By Bailey Chenevert
All You Need to Know about B Corporations
Have you noticed the occasional ‘Certified B Corporation’ logo appearing on any of the products you buy? If you have, you’ve found a brand that aims to go above and beyond in their social and environmental impacts. While the world of product certifications and labels is a bit of a wild west in terms of legitimacy and relevance, the capital B with a circle around it is one that definitely passes the Cluey-approved test.
The B Corp movement has been around since 2006 (check out one of the earliest write ups about it in Inc. Magazine here). The theory of change behind the movement is to collectively shape our economic systems to be more beneficial for all stakeholders, and not just shareholders. By more companies becoming committed B Corps, there is a better collective output for positive impact globally. Today, there are over 4,000 certified B Corps.
In honor of last month being BCorp month, here’s a quick breakdown on what being B Corp Certified is all about.
What is a B Corporation?
B Lab, the nonprofit organization behind the certification process lists the following definition on their website: “Certified B Corporations are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. Unlike other certifications for businesses, B Lab is unique in our ability to measure a company’s entire social and environmental impact.”
What this means is that a company who has taken the step of getting a B Corp certification has proven their ability to meet the highest standards for verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
When you buy from a B Corp, you’re buying from a company that has demonstrated positive impacts across all of their stakeholders – customers, workers, shareholders, communities in which they operate, and the planet.
How does a company become a B Corporation?
Their policies and procedures must meet B Lab’s rigorous standards, which is to achieve a minimum score of 80 on their social and environmental performance via the “B Impact Assessment”. For context, the median score for ordinary businesses is 50.9. This assessment is then reviewed and verified by a third party and then supported by company disclosures and documentation. Companies that are B Corp certified must also make a legal commitment to making a positive impact and considering all stakeholders, and their efforts must be transparent to both B Lab and the wider public. And while some certifications hold indefinitely, B Corp certification must be reassessed and recertified every other year to keep their label. This process costs around $500 for the company and ensures they’re maintaining their B Lab standards.
Who is B Lab?
B Lab is the global nonprofit organization that certifies B Corps and dedicates its efforts to transforming the global economy. B Lab has been around for more than 15 years, certifying companies who achieve the highest standards as well as lobbying for government policies that aim to drive systemic change at a larger level. An example of a lobbying effort is how B Lab advocates for states to adopt and improve benefit corporation laws, which acknowledge for-profit entities that make positive impacts on people and the planet. B Lab also partners with the United Nations to help translate their goals into practical business guidelines.
Notable B Corp Brands
While a vast majority of the 4,000 BCorps are smaller brands, there are still plenty of B Corps who have a recognizable household name, and some you can easily find on your next trip to the store.
- For cleaning your house: Seventh Generation
- For cleaning yourself: Dr. Bronner’s
- For your sweet tooth: Ben & Jerry’s, Tony’s Chocolonely
- For your dairy fix: Danone North America
- For your closet: Patagonia, Eileen Fisher
- For your feet: Bombas, Allbirds
- For your workout: Athleta
- For your cocktail: Maker’s Mark
One of the data inputs for Cluey’s People and Planet scores is derived from B Corp data. When Cluey’s founding team developed the methodology behind our People and Planet scores, they consulted with the world’s top experts, including former B Lab experts. Among other inputs, Cluey’s team determined B Corp data to be one of the best-in-class third-party sources for measuring corporate impacts. B Corp brands on Cluey, on average, are the highest performing brands.
Bailey Chenevert is a freelance journalist and guest editorial contributor for Cluey Consumer. As a current master’s student at Appalachian State University, Bailey is researching the ways media consumption impacts our psychology. Bailey is passionate about impartial reporting on consumerism and the impacts that fashion brands have on our modern world. She has more than six years of experience in journalism as a writer, editor and director.