B Corps (the B stands for “Benefit”) are companies that are committed to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. They have emerged as one of the most important developments in triple bottom line business.
Since Cultivating Capital is going through the process of becoming a Certified B Corporation, I wanted to share with you an overview of the certification process, especially the Impact Assessment.
Becoming a B Corp involves a 4-step process: filling out the Impact Assessment, conducting an assessment review with a staff member, adopting the legal framework, and reviewing the certification fees. The Impact Assessment, along with the resulting Impact Report, make up the B Impact Rating System.
The B Corp Impact Assessment
The B Corp Impact Assessment is a comprehensive survey of your business practices that determines your impact on all stakeholders; it’s updated every two years to ensure continual improvement. Expect to take 60-90 minutes to fill it out, but since it’s an online checklist, you can work on it, save it, and then return to it later to complete it.
It’s divided into 4 different sections:
- Governance: Standards related to mission, the Board of Directors, and transparency.
- Community: Standards related to employee practices, supply chain, and community service.
- Environment: Standards related to your overall environmental practices.
- Beneficial Business Models: Standards related to how your business model serves the community and conserves the environment.
There’s also a Disclosure Questionnaire, which covers a range of areas in which a company must disclose its activities. These include identifying if a company is involved in activities such as gambling and firearms, whether or not it engages in animal testing and uses child or prison labor, whether people have had to relocate due to construction of a company’s facility, and whether there have been any fines, sanctions, or formal complaints to regulatory agencies against a company’s practices.
Taken together, the Impact Assessment and Disclosure Questionnaire comprise a holistic framework for any company that is seeking to do good through its business operations – which is, of course, what B Corps are doing!
The Impact Assessment and Your Business
The Impact Assessment is useful in a couple of different ways. Of course, if you’re interested in becoming a B Corp, it’s the first step in the process. By filling it out and seeking certification, you’ll be committing your business to the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility.
However, the Impact Assessment is a great tool even if you’re not seeking certification. According to the B Corp website, “[The Impact Assessment] is free and open to all, whether or not you’d like to become a B Corporation. You are welcome to use it as a benchmarking tool and to track your company’s social and environmental performance.” You could register online, access the Impact Assessment, and use it to identify areas where you can make improvements in your own company’s operations. If you’d like to see how your company compares to other sustainable businesses, you can then check out the B Corp Index; it compares the social and environmental performance of more than 1,300 companies (on average, B Corps score 25% higher than other sustainable businesses).
To learn more about B Corps, I invite you to read the post, “What Are B Corps?” If you have any questions about B Corps or the Impact Assessment, please leave them in the comments below.