vitarock Team