B Corp Certification is given by B Lab, a Pennsylvania based nonprofit organization that aims to support the emerging B Corp sector by certifying and rating, recruiting and promoting B Corps, demystifying the legal frameworks surrounding the B Corps, and more.
What is a B Corporation?
Social responsibility is a key element of a B corporation’s business philosophy. B corporation pledge to take care of the interests of not just the business shareholders but all its stake holders — the society, the environment and the communities it engages with. A company that aspires to obtain a B Corp Certification must make the necessary changes to its articles of incorporation, obtain a minimum score of 80 (on a scale of 200) on the B ratings system, pay an annual licensing fee to B labs and submit to recertification every two years.
Why should you consider becoming a certified B Corporation?
B Corp Certification is important whether you want to brand your existing business as a socially responsible enterprise or set up your own home based green business. It helps customers cut through the crap and clearly understand the company’s value proposition. The biggest advantage enjoyed by B Corporations is that though they may be small individually, their collective annual revenues are in excess of $ 1 billion making them a force to be reckoned with.
- Special tax status– The concept of a B corporation was born in 2006. Since then, over 300 companies have signed up. A few US states have given a legal status to B corporations. Efforts are afoot to have a tax incentive in place for B corporations that commit to caring for the community. Philadelphia has already committed itself to offering tax breaks to certified B Corporations.
- Umbrella Branding -B Corp Certification is like an umbrella brand that helps cut marketing expense. Consumers have indicated their preference for dealing with companies that are driven by motives other than profit. In the current business and legal environment it makes sense to be seen as a socially responsible business. B Corp Certification allows businesses to display the B certified logo and benefit from the promotion of the B certified business by B labs.
- Access to advice and discounted services – B service partners offer tools and services at discounted prices to B certified businesses and B labs supports certified companies meet their social and environmental goals.
Here are 3 innovative B Corporations
As of August 2008, there were over 120 B Corporations. Here are 3 examples of Certified B Corporations.
1) Pura Vida Coffee
A 2009 study showed that consumers included in the study group rated Pura Vida coffee as better than Starbucks. The Seattle based company is the baby of Sage and Dearnley. Pura Vida Coffee is a company with a heart. Its coffee is 100% organic (free from hormones, pesticides and fertilizers), fair trade and shade grown. Besides the fact that the company operates in a $ 8 billion an year gourmet coffee market in US, what sets it apart are its programs for at- risk children in Costa Rica, a soup kitchen serving 100 meals a day to poor children, computer centers and community soccer teams.
The straw wall product of Green Design Systems (GDS) is a revolutionary building material. These infill walls are made from rice straw, wood framing and steel mesh. While the first is an agricultural waste the second is certified by the forest stewardship council and the third is made from 100% recycled metal. The reduction in wall construction time, energy efficiency, and a non toxic fire resistant wall is complemented by reduced global warming. Additionally the wall is completely recyclable/ compostable at the end of its life. The Straw wall was chosen as one of the Top Ten Green Building Products of the Year” by the Northwest Chapter of the Green Building Council.
Giveanddate seeks to bring together the two ideas of flirting and philanthropy. A dating service for Single New Yorkers Giveanddate successfully set itself apart by requiring its users to use its services free of cost but only after they have contributed to one of Giveanddate’s partner charities. Additionally, Giveanddate sources 75% of its supplies from recycled material, tries to minimize travel and gives 50% of its profits to charitable organizations.
In a short span of little over three years, B Corporations have a gained legal recognition in a few states and tax breaks in at least one US city. B labs estimates that the B corps save $ 750,000 annually in marketing and operating costs. B Corp Certification can thus help a company cement its sustainable credentials, improve visibility and deliver better returns to the shareholders too.