by Phoebe Harpham, Social Enterprise Scheme, OHO
In my last blog post I talked about The B Team - a formidable team of highly successful global business leaders who are challenging traditional business practices and forging a new, more ethical way of doing business.
In this blog post, I would like to discuss the B Corporation - what they are, where they are, and who they benefit.
What is a B Corporation?
Benefit Corporations - or B Corps - are a relatively new breed of businesses who are making it their business to prioritise people and planet alongside profit. Certified B Corps are the gold standard of B Corporations. In order to achieve B certification, they have met strict criteria - set by US not-for-profit B Lab - demonstrating that they are performing in the best interests of society and the environment whilst still achieving financial returns.
Where are B Corporations?
At last count there were 837 B Corps in 27 countries working within 60 different industries. The majority of certified B Corps are in the USA however Australia is slowly catching up. Small Giants, a support organisation for social enterprises, was the first certified B Corp in Australia, achieving its certification in 2012. Since then, a further nine Australian businesses have been certified as B Corps. Amongst them are: TOM Organic - a company that produces sustainable and organic female sanitary products; Whole Kids - an organic food company producing healthy snacks for kids; and WattElse - an energy company providing solar energy solutions.The ‘B’ in B Corp stands for ‘benefit’ - but who exactly do B Corps benefit?
Benefits for business: Business leaders and social entrepreneurs committed to creating businesses that put people and the planet alongside profit can use B certification as a way to differentiate their business from traditional just-for-profit businesses. These organisations can wear their B certification proudly as a mark of their commitment to the greater good and use it as a point of difference when competing in the marketplace. And with recent studies suggesting that over 80% of employees consider a company’s corporate social responsibility record when deciding where to work - B certification provide a clear advantage for businesses seeking to attract committed and loyal employees.
Benefits for investors and shareholders: B certification eliminates the hard work for investors looking for ethical investments. Certified B Corps are required to meet rigorous standards and report regularly on their social, environmental and financial performance. This information provides investors with hard data on which to evaluate a company’s investment potential and for which to hold them accountable for their performance.
Benefits for employees: In order to achieve B certification, a company must demonstrate that it values its workers by providing them with adequate compensation, benefits, training, job flexibility and a safe and fair working environment. In addition to these benefits, working for a certified B Corp also provides employees with the satisfaction of working for an organisation that is not just about ‘doing well’ but also committed to ‘doing good’.
Benefits for consumers: Research has shown that the overwhelming majority of consumers (91%) report they would switch brands to one associated with a good cause, price and quality being equal. Many companies lay claim to being ‘ethical’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘organic’ however without clear regulation, it can be difficult and confusing for consumers to tell the difference between a good company and good marketing. B-certification takes away the guess work and highlights company’s that are walking the talk. Consumers who purchase products or services produced by a certified B-Corp can be confident that they are supporting an ethical organisation.
- Benefits for All: B Corps, and initiatives discussed in my previous blog posts such as The B Team, the Social Progress Index, and the social enterprise sector, are all part of a wave of change that is transforming the business world. These initiatives are challenging traditional business practices and forging a new, more ethical way of doing business - proving that businesses can do well and do good. Certified B Corps are leading the charge and striving to not just be the best in the world but also the best for the world.
To find out how your organisation can become part of this new wave of business change, contact our Social Enterprise Manager.