How to go through the B Corporation process

Getting a B Corporation Certification is a rigorous process and I keep getting asked about our experience, so I wanted to share some insight on a wider scale. This is a blog on how we moved through the process. 

By Mandy Barker, Founder

What is a B Corp?
B Corps are companies that voluntarily meet the highest standards for social and environmental impact. B Lab, founders of the B Corp movement are looking to transform the global economy, one that benefits everyone, our communities, and the planet. There are now over 4,600 B Corps in 78 countries and covering 155 industries. 640 of them are in the UK (and growing). Find out more here.

Who is B Corp for?
People, business, communities that exist to make change, that exist as a force for good. 

What do you do to become a B Corp?
It is a rigorous process and we keep getting asked about our experience, so we wanted to share insight of our experience.

Sail have always stood for purpose but knew evidencing this (as we know many words can be smoke and mirrors to actual actions) brings further accountability and impact internally and externally, which is why we wanted to go through the process.

THE PROCESS: B Corporation Impact Assessment
The B Corporation Impact Assessment (BIA) is a tool that a business has to complete to start certification. It is free to use. It is also worth using for those that do not intend to go through the full process, as it is a free way to measure your impact and act as a benchmark internally. You can set goals and download improvement reports which creates an impact roadmap for improved performance.

To certify as a B Corporation, a business must have been in operation for one year, although you can go through a process as a start up to prepare for certification.

You must earn at least 80 points out of 200 on impact assessment across five key areas. Even though that’s less than 50%, it is a very comprehensive and intensive process. You start by doing the first impact assessment (in which we scored 127 points). As it goes through different advisors at B Lab, it gets knocked down if you are unable to provide the exact evidence they ask for (which is sometimes tricky as a small business).

The assessment looks at your day-day operations, your business model, what you do and how you do it. The questions you get are determined based on your sector, business size and market. The time it takes to complete the assessment will be based on your size and the complexity of what you do.

I personally found the user interface quite overwhelming to navigate, as you have to bookmark things you can’t yet answer, then set goals etc. So before you fill it in I would recommend putting time aside to get to know the system.

The impact assessment covers five areas and each includes multiple areas of focus and questions:

  • Governance: Learn what your company can do to enhance policies and practices pertaining to its mission, ethics, accountability and transparency.
  • Community: Learn what your company can do to contribute to the economic and social well-being of the communities in which it operates.
  • Workers: Learn what your company can do to contribute to your employees’ financial, physical, professional, and social well-being.
  • Customers: Learn what your company can do to improve the value that you create for your direct customers and the consumers of your products or services.
  • Environment: Learn what your company can do to improve its overall environmental stewardship.

I would recommend to go to the assessment pre prepared with (not limited to) the following information:

  • Your brand mission, vision, purpose and values
  • Info on your team, salaries, benefits and review process
  • Your latest accounts information
  • Break down of revenue from various products/services
  • Profit and loss statement
  • Information on your customers and their impact
  • Supplier information from core contractors
  • Any policies that already exist around the impact areas

It is a very time consuming process as a small business. We were going through the process for nearly a year and a half and we had support from a B Leader Kate Chapman who guided us through the process. Even though it is intensive, it’s a very insightful and reflective process with many learnings and benchmarks for improvement. Distribute each impact area to different people in your team if you can as this will make the process focussed and efficient.

Once you’ve completed the assessment, you go through an assessment review, where an analyst will look at your submission. You will have to go through numerous calls to provide further information and evidence on specific areas that need clarification, you may also get asked to provide evidence from customers and impact of your work on end beneficiaries. When they ask for evidence you may be able to use pre-existing templates supplied by B Lab.

You will also have to provide documentation including changing your Articles of Association on companies house.

Process in brief

  • Do your research and know why you want the accreditation, share this with your team
  • Get to know the BIA user interface, make a plan before you start
  • Make sure you have your policies and useful information to hand
  • Think about whether you can make it a team project, delegate and conquer!
  • Complete the BIA assessment
  • Change Articles of Association on Companies House
  • B Lab then schedule an assessment review
  • Complete assessment review
  • Submit additional documentation and go through evidence calls (for us this was x 2 rounds)
  • Hopefully get your accreditation

There are lots of useful resources on process through B Lab UK here. Once you have accreditation, I have written a blog on how to use it to grow and develop here. And if you want to chat further about the process we went through, please get in touch with me (Mandy). We are also organising a B Social, if you want to be kept up to date with when this will be, you can sign up in the footer to be kept informed.

If you want to download this process to keep on file, please find the PDF link here.

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