Always Do (B)etter: B Corps and the Continual Strive for Improvement

 

If you’re an avid reader of our articles (first off, you’re the best!) it wouldn’t have taken you long to come to some conclusions. We’re sure by now you’re aware that DGW Branded is a B Corp and we’re pretty big fans of the movement. We’ve written pieces such as B Corps, More Than You Might Think, and Should Every Business Be a B Corp? that go into depth about how B Corps are transforming the business world.  

 

If you’re not an avid reader of our articles (boo, hiss) we’ll quickly run you through the basics of what a B Corp actually is. The most important differentiator between a B Corp and a traditional company is that we’re held fully accountable for how our business affects each facet of our operations. Our community standards, employee welfare, our responsibleness to the planet, and the transparency of our governance are all assessed by B Impact. This independent review is mandatory every two years for every B Corp. Fail to achieve the minimum of 80 points and guess what? You’re no longer B Corp certified. It sounds harsh, but it’s the only way we can guarantee every B Corp certified product and service is proven to offer the highest ethical standards both inside the business and for the outside world. Consumers who see a certified B Corp product or service, therefore, can make the purchase knowing it’s from a business that genuinely cares. 

 

 

Even with (or perhaps, because of) the standards of excellence that are required for B Corps, the movement continues to flourish. Since the first B Corp back in 2007, the rates of growth have been both really exciting to see and gives us true optimism about what a more social form of capitalism can look like. 

 

 

That been said, it goes against the B Corp ideology to sit back and say everything is fine. It’s only because we want to see continual improvement for the betterment of society that’s why we’re here in the first place. As we look forward (or with nail-biting fear) to 2022, we’re going to look at three key areas that B Corps can do to gain new members, and maximize the good that we’re doing. 

 

A B isn't an A+

We finished the introduction by stating that resting on our laurels goes against the B Corp philosophy yet we begin our list of five ways the B Corporation can improve in 2022 by moaning about B Corps… resting on their laurels. Hear us out. While wanting to do the best we can is always a part of our DNA with all the other aspects of a business to figure out (especially in these unprecedented times) maximizing the good we do isn’t always easy. 

 

When looking at the graph (see below) The overall B Impact rating of companies has been steadily decreasing over the past few years. A concerning trend as we head into 2022 is seeing organizations doing the bare minimum (earning just over 80 points rather than pushing for triple digits) in order to quickly achieve B Corp certification. 

What can be done?

We don’t claim to necessarily have the perfect solution to the problems we consider in this article, we’re just offering our thoughts and opinions. If there’s something you consider would be a better way to maximize the positive impact B Corps can have, please let us know in the comments below! 

 

Now that that disclaimer has been said, what can be done about the problem of B Corps taking the easy route and content with 80 points in the B Impact assessment rather than gunning for as many of the 200 points as possible? 

 

In our humble opinion, the B Corps that are ‘only’ reaching roughly 80 points (we say only because the average non-B Corp business is 50 points) are perhaps doing so less for altruistic reasons but because being a B Corp has great marketing potential. With statistics such as “71% of Americans making the environmental impact of their purchase a key factor in their decision making on whether to buy or not an item,” it’s evident that positioning your company as one that does good can be a profitable one. Don’t get us wrong. We’re not knocking this strategy. There are lots of great reasons to become a B Corp and thinking about profit isn’t a bad thing, after all, it’s the best chance we have of attracting businesses to our movement. 

 

If it’s marketing that is attracting these businesses to the B Corp movement, how about giving them what they ask for? One idea is for B Labs to heavily promote the businesses that are scoring over 100 points and feature these exceptional standards in their advertising. There’s even talk about ‘gold certified’ B Corps. A business could have a special gold-embossed certificate on their products to show that they are the best of the best when it comes to ethical business practices. 

Being dedicated on achieving our social goals will ensure a better future for us all

Come Together

We’ve spoken about B Corps that work together in the past. In our article, The Power of United B Corps, we talked about the ‘snowball effect of greatness’ that can occur when B Corps unite with partnerships and collaborations rather than pick an established traditional company that might not care about protecting the planet, or supporting communities in the same way. Before continuing with this article, you may wish to stop and read more about the numerous benefits alliances between B Corps can have on their individual businesses and for the wider community.

 

In that article, we did give some examples of B Corps who have worked together to accomplish their business goals and achieve societal good. Luke’s Lobsters, for instance, teamed up with B Corps as their sustainability projects correlated with the needs of its business. 

 

That being said, we don’t think it’s something that happens enough. As a B Corp, we’re not sure if everything has been done to facilitate relationships between B Corps to help take on less ethical businesses and use each other’s strengths to maximize the good that’s possible.

How can we help?

There are a sprinkling of light changes that can have a great impact on the number of B Corp collaborations. Simple things like promoting the reasons why it’s such a good idea (make sure you share our article!) can inspire B Corps to unite. 

 

Furthermore, the website B The Change, while it does a great job of promoting positive B Corp stories, could again shine a light on these collaborations so we can see more B Corps coming together in solidarity. 

 

There are more forcing changes we can ask for to help B Corps grow in partnership with each other. One of the most impactful ways we can see these collaborations grow is if it becomes a part of the B Impact assessment. Imagine if a fifth criterion was added; community, governance, environment, workers, and partnerships? The idea will not be without detractors and we understand the arguments of both sides but it’s certainly something we can consider as we go into the new year. What do you think of adding a partnership rating to the B Impact assessment? Let us know in the comments!

Luke’s Lobsters has shown that B Corps working together can create the winning dish

A World of Opportunities

 

This last one might be a bit more obvious than the previous couple. What do we want to see in 2022? More growth, stupid! Of course, every movement wants to grow but it’s when we look at specifics from the B Corp organization where we want to see the most change when looking at growth. 

 

The number of B Corps out there certainly isn’t cause for concern and no drastic changes are needed – it’s not like the numbers are falling and we’re lurching from one crisis to another. In fact, we’re seeing more businesses become B Corps than at any other time in our history. So what exactly is the problem we hear you ask? Well, it’s not so much an issue as a way to do even better. There are now more than 4,000 B Corps in 77 countries. Considering it’s still a pretty new movement it’s amazing to see this growth and staggering when we consider the collective power these organizations are having to create a more equitable world. 

 

That being said, there are some caveats to these breathtaking figures. For one, while the number of countries with B Corps is high (and ever-growing) the vast majority of B Corps are still here in the USA. While there are lots of operating B Corp countries, there are quite a few with less than ten, skewing the figures into misconceptions about the equal spread of the movement. 

 

Another area of improvement is the depth of industries that feature B Corp certified businesses. Again, the numbers paint a happy picture: there are 150 industries that have at least one B Corp business. Sadly, the numbers slightly deceive the truth. A number of industries only have one or two B Corps in the movement. What we need to do is increase the number of overseas B Corps and promote how every industry can feature B Corps. 

 

What can be done?

For starters, more awareness of the B Corp movement needs to be ingrained with communities around the world. While it’s becoming something of a household name in the States, in Europe when the average consumer is asked, “whats’ your favorite B Corp?” The most common response is still, “err… what’s a B Corp?” This has to be changed. Something we can do as B Corp members is to promote the advantages of joining the movement to those whom we trade with. If you’ve got a supplier in France that aligns with how we do business, tell them what the B Corp movement is all about. Better yet, send them a link to our B Corp pillar page! It’s a great way of spreading the message without having to compete with the major companies when it comes to marketing budgets. 

 

While we included B Corp expansion into new countries and more industries, we’re not knocking the incredible growth – we just want to see the maximum good that’s possible as soon as we can! 

A final note

DGW Branded is proud to be a B Corp. Overall, we’re delighted with the progress the movement has made, the world of good that we’re collectively able to achieve, and the lives that are being transformed thanks to every one of us. This article wasn’t written to moan and groan but out of a love for the movement and the desire to see its impact maximized across the globe. It’s only through constantly assessing our performance and finding intrinsic improvements will we be able to truly shape the future of business.

 

DGW Branded takes pride in going the extra mile for the planet, as well as our work in the community. What you may not know is 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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