February is B Corp month, but what does that mean, and what exactly is a B Corp? We’ve broken it down so you can find out all about a new breed of companies working for more than profit – Simply Business included.
The B in B Corp is open to interpretation. It was originally derived from “benefit corporation”, a type of US corporate structure, but B Corp means many things to many people.
We spoke to Kate Sandle, Community Manager for B Corp UK, whose favourite interpretation of B Corp comes from Ghandi – “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
She also likes that the B can mean “better” – so “better corporation” – which is what companies with B Corp status are aiming to be.
So what does that mean in practice? Well, B Corp certified companies strive not only for profits, but but for the betterment of the world around them. This includes their employees and their customers, as well as society at large and the environment – both locally and globally.
B Corps are transparent about their operating practices and are held to a high standard of legal accountability. Companies have to be recertified every two years, and if they fail to meet the set criteria, they lose their B Corp status. Not only that, but the criteria are dynamic, making sure that B Corps are always moving with the times and are on the cutting edge of what “good” looks like in the current world.
In order to become B Corp certified, you have to be assessed by B Lab and meet the required standards. There are three steps to the process:
Any for-profit business can become a B Corp, no matter its size, so long as it’s been operating for at least 12 months.
If your business is brand new but you want to demonstrate your commitment to society and the environment, you can earn B Corp Pending status.
The B Impact Assessment requires data from the last 12 months, so you’ll have to wait until you’re a year old for full status. But, in the meantime, you can demonstrate your commitment to being a socially responsible business and engage as a “soon-to-B” peer with a community of more than 1,000 Certified B Corps.
Inc. called B Corp status “the highest standard for socially responsible businesses”. It is to businesses what Fair Trade is to coffee.
It demonstrates to the world around you – your stakeholders, your employees, your customers, and everyone else – that you’re committed to being a force for good in the world.
But as well as demonstrating your commitment, you also get access to a whole wealth of information and new opportunities. B Corps are put in touch with one another and are able to share knowledge and build on each others’ successes.
Kate says the best opportunity for B Corps to meet, share ideas and best practice, and to learn from fellow innovators is at the annual UK retreat. As well as incredible conversations, last year’s retreat involved wild swimming, running, yoga and meditation – great ways to bond.
With February as B Corp month, it gives B Corps the opportunity to talk about what makes them a B Corp, and the incredible and innovative policies and practices that they have, but often don’t get to shout about.
Simply Business received it’s B Corp accreditation in 2017, and we couldn't be prouder.
The accreditation recognises our strong track record of having a positive impact on people, society and the environment – and our commitment to do more in future.
Whether it’s giving back to the community through charity fundraising, or our dedicated team of people working out how we can minimise our impact on the environment – in ways both big and small – we’re driven to find new ways to support our workers, help others, and help preserve our world.
You can read more about our efforts over at our social impact page.
“Simply Business was a great company to work with – and for such a large organisation we expected the process to take longer than 3 months.” said Kate. “It just shows that if you are already measuring your impact on your people and the planet, then the certification process doesn’t have to take that long!
“We are pleased to have such a committed business join our community, and they're already great ambassadors of the B Corp movement.”
Are you considering becoming a B Corp? Great! Tell us about your journey so far in the comments section below.
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