3 reasons B Corp Certification is good for business
Certified B Corporations benefit all stakeholders, not just shareholders
In the past, companies were generally divided into two types: for-profit and nonprofit. For-profit companies prioritized the bottom line, while nonprofit organizations served the greater good. Today, a relatively new business structure allows companies to blend the two models into one. Certified B Corporations, also known as B Corps, are for-profit companies that are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on both people and the planet.
As of September 2020, more than 3,500 companies representing 150 industries and 74 countries are B Corps. This includes some of the world’s most recognizable brands, such as Ben & Jerry’s, Hootsuite, Patagonia and New Belgium Brewing. But a number of smaller companies have earned their certification as well. Gunnison-based consulting firm Zen for Business became a B Corp in February 2019, for example, and Chook Charcoal Chicken, which has two locations in Denver, earned its certification in June 2020.
Becoming a B Corp isn’t easy. The rigorous process starts with completing an assessment that measures the company’s performance in five areas: governance, workers, customers, community and the environment. Questions focus on everything from diversity within the company’s leadership team to disclosure of financial information with employees to the monitoring and recording of universal waste production.
In other words, it’s not just about how a company treats its employees or where it sources its materials. It’s about the business as a whole. It’s about operating in a socially, ethically and environmentally responsible manner.
Companies that score high enough on the assessment, meet the legal requirements and complete the multistep verification process are eligible to become Certified B Corporations. The entire process can take months or even years, but it’s well worth the effort. Here are three reasons why becoming a B Corp is good for business.
1. Employees are looking for purpose.
Study after study shows that the younger generations want a job with a purpose. They don’t want to earn a fat paycheck so they can save up for a big house or fancy vacation; they want a meaningful role with a company that has clear values and a strong social mission.
By being transparent about and committed to its values, B Corps attract employees that share their vision and mission. It’s a win-win arrangement for employees and employers: Studies also have shown that employees who feel they have a purpose at work are more engaged, more productive and, ultimately, more successful.
2. Customers are looking for integrity.
Long gone are the days when profit was the sole driver of a business. Today’s customers are looking for companies that act responsibly, practice transparency and support sustainability. By balancing purpose and profit, B Corps signify their commitment to building a more inclusive and sustainable global economy.
This commitment trickles down to the company’s partners. Companies can no longer feign ignorance when it comes to dishonest practices of its vendors or suppliers. B Corps carefully research the financials, policies and procedures of all the companies they work with to ensure they’re meeting the same high standards of social and environmental responsibility.
3. Communities are looking for support.
Businesses are the lifeblood of a community—and communities are the lifeblood of a business. Companies depend on their communities for employees and customers while communities depend on companies for products and services.
B Corps value this vital relationship and give back to the community through donations, volunteer work and partnerships. Many organize community service days for their employees or establish employee giving funds. These efforts not only help communities, but also further engage employees and drive support for the organization.
Becoming a Certified B Corporation is more than a bragging point. It’s more than an impressive accomplishment. It’s a true commitment to redefining success and using business as a force for good.
Thomas Holland is the CEO of APEX Surface Care, a 23-year-old Certified B Corporation® and national specialty surface care company. In 2020, APEX launched its Community Giveback Program to provide pro bono cleaning and disinfecting services to select nonprofits, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. For more information, go to www.apex.com.