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B Corp – It’s More Than Just a Certificate

What even is a B Corp?

B Corps think about business a little differently compared with more ‘traditional’ companies. Instead of maximizing profits at the expense of all other considerations, we do the opposite. Profit is only considered once all other responsibilities have been accounted for. It’s a new type of capitalism that balances a drive for profit with an altruistic mission. What this means is that a B Corp, through its legally-binding contract with B Impact, will not stash money in the bank if it’s at the expense of ecological devastation or through suffocating the welfare of its employees.

 

If you didn’t know already, every B Corp is assessed by B Impact’s Assessment every two years. It has to meet the latest rigorous standards or else it faces losing its B Corp certification. Don’t think these tests are easy. While ‘only’ 80 points out of a possible 200 guarantees B Corp status, a non-B Corp business averages only 50 points. It’s, therefore, no hyperbole to declare that B Corps are at the forefront of a whole new vision of capitalism that places the welfare of people and the planet above shareholder dividends.

 

We have lots of articles about B Corps. We’ve given plenty of examples of B Corps in niche industries making it big as well as all the steps that are needed to become one.

In this article, we’re going to talk specifically about each of the four critical areas a B Corp must prove its excellence. The test considers how a company impacts its workers, community, environment, and its governance. We’re going to explain exactly what this means. 

 

We’ll start by explaining what exactly the B Corp assessment looks for in these areas, as well as giving an example of a B Corp that’s considered outstanding in each of these four critical sectors

patagonia-b-corp-assesment-report
This is an example of a B Impact report for Patagonia

Caring for Workers

One of the most important ways that differentiate a B Corp from a standard business is through its responsibilities to its workers. As we showcased in our article, The Great Resignation, employees are no longer tolerating hideous working conditions, poor pay, and working for a company that considers the planet and its community as mere afterthoughts.

 

B Corps are passionate about treating everyone with dignity and respect. Not only is this a moral thing to do but studies have shown that employees work harder when working for a morally good company with retention also less of a problem for us B Corps – something traditional companies ought to consider when threatened by the Great Resignation.

So, what does the B Impact Assessment look for when it determines the quality of employee welfare when a company takes the test, or when it’s time for an existing B Corp to be reassessed? It’s a good question and there are lots of ways a B Corp has to prove its workers are unique humans rather than mere cogs in a machine.

 

One of the ways B Corps are assessed is through employee work time. How many hours they are contracted to work in a week, as well as the holiday time they are granted to help every employee balance their work with personal time off.

 

While holiday time is a guarantee in many countries, there are further considerations a B Corp si it can prove it goes the extra mile for its employees. For instance, another potential question prospective B Corps may face is: “What % of full-time workers were reimbursed for continuing education opportunities in the last fiscal year?” If the answer is below 5%, the B Corp can lose marks and thus have its certification threatened.

 

These are just a couple of the potential questions that the Assessment may ask in this section.

 

 

One business that received an ‘outstanding’ for its contributions to employee welfare is a fellow Californian B Corp, Camp. Camp is a sustainable media company providing creative and production services to progressive corporations. They received 48.8 points in the employee section of the test – pretty impressive when the entire median score for a standard company is 50.9!

 

When we hear stories about big businesses slashing hours and paying poverty wages,

Camp is paving the way for how a business can offer exceptional benefits to its employees while still being able to grow and make a profit.

group-of-construction-workers-climbing-up
Reaching the summit is a realistic goal for every B Corp employee

Community

Workers’ rights is something we know every business has to consider. We are well aware of what businesses ought to do to protect the lives and prosperity of everyone who works for their company.

 

Something that’s a little less talked about when we consider the responsibilities of a business is how they help the community around them prosper. Of course, none of us want to see corporations pollute our rivers or kill off independent businesses in our towns. Sometimes we can draw a blank when considering the things that we do want businesses to do for our communities.

 

One area that the B Impact Assessment considers in the Community part of the test is diversity. It’s true that all companies have to consider people from all backgrounds for their employees but this should hardly be given a pat on the back if the positions granted to minorities or women are low-entry jobs with little hopes of progression. That’s why for the B Corp assessment, a company is tested on the percentage of management positions that are made up of those from underrepresented populations. Giving everyone the opportunity not just at employment but having clear career development is something that every B Corps pride themselves on.

 

Another example of community care every potential B Corp has to consider when aspiring for certification is giving employees the opportunity to be given time away from their employment responsibilities to volunteer in areas of their community. One question could be: “Are full-time employees explicitly allowed any of the following paid or non-paid time-off hours options for community service?” Here at DGW Branded, 20% of employee hours are dedicated towards volunteer work of their choice. We think this is essential in having a rapport with the communities in which we work, as well as giving our employees a chance to connect with those from different backgrounds.

group-of-people-intertwined-together
A world of good can literally be achieved through the B Corp philosophy

Environment

These days it seems like every business is doing their best to protect the environment, right? It seems like we’re inundated with advertisements declaring the latest company that’s promising to go carbon-neutral or yet another business is stating its desire to reduce waste and to avoid plastic when possible. This begs the question, what are B Corps doing that’s going beyond what these regular businesses are doing?

 

The first thing to point out is that not every business is doing its fair share for the environment. Second, even if a business is promising this or that to be met in five years’ time, that shouldn’t mean they should be let off the hook for their actions today.

 

That’s why the Environmental report in the B Impact assessment is so critical – both for the prospective B Corp and the planet. There are four considerations in the Environmental Section of the assessment – Environmental Management, Air & Climate, Water, and Land and Life. 

 

One company that surpassed B Impact’s environmental targets is Oliberte Shoes. This company helps create fairly manufactured goods in sub-Saharan Africa. Even though the company passed their B Corp assessment at the first time of asking, they didn’t stop there in the pursuit of total ecological sustainability. Owner Tal Dehtiar, says, “We found that the biggest gaps in our results were in the Environment section.” Since it took its first B Corp assessment, Oliberte Shoes has made a commitment to donate 1% of profits to environmental causes through 1% for the Planet. We love seeing fellow B Corps continue to set ever higher standards for themselves based on their Impact results.

save-planet-earth
One B Corp can’t change the world but together we can save our planet

Governance

The last of the four B Impact Assessments’ critical areas is arguably the one that attracts the most curiosity to those who are interested in joining the movement. After all, we all know the importance of treating workers with respect and needing to be as ecologically responsible as we can goes without saying. But governance? What exactly does that involve and how can a business be assessed for such things?

 

The importance of governance for a B Corp is all about being transparent with business operations. How management is evaluated and how a business shares its financial information with its employees and the wider public.

 

An example question a business might face in the B Impact Assessment is: “What portion of your management is evaluated in writing on their performance with regard to corporate social and environmental targets?” It’s only by committing to being as transparent as possible that a business is able to gain B Corp status.

sun-ray-coming-through-earth
Being bright examples for how business can operate is another reason we love our fellow B Corps

The Last Word

So why be a B Corp? We must admit that after looking in detail at these four main criterias it’s not exactly a walk in the park to become one. And let’s not forget; this assessment is constantly adapting to meet the latest expectations of what a company can be and every B Corp has to pass the latest assessment every two years or loses its certification.

 

However great the challenges placed on a B Corp it’s only through these regulations that we can achieve a greater tomorrow we all hope for the next generation. The question isn’t whether can businesses afford to become a B Corp, rather can we afford to not be a  Corp?

About DGW Branded

As a B Corp, DGW Branded takes pride in thinking beyond profit. We want to see the world as green as possible, with everyone treated to respect. That’s why we write articles such as this one. 


Furthermore, we hire those from the foster care system to help pack our orders. To find out more about our workforce program, please visit this section of our website.


While we hope we’ve clarified some of the roles and responsibilities of each section of the B Corp movement, we’re always willing to help other businesses succeed in their societal and environmental responsibilities, please leave a comment if you have any questions. For your business needs, you can also speak to one of our experts to find out how DGW Branded can provide you with custom items for promo and staff needs.

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