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B Corps: Using Business as a Force for Good

Each of us has the opportunity to vote with our dollar in every purchase decision we make; with every company we work for or choose to do business with. And today, it is more critical than ever to support the companies that put your health and the planet ahead of short-term profit. That’s why we’re eager to talk about B Corporations.

B Corps are companies that meet a rigorous set of standards to prove the positive impact of the company on its workers, customers, community, and environment. You can think of the B Corp Certification as a brand label that identifies those that are “accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.” Ultimately, they “envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.”

There are now more than 3,400 B Corps across 150 industries in 71 countries. So, before you make your next purchase or job search, maybe you’ll consider browsing the directory of B Corps to find one that aligns with your values and needs.

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What Is a B Corp?

A Certified B Corporation has three core components: verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. The B Corporation Certification is the only certification that measures a company’s social and environmental performance, and it is administered by the non-profit B Lab.

Each company must also do the following to earn their certification:

  • Achieve a minimum verified score on the B Impact Assessment – “a rigorous assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, customers, community and environment”
  • Make their B Impact Report transparent on bcorporation.net
  • Amend their legal governing documents to require their board of directors to balance profit and purpose

The B Corp movement started in 2006 when three friends left their careers in business and private equity to create an organization that would make it easier for mission-driven companies to protect and improve their positive impact over time.

The founders believe that society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. Individuals and for-profit companies can reduce inequality and improve poverty levels, create a healthier environment, form stronger communities, and create high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose.

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The B Economy

You may be surprised to learn that some of the largest brands are Certified B Corporations. Ben and Jerry’s, Eileen Fisher, Klean Kanteen, Stonyfield Organic, Kickstarter, and New Belgium Brewing have all committed to the Declaration of Interdependence. But there are also indie brands with a much smaller footprint earning the same stamp of approval. 

This certification standard has created the opportunity for a new economy in which, “businesses compete to be best for the world, the people living in it, and the natural environment on which our quality of life depends…. [It is] built by everyone who works for, buys from, invests in, learns or teaches about, or supports businesses striving to create a shared and durable prosperity for all.”

A study by Cone Communications found that 56 percent of all U.S. workers – and 62 percent of millennials – would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. It is becoming more common to seek employment opportunities with companies who have strong values.

In turn, companies with a B Corp certification inspire happier, more productive employees. The very nature of today’s workplace is evolving and there is an important opportunity for businesses to shape a values-driven, transparent environment. Researchers at UCLA have found that employees at businesses with “green” practices and standards are, on average, 16 percent more productive.

Authors Ben Cohen and Mal Warwick explore the link between engagement and productivity in their book Values-Driven Business writing, “Employees work more productively and pay more attention to a company’s profitability when they’re working for something they believe in, are treated with respect, are well paid, and receive a share of the profits. They also tend to feel better if the owner or top managers aren’t making out like bandits by comparison.”

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