How to get started on the B Corp journey
Since starting in 2006, B Corp certification has become one of the most recognisable indications of good business practices around the world. The UK B Corp community is growing faster than ever. There are now over 1,300 B Corps in the UK, across 58 industries.
But why join the B Corp movement? And how do you go about it? Thanks to our friends at Twelve, an agency supporting businesses on their B Corp journey, we’ve put together a handy resource of everything you need to know before you get started.
Our journey to B Corp
At the end of last year, we made the commitment to become B Corp certified. Becoming a B Corp business is no mean feat. It’s a big challenge; and one that requires time and continual dedication. From the outset, we enlisted our friends at Twelve to help us with the nitty gritty.
We’re now several months into this journey and so far, so good. We are hoping to submit our first B Corp application soon. In the meantime, we asked the good people at Twelve to share their words of wisdom on becoming a B Corp.
What tangible benefits are there to becoming a B Corp?
Becoming a B Corp is a powerful message to your team and your customers. We find that teams are usually really engaged in the B Corp process and are excited to see their employer stepping up when it comes to social and environmental impact. This can improve staff engagement and also attract top talent. And the B Corp logo is now becoming a lot more recognised everywhere as people want to work with and buy from companies which share their values.
Ultimately, it shows people you’re actually ‘walking the walk’ when it comes to sustainability. The assessment process gives you in-depth insight into every aspect of your business, showing you where to focus to improve. You also get to join a thriving and fast-growing community of other B Corps who are all passionate about collaborating and sharing knowledge to grow the B Corp movement.
What are the main B Corp requirements?
To become a B Corp, you have to complete a rigorous assessment with hundreds of questions across five pillars; governance, the environment, your workers, customers, and the communities you impact. To pass, you have to score at least 80 points – which isn’t easy, and involves providing evidence for all of your answers.
Every B Corp has to make a legal change to their articles of association and upload it to Companies House. This includes a commitment to create a positive impact and to consider the interests of all stakeholders, not just the shareholders or owners of the business. This is how B Corp becomes engrained into the very DNA of a company. It’s what makes it different from other certifications.
What kind of businesses are eligible for B Corp?
B Corps have to be for-profit businesses (so charities are not eligible), and can be of any size, from almost any sector. Businesses working in certain controversial industries might be ineligible or may have to meet extra criteria to ensure they are not causing harm. This ensures the B Corp certification retains its integrity and is only held by businesses which are truly a force for good.
The UK B Corp community is growing faster than ever. There are now over 1,300 B Corps in the UK, across 58 industries.
How long does the certification take?
This is one of the most common questions we get asked… and one of the hardest to answer! It varies a lot from business to business. It depends on how much time and energy you can put behind the project, as well as where you’re currently at on your impact journey.
We usually recommend businesses allow 6-12 months to complete the assessment and implement the changes needed. After that, there can be a waiting list for your application to be assessed and verified. The current wait time from submitting your assessment to becoming certified is around 4-8 months. So in total you’re looking at around 1-2 years from beginning the journey to becoming a fully-fledged B Corp.
How long does the certification last?
All B Corps have to re-certify every 3 years, and are expected to improve over that time. B Lab are currently evolving the standards so the certification process could look quite different by the time you re-certify.
What is the cost of certification?
Certification costs are paid annually, on a sliding scale based on company revenue. Fees start from £1,000 per year. But there’s an equity discount available for small businesses owned by women, people of colour and other underrepresented groups.
"Having a core internal team working on the project, like Fiasco’s ‘B Champs’, is a great way to keep up the energy and momentum."Molly, Junior Consultant, Twelve
What tips can you suggest to get started?
The most important thing is making sure that you and your team have energy and excitement for the process. It’s a time-consuming and at times, challenging project. It really helps if your leaders and decision makers can bring a brave and open-minded attitude to delving into the depths of your business whatever that may uncover, and are open to making big changes where needed.
Having internal buy-in from the wider team is really important. We often take teams through an ‘introduction to B Corp’ session to get everyone up to speed and on board.
Generally, we find having a core internal team working on the project, like Fiasco’s ‘B Champs’, is a great way to keep up the energy and momentum through what can be a long process.
What are the benefits to hiring a consultant to help get B Corp certified?
The B Corp process can feel quite overwhelming and daunting. There are hundreds of detailed questions to answer and some complicated rules around the scope of your assessment. As B Corp consultants we’re here to decode the complex questions and guide people through the process from start to finish (and beyond… B Corp doesn’t stop at certification)!
We’ve been through the B Impact Assessment a lot of times, so we have extensive knowledge of its quirks and how to unlock the correct sections for your business, as well as how to maximise your points. It’s also common for a company’s score to drop up to 8 points during verification. This is mostly due to people misunderstanding some of the questions or not having the correct evidence ready. It’s our job to help avoid this by preparing you as much as possible for certification.
Most of all, we help companies keep an eye on the bigger picture. We ensure that B Corp is not just a case of jumping through hoops, but instead is used as an incredibly powerful tool to unlock real positive impact.
Big thanks to Molly at Twelve for her input on this article and her ongoing support with our B Corp assessment. If you’d like further expert advice from Twelve on your own B Corp journey, then head over to their website.
Words By Nathalie Crease
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