Confessions of a B-Corp Wanna B!
If the very core of your business purpose is to create social change like ours is, B-Corp Certification provides the litmus test to make sure you’re truly walking the talk.
So, what is B-Corp anyways?
Put simply, it’s a collective of determined organizations that use the power of business to solve social and environmental challenges. It provides a set of guidelines and criteria that companies can use to ensure they are operating with ALL our stakeholders in mind, while building a positive culture and work environment, operating with transparency and creating legitimate social benefit.
Sounds kind of worthwhile don’t you think?
We sure do. B-Corporation’s criteria are so beautifully aligned with who we are, that we set out earlier this year to get our own certification.
It’s no easy task to become B-Corp Certified, which is why it’s worth getting!
According to the B-Corp website, B Corporations are measured using the B Impact Assessment. The assessment looks at a corporation’s performance within areas like environment, community, employees, governance, accountability, and more. A corporation needs to achieve a combined score of 80/200 in order to become B-Corp Certified. That’s no small feat.
Here are 5 tips to help you on the road to B-Corp Certification
1. Make it a priority
Like anything worth doing, you need to commit resources and time to be successful. In our case, we hired a great person to focus on our certification as a real project with deadlines and tasks. Alex Burke is in her final year of study in the Retail Management Bachelor of Commerce program at Ryerson University and is leading our certification project. Once complete, she will report back to the Ryerson Corporate Social Responsibility Student Association where she will share what she has learned with other students looking to help businesses consider their social and environmental impact.
2. Get the lay of the land
Do a brief audit of your organization’s practices in order to determine a starting point. You might be pleasantly surprised how well you are already doing. Download the assessment and become familiar with this useful tool. It will help you discover the low hanging fruit. These are areas where you might be missing out on points that can easily be gained with a slight correction to your process. (It might be as simple as having a process in writing, or simply establishing a way to track and demonstrate the validity of your responses).
“My advice for businesses looking to become a B Corp, or for other interns who are completing the assessment on behalf of a business,” says Alex, “would be to start by looking at where you can earn the most points. In the short term, focus on things internal to the company, like corporate culture and giving back to the community. Environmental targets are often more difficult to implement, so focus on setting annual targets to increase your score once you have received certification.”
3. Consolidate your best practices
We created a Comprehensive Employee Handbook that outlines our entire business, rather than building individual policies in isolation. This handbook serves as a home for all of our policies and guidelines and allows us to add sections for each item that required documentation as we went through the process.
4. Turns out it’s a chance to do even more!
B-Corp is a robust and meaningful certification, but remember, it’s an Amercian Standard. As such, it does not include all Canadian Federal and Provincial regulations and best practices as a requirement. For example, AODA standards, and Health and Safety Standards. Going through the certification process is a good opportunity to get these important elements in place as well.
5. Take full advantage of the resources at hand
Part of B-Corp certification is access to B-Lab, a resource-rich offering. Alex, was able to attend seminars and was able to read up on all the information the lab makes available so she was able to tackle the project from an informed point of view.
A final word from Alex Burke
“I became interested in B Corps because the certification includes a set of targets and standards that is applicable to any business. The certification pushes companies to continue implementing change and giving back to all stakeholders. The B Impact Assessment provides a holistic approach to the triple bottom line, as it focuses not only on social and environmental sustainability, but also the wellbeing and happiness of employees and the community.”
So where have we ended up?
The news is good! Our application is on the way, and we expect to receive our certification by the end of 2016.
This has been an eye-opening and important experience for our organization. If you’d like to learn more, call Shelley Mayer at 416-778-7770, extension 240.