As a B Corp consultant, I often get asked questions about the B Corps, B Corp requirements, fees, timelines, and more. This post is provided as a resource to help you with any questions you might have about B Corps. It’s fairly comprehensive, but if I missed something, feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to help you.
What is a Certified B Corp?
Let’s start at the beginning. A Certified B Corp is a business that has met high standards for social and environmental performance. Certified B Corps go through a rigorous certification process that involves objectively assessing their impacts on all stakeholders (not just shareholders) and providing documentation to an independent standards analyst to confirm their practices. For more information, please see Certified B Corporations: Everything You Need to Know.
What are the B Corp requirements?
The B Corp requirements include completing the B Impact Assessment (BIA), a comprehensive evaluation of a company’s areas of impact, and undergoing a rigorous evaluation. The BIA evaluates a company’s impacts across five key areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. A company must score at least 80 to get certified. Often this involves making improvements, such as by formalizing policies, developing Impact Reports, and calculating their carbon footprint.
Once a company has completed the BIA with a score of at least 80 points, it can submit it for review to B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies B Corps. The company will then undergo a review process where they will be asked for documentation to verify their responses. A company can get certified when it achieves a verified score of at least 80 points.
In addition to the performance standards, there is a legal requirement. For more information, see B Lab’s Legal Requirement tool. Certified B Corps must also sign the B Corp agreement and pay annual fees (see below for further information about fees).
How long does the certification take?
The BIA can take some time to complete. Two factors that may determine how long a company takes to complete it include capacity and improvements needed. First, companies that have limited capacity often take longer to complete it and often need to bring in outside assistance. Second, companies that have to make many improvements to reach the 80 points needed to get certified will often take longer than companies that might have a high score due to the beneficial practices already in place.
Once the BIA is completed and ready for review, B Lab may take up to 5-6 months to initiate and complete the review process due to increased demand for the certification.
How long does the certification last?
B Corp Certification lasts for three years. After three years, a company must recertify by completing the BIA again and submitting it for review to B Lab. The performance standards also get updated every three years. As a result, a company will always recertify on an updated set of standards. Continuous improvement is built into the process of being a B Corp!
What is the cost of B Corp Certification?
Fees to B Lab are paid annually and are based on a company’s annual revenues. You can see their fees at https://bcorporation.net/certification (scroll down).
How many B Corps are there?
B Lab keeps a running list of the total number of Certified B Corps on their home page at https://bcorporation.net/.
What are the benefits of B Corp Certification?
There are many benefits to becoming a B Corp. The biggest benefit, I would say, is the community. Your company will join an active and supportive community that keeps in touch regular via the B Hive (a private networking site for B Corps), Slack, LinkedIn, and Google groups. The B Corp community is very intentional about working together to advance a global movement that is using business as a force for good.
Another significant benefit is recruiting and retaining top talent. People want to work for companies that they can feel good about, and many are actively looking to work for B Corps.
As a B Corp, your company will be differentiate from competitors and tap into marketing benefits, from use of the B Corp logo to participating in marketing campaigns and using the marketing assets that B Lab develops to promote B Corps.
For companies that are looking to raise capital, B Corp certification can also send a strong signal to potential investors about your company’s commitment to using business as a force for good.
Is my company a good candidate for B Corp Certification?
The B Corp certification is incredibly robust yet flexible, allowing sole proprietors, subsidiaries of multinational corporations, and everyone in between to get certified. Certified B Corps represent over 150 industries across 71 countries.
In our experience, the key indicator of whether a company is a good candidate for certification is leadership commitment to joining what is still a relatively new movement: there are only 3,500+ B Corps in the entire world. It is still a movement for early adopters.
What is a Benefit Corporation?
A Benefit Corporation is a corporation that has a legal requirement to create a public benefit and to take all stakeholders (not just shareholders) into account in its strategy and operations. It is a legal entity that a company can choose, similar to a C Corp or an S Corp. It is different from a Certified B Corp, which is a company that has voluntarily met an independent set of standards for social and environmental performance and received a third-party certification as a result.
Can an LLC become a B Corp?
Yes! In addition to meeting the performance standards, LLCs will need to add a Purpose Clause to their Member Agreement. For more information, see B Lab’s Legal Requirement tool.
My company is already a C Corp or S Corp. Should I become a B Corp?
B Corps and Benefit Corporations are two different things that are commonly confused. A Benefit Corporation is a legal entity, similar to a C Corp or S Corp. In addition to meeting the performance standards, S Corps and C Corps will need to become Benefit Corporations to meet the legal requirement for certification. For more information, see our article about Benefit Corporations.
We already operate like a B Corp. Why should we get certified?
While many companies share similar values, Certified B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. They commit to a rigorous process that helps them to uncover their own blind spots and make improvements that they might not have considered on their own. They recognize that the certification itself is not the end goal and that instead it actually marks the beginning of their journey towards greater impact.
No one “should” get certified; rather, CEOs and founders need to decide for themselves if they want to embark on a rigorous path of continuous improvement as part of a global community committed to changing the way that business is done.
I’m a sole proprietor or micro business. Can I get certified?
Yes! Many B Corps, including Cultivating Capital, are run by solopreneurs. We’re small but mighty, and can amplify our voice as part of a larger community. There are also good business development opportunities within the B Corp community for service professionals.
My business is a startup. When is a good time to start the process?
Startups actually have an advantage in starting the process early because you can implement the right policies and practices from the beginning, rather than making changes later. In doing so, you’ll be building a stronger organization that will help you to maximize your impact. We can help you to build your business as a B Corp from the beginning. For more information, see B Corp Certification for Startups.
How does being a B Corp affect my taxes?
B Corp Certification, as a third-party standard, does not have tax implications. Benefit Corporation is a legal status, not a federally-recognized tax status. You can still file taxes as a C Corp, S Corp, LLC, or sole proprietor. An accountant or B Corp CPA should be able to assist with this.
Where can I see a list of B Corporations?
You can find a list of B Corporations on the B Corp Directory. This directory will show you all of the companies that are certified. You can search by business name, keyword, location, or industry.
Do I need to hire a consultant to get certified or recertified?
No, many businesses are able to get certified and recertified without a consultant. However, clients find that hiring a consultant is helpful due to the complexity of the Impact Assessment, the documentation required, and the time involved. Similar to other work such as updating your website or preparing your taxes, completing the Impact Assessment can be done by anyone but will generally be done more accurately and in less time by an experienced professional.
According to B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies businesses, fewer than 50% of companies that submit an assessment meet the certification requirements after completing the review process. This can be due to numerous reasons, including completing the wrong assessment (there are different tracks for different sectors), making mistakes in filling out the BIA, or lacking adequate documentation.
The Cultivating Capital team has expertise in completing the BIA, navigating the certification process, and working with B Lab’s standards analysts to complete the final review process. We work to help companies move quickly and efficiently through the certification process, ensuring that they avoid the pitfalls so that they can successfully achieve their goal: getting certified or recertified as a B Corp.
My business is due to recertify and I would like to raise our score. Can you help?
Yes! We work with businesses that are recertifying in addition to those who are certifying for the first time. We helped one client increase her score from 84.9 to 112.2, a 27-point increase! A couple of our clients have also earned Best for the World recognition, which recognizes B Corps that score in the top 10% of each category on the BIA.
We can’t guarantee that your results will be the same, but we can help you uncover ways to improve your impact, formalize your practices, and get points that you might otherwise overlook.
I’m stuck and can’t get to 80 points. Can you help?
Yes, this is exactly what we do! We’ve helped clients who have been stuck before and have been able to help them to get certified. When someone is stuck, it’s often because the questions don’t make sense to them, they answer them incorrectly, or they don’t know how to implement a specific practice. Because we have spent countless hours going through multiple BIAs across different industries, we can quickly identify where and how to correctly answer questions and increase your score.
I already submitted my BIA but didn’t get certified. Can you help?
Yes, we’ve helped clients in this situation before. Similar to when a business is stuck, we can work with you to correctly fill out the BIA, prepare the documentation, and then resubmit your BIA to B Lab for review. One of our favorite experiences is when we can help a client who didn’t think they could ever get certified achieve certification!
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