How (And Why) to Become a B Corporation

As one of the thousands of certified B Corporations in America today, Greyston Bakery’s mission is simple.

“We don’t hire people to bake brownies,” they say, “We bake brownies to hire people.”

B Corporations are for-profit companies, certified by a nonprofit called B Lab. In order to earn the certification, companies must achieve an 80/200 score on B Lab’s assessment, which is split into four parts — Governance, Workers, Community, and Environment. The company must be able to show how it practices transparent business, looks after its employees, helps make its community a better place, and actively tries to preserve the environment.

Once certified, companies can put the B stamp on their products, showing customers that they’ve been shown to be ethical and sustainable.

B Corporations aren’t non-profits—they are not dependent on donations. They’re for-profit enterprises, built on the model of social enterprise, changing the world through the way they run businesses.

Let’s look back at the history of the B Corporation to see how this model emerged; then we’ll talk about how the certification process works and how to get started.

A Short History of the B Corporation Movement

The growing wave of companies certifying as B Corporations has been labeled “a movement.” Like many political movements, the B Corp revolution got started on the ground. It was actually founded by the creators of an apparel brand.

Benefit Corporation or B Corporation?

Incorporating as a benefit corporation means legally designating your company, much like an LLC or a C Corp. The legal designation states your company is a for-profit entity and publishing a report of social and environmental performance—but the performance is self-reported.

Many companies complete this legal step without certifying as a B Corp through B Lab, but getting the certification is super valuable — it shows that you’ve passed a rigorous third party assessment. It also connects you to the B Corp community (read on to see the particular advantages this can offer your business).

We’re going to focus on getting certified as a B Corp — it’s the one that actually combs through your organization and validates your values.

What Does it Mean To Be A B Corp?

To become a B Corp, a company has to complete an assessment of its governance, how it treats employees, its environmental impact, and its effect on the local community. The assessment favors companies that practice fair, inclusive employment, are environmentally and socially minded, and transparent in the way they conduct business.

When you become a B Corp, you also opt into this declaration:

Source: B Corp website

Practically, certification means you get to put the B Corp stamp on your products and brand materials. It tells customers and shareholders they can trust your practices and it puts you in a community of forward-thinking companies adapting to a more socially conscious business world.

How to Become a B Corporation

If you want to become a B Corp, here’s how to make happen:

Visit B Lab’s website to get your certification started.

Three Advantages of Becoming a B Corp

Going through the certification process and getting your B Corp stamp could make your brand much richer, in several senses of the word.

  1. Make your values official for customers and shareholders It’s easy to make a slide or a packaging blurb listing out philanthropic adjectives to attach them to your brand, but the B Corp stamp is the real, third-party proof. Your company will join other innovative companies who have made this vow and are leading the change, like Method, Etsy and Warby Parker. The certification speaks a thousand words to customers, shareholders and other potential partners, because it makes your commitment in social good tangible.
  2. Hire passion-aligned (and talented) people Talented young professionals are actively searching for ethical and socially active companies in their job searches, and 91% of Millennialshave preferences for brands associated with a cause. As a B Corp, you’ll attract these candidates who already have a level of social engagement or interest. Value alignment is crucial for employee retention, helping keep churn healthier, especially since B Corps are known for better treatment of workers.
  3. Put a fire under your collaboration If you’ve been meaning to connect with like-minded brands, becoming a B Corp will push that along. The B Corp community is vibrant. You can connect with other B Corps through the “Find a B Corp” feature or through networking events, or share out your news via the B Corp blog or through B the Change, B Corp’s media company.

Where Will the B Corp Stamp Go From Here?

The world of B Corporations is growing fast. Since getting B Corps set up across the globe, the next stage of growth for the community is increased familiarity with customers. As more (and bigger) companies across the world become B Corps, people will soon know the difference, and you want to be on the right side of that judgment.