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 business sustainability, since they demonstrate the triple bottom line in action. To certify your business as a B Corp, you’ll need to complete the B Impact Assessment.
The B Impact Assessment
The B Impact Assessment is a comprehensive survey of your business practices that determines your impact on all stakeholders. 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.
There are 200 points possible in the B Impact Assessment. To become a certified B Corporation, businesses must score a minimum of 80 points.
The assessment is divided into 5 different sections:
- Governance: Standards related to mission, stakeholder engagement, governance structure and controls, and transparency.
- Workers: The standards in this section look at how a company treats is employees, including the compensation practices, benefits, training, worker ownership and work environment.
- Community: This section covers the company’s impact on external community stakeholders, including suppliers, distributors, and the local economy and community, as well as the company’s practices regarding diversity, job creation, civic engagement, and charitable giving.
- Environment: Standards related to your company’s direct and indirect environmental impacts.
- Customers: Standards related to the impact that your business model has on your customers and whether you serve underserved populations.
In each section, you will be asked a series of questions about your business practices. The sections are weighted differently depending upon the type of business (service, wholesale/retail, manufacturers, and agricultural/growers), the number of employees, and whether the business is located in a developed vs. emerging economy.
There’s also a Disclosure Questionnaire, which asks about specific items where a company must disclose if it is involved in activities such as gambling, payday lending, or wildlife or wildlife products.
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!
Assessing Your Business Like a B Corp
The Impact Assessment is a great tool to use to assess your company’s sustainability practices. Some of the benefits include:
- Objectively assessing your business. Rather than simply believing that your business is sustainable, why not get an objective assessment? The Impact Assessment will present you with a comprehensive list of best practices for sustainability: engaging employees, giving back to your community, practicing environmental responsibility, and more. Completing the assessment will allow you to truly evaluate your business performance against these practices.
- Benchmarking your performance. How does your company compare to thousands of others? What are your areas of strength where you surpass others? What are the areas where you’re not doing as well as others and may need to improve upon? Now you’ll have concrete answers to these questions.
- Improving your business. Once you’ve objectively assessed your business and compared your performance to others, you’ll have valuable information for how to improve. How can you build a better business? How can your company do more good? You can now develop a plan for strategic improvement, instead of engaging in ad hoc efforts and perhaps wasting both time and money.
Completing the Impact Assessment is also the first step in certifying as a B Corp, which I encourage you to consider. As a Certified B Corp, your company will be committed to the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility in business. You’ll also be joining a growing, international movement for sustainability in business.
Learn more about how your business can become a Certified B Corp or fill out the form below.