The B Corp Handbook: A Review

I remember first hearing about B Corps back in 2008, just a year after the first B Corps were certified.

At the time, the concept intrigued me but I didn’t quite understand what it was all about.

Once I grasped the significance of the movement and started working on B Corp Certification for my former employer in 2009, I noticed that most people who were first learning about B Corps back then had a similar learning curve.

“What’s a B Corp?,” they asked. “What’s the Impact Assessment? Why is this important?”

Since those early days, the B Corp messaging has evolved so that it conveys the significance of the movement much more clearly; in fact, it’s even captured succinctly in the B Corp anthem, a short video worth watching:

As the B Corp movement has continued to grow, gain mainstream attention, and expand internationally, it eventually reached a milestone: it finally warranted its own B Corp Handbook, a guide for people wanting to learn about B Corps and the certification process.

Why Read It

If you’re interested in B Corps – whether you’re new to the movement or are already a believer – the B Corp Handbook will be worth reading.

It’s a quick, easy read that will bring you up-to-speed with the ins and outs of the B Corp movement, from its history to how to get started on certification.

The perspectives and insights from specific companies within the B Corp community are particularly helpful. You’ll gain an appreciation for the breadth of companies that have joined the movement, the business case for B Corp certification, and the many benefits of certifying your company.

Summary

The B Corp Handbook is focused on showing readers both how to join the growing B Corp movement and how to build a better business, with tips and best practices shared throughout.

The book is divided into five sections:

  1. Overview. A history of B Corps and why they matter.
  2. Benefits of Becoming a B Corp. An explanation of the top 10 benefits of certification, from joining a community and attracting talented employees to building brand trust and realizing cost savings.
  3. B Impact Assessment. An overview of the different parts of the assessment with suggestions for how you can implement best practices at your business.
  4. Quick Start Guide. A guide to getting started on the assessment.
  5. Conclusion. Defining success for the B Corp movement.

The sections are well-organized to provide a useful background and context for readers new to B Corps while also sharing tips and ideas for those already familiar with B Corps, especially if they want to make improvements to their businesses.

Takeaways from the B Corp Handbook

Overall, this is a handy, straightforward guide to what B Corps are all about, why they’re important, and how to use the Impact Assessment to build a better business.

The best part of this book – what makes it really come alive – are the perspectives from other business owners.

Throughout the book, you’ll find short interviews with B Corps from around the world. In their own words, they share the business benefits of becoming a B Corp, their biggest surprises upon becoming B Corps, and even advice for those considering certification.

The one area where the book falls a bit short is in the conclusion, particularly in the question about what success looks like for the B Corp movement.

Most movements – think women’s suffrage or civil rights – have clear end goals, a finish line that can be crossed, even if work still remains to be done afterwards. Whether the goal was to earn the right to vote or to be treated equally, the movements worked towards a specific goal.

In the case of the B Corp movement, I asked the question about how we would define success at the 2013 B Corp Champions Retreat and realized that we, as a community, were still working on an answer.

The B Corp Handbook concludes that success would be “a dramatic increase in the number of businesses that measure what matters,” a worthy though somewhat vague measure of success.

However, this one point doesn’t detract from the value of the book. Rather, I believe that it’s a reflection of a movement that is still relatively young (less than 10 years old) and very much still evolving.

The important part – and where I hope that you will join us – is that those of us in the B Corp movement are united around a common goal: to harness business as a force for good.

Next Steps

If you’re interested in joining the B Corp movement, consider taking the B Impact Assessment. It’s a free, online assessment that will evaluate your business across a wide range of areas.