Many businesses may want to help build a better economy, society, and environment, but some make it a priority. If you own a business that prioritizes the common good, consider applying for B Corp certification.
So, what are B Corp companies? Learn more about this relatively new certification to find out if it’s something you might be interested in.
What is a B Corp certification?
A B Corp certification certifies that a for-profit business is committed to social and environmental betterment, transparency, and accountability. Businesses that apply for B Corp status must prove that their operations positively impact the environment, community, employees, vendors, and customers.
A nonprofit cannot apply to become a certified B corporation. B Corp certification only recognizes for-profits committed to their mission of doing good.
Businesses around the world can apply for B Corp certification. Over 70 countries have B Corp companies. According to Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com,
As a certified B Corp, your company has equal responsibility to its community and the planet. Your business will be one that balances purpose and profit and is legally required to consider the impact that their decisions make on virtually everyone, from customers to the environment.”
The certification was created by a nonprofit organization called B Lab, which was established in 2006. Businesses began obtaining the certification in 2007.
To be able to apply for B Corp certification, a business must be in operation for at least 12 months. Once you’ve been in business for at least 12 months, you can apply for the certification, regardless of your business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, corporation, etc.).
For certification, you must first complete a B Corp assessment, known as the B Impact Assessment (BIA). Then, B Lab will determine if your business meets the certification requirements.
If your business receives a certification, you can promote the achievement by using the B Corp symbol when representing your company.
Pending B Corp status
There is also a Pending B Corp status option for companies that have been in business for less than 12 months.
Pending B Corps can maintain this status for 12 months before going through the complete certification process.
During this time, a Pending B Corp can use the Pending B Corp symbol:
How many companies have a B Corp certification?
The number of businesses with B Corp certification continues to grow. At this time, there are 3,214 certified B Corps.
Although there are a number of big companies with the certification (e.g., Ben & Jerry’s), the majority of them are actually small businesses, according to B Lab.
What is the application process like?
The application process for achieving a B Corp certification might be a little overwhelming at first.
Here’s how B Lab breaks the process down:
- Gather business documents (e.g., income statement, employee handbook, etc.)
- Take the BIA
- Meet the legal requirement
- Submit your assessment if you achieve a score of 80 or higher
- Schedule a review call with a B Lab analyst
- Upload supporting documents
- Have the review call
- Upload additional documentation requested during the review call
- Sign the B Corp Agreement
Are there any fees?
If you want to achieve B Corp status, you have to be willing to pay some fees. There is an application fee for some businesses. And, there is an annual certification fee. Companies that opt for Pending B Corp status must also pay a fee.
Many businesses can take the B Corp assessment for free. But, businesses that earn between $100 million – $5 billion in annual revenue must pay a prescreening, scoping, and verification fee.
Annual certification fee
Keep in mind that there is an annual certification fee that B Corps must pay. The fee ranges from $1,000 – $50,000+, depending on your business’s annual sales.
For example, companies with under $150,000 in annual sales pay an annual certification fee of $1,000. On the other hand, companies with annual sales between $750 million – $999.9 million pay a $50,000 annual fee.
Pending status fee
Businesses opting for Pending B Corp status can pay a one-time fee of $500.
What do you have to do to maintain your certification?
Obtaining a certification isn’t a one-time thing. You must recertify your business every three years by updating your assessment and passing.
After receiving B Corp certification, your business may also be subject to an in-depth Site Review, conducted by B Lab. These reviews take between six and 10 hours, either virtually or in-person at your business.
Should you apply?
If you feel you may qualify for the certification, you might be wondering if it’s worth it. At the end of the day, whether you decide to go for it or not depends.
You may consider applying for a B Corp certification to:
- Boost credibility
- Set the tone for your company culture
- Protect your business’s mission
- Attract and retain workers
- Give your business’s voice a platform
- Set and achieve goals
- Join a community
Before applying, don’t forget about the time and money required. Keep the annual fees in mind. And, make sure you are willing to carve out time for the application process—and to uphold your business’s mission long-term.
For more information on obtaining a B Corp certification, check out B Lab’s website.
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