How to become a B Corp business

Hands on a tree trunk

B Corporation-certified organisations place purpose and social responsibility as high on the agenda as profit. What’s more, B Corp companies can evidence at any given time exactly how they’re doing so. And this movement of using business as a force for good is more than a passing fad. Amid increasing pressure to look far beyond simply making money — and instead consider businesses’ impact on people, communities and the planet — meeting the highest of standards in social and environmental performance is now crucial.

Here, we explore exactly what it means to be B Corp certified and outline the rigorous assessment process, and steps to take, to achieve B Corp status.

What is a B Corp?

B Corporations, or B Corps, are businesses that have gone through stringent assessments by nonprofit network B Lab, and are recognised to achieve high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. The standards are set intentionally high, as B Lab strives to make changes in our economic system to benefit all people, communities and the planet.

B Corp certification highlights those who are leading the way in the vision for an ‘inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.’ B Corp companies have demonstrated they go over and above in a vast range of factors, including employee benefits, company ethics and supply chain practices. To maintain B Corp status, businesses must recertify every three years.

A look at the benefits of becoming a B Corp business

The B Corp-certification process isn’t a quick or simple one, and rightfully so. This recognition is a public exclamation: a business meets rigorous criteria and is prepared to be held accountable – you cannot simply state yours is a business that’s ‘doing good’.

The journey to B Corp can vary depending on a company’s size and complexity. B Lab explains that, for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it can take up to eight months, while large multinationals can expect to wait longer. But the benefits of B Corp certification, and evidencing how your business positively impacts staff, customers, suppliers, community, governance and the environment, are vast:

Support the movement. You’ll play a big role in demonstrating how business can be a part of the solution – and not the problem. Become B Corp certified and your company joins a global roster of like-minded changemakers, all using business as a force for good. You’ll be part of a community of more than 6,800 B Corps around the world, across 161 industries in 89 countries.

Demonstrate credibility. In turn, your business will build loyalty, as you show your customers and prospects you’re verified as meeting the highest standards in social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. In short, you care – about the impact your business has, and about driving change.

Differentiate from competitors. Stand out in a crowded marketplace for the right reasons. Conscious customers – and employees – are increasingly concerned about sustainability drives and ethics. Following a 2021 survey, which collated data from 102 respondents, B Lab UK found that B Corps out-perform their UK peers in many business metrics. B Corp SMEs (compared to other SMEs) were found to experience, for example, a faster annual growth in turnover, greater levels of employee retention, engagement and diversity, and higher levels of innovation. Find out more about the findings – download the research summary.

Initiate business development opportunities. B Corp certification is a fantastic marketing tool. You’ll network and collaborate with other B Corps in finding solutions to challenges. These partnerships are destined for success because of aligned values and a shared mission to do good. Naturally, when looking to do business, a B Corp will seek out other certified companies first.

Attract and retain talent. Priorities among job seekers are known to be shifting. Social responsibility, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing are high on the wish list, and a company confirmed to positively affect its people is an attractive prospect. As a result, your workforce will be made up of driven employees who share the same values – and, importantly, feel valued themselves.

How to become a B Corp

A company can work toward B Corp certification if it operates for profit in a competitive market, and has been in business a minimum of 12 months. You’ll follow a three-step process: 

  1. The B Corp process begins with the completion of the B Impact Assessment (BIA) – a tool to measure and manage the positive impact of a company in areas of governance, workers, community, customers and the environment. Among other factors, the BIA evaluates your organisation’s mission and engagement, how you treat your employees, and how your company benefits the communities it works with. Plus, you’ll be assessed on your environmental practices, including recycling systems, and water and energy usage
  2. BIA certified, your firm then has to meet the B Corp legal requirement, which, according to LAB, is designed to ‘provide a legal basis to allow directors to consider the interests of all stakeholders, not just shareholders, when making important decisions.’ 
  3. Finally, for full certification, the B Corp Agreement and the Declaration of Interdependence must be signed. 

While it might be a long and costly journey, navigating the challenging process to achieve B Corp status offers incredible opportunity in the long term. It’s a public – and verified – declaration that your company is wholeheartedly committed to its people, communities and the planet. The B Corp certification attests to the fact a company takes its ethical responsibilities seriously and is determined to make positive change – key drivers for investors, prospects and employees alike.

Thinking about applying for B Corp certification for your business? In the first instance, you need to be sure you’ve considered exactly how you’re meeting all the requirements for assessment – and is there room for improvement? Tidy Planet is home to the Rocket composter and other food waste reduction products, as well as energy from waste systems. To find out how we can boost your chances of becoming a certified B Corp, contact the team.