Embracing the Joy of B Corp Recertification

April 11, 2024

Team members at MaCher celebrate the B Corp’s recertification. (Photo credit: MaCher)

This article is a personal perspective from an employee at B Lab, the nonprofit behind Certified B Corporations. In this series, we invite B Lab employees to share their experiences, inspiration, hopes, and challenges as they work toward a more inclusive and regenerative world. This edition of B Lab Voices is from Alexander LeFebvre, Senior Associate of Recertification at B Lab U.S. & Canada.

“Take a moment to reflect on the beauty and power of this B Corp, reaffirming its place in the constellation of thousands of other B Corps across the universe.” — Jay Coen-Gilbert

This quote, adapted from language that once was used often at B Lab, is emblematic of what it means to go through the recertification journey. It’s a process that can feel bureaucratic, onerous, and redundant at times, but at its best, it is an expression of a company’s values. To be willing to attain B Corp Certification, with the positive publicity and competitive advantage that it can afford a company, is one thing. To go back through the gauntlet and let B Lab peek under the hood of a company’s operations to see if they have at the very least maintained their impact through, for example, a global pandemic, an economic downturn, leadership changes, the political backlash of Environmental Social Governance (ESG) and Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) efforts, and record-setting income inequality, is a whole other demonstration of a company’s commitment to its stakeholders and building a better economy. B Corps have always answered the call. I’ve seen this time and again in my two-plus years at B Lab.

Despite a challenging landscape, B Corps are not only maintaining but improving their impact. Whether a business has scaled its impact as it has grown, deepened its relationship with and benefits for suppliers, employees, or customers, or engaged in a process to learn and build new impact programs, recertification is an opportunity for a B Corp to re-engage with and share that progress across its value chain. Of the 953 B Corps that have successfully recertified since I began at B Lab, they have increased their score by an average of 5.6 points. Think about how many workers will have seen their wages and benefits increase, how many tons of carbon have been reduced or removed from our ecosystems, and how many dollars have been invested into alleviating poverty in supply chains or reinvesting into local communities.

In a time where the business community’s commitment to advancing ESG and JEDI is wavering, our increasingly diverse and vibrant B Corp community is picking up the slack. Not only is this having positive impacts on its stakeholders, but we’ve also found that B Corps are more resilient in challenging times than non-B Corps and the B Corp brand itself is growing and connecting to Millennials and Gen Z more than ever. As Leah Thomas, Founder of Intersectional Environmentalist, said in a byline article, “We have an abundance of ways to participate and show up for ourselves and the planet.” B Corps are finding a competitive advantage by building a solidarity economy and new business models that do not rely on the logic of exploitation and wealth supremacy that have powered our economy ever since the founding of both the United States and Canada.

Sapahn celebrates its initial B Corp Certification. (Photo courtesy Sapahn)

So why should your company engage deeply in recertification? I’m biased, but I see it as the best way to remain accountable to your stakeholders as well as to measure and celebrate the impact you have made. It would seem wild for a company not to measure yearly financial statements. If all B Corps have written the language of benefitting stakeholders into their operating agreements, why would a B Corp not measure its impact with the same level of rigor? The health of your employees, suppliers, community, environment, and customers is arguably more important to the long-term success or failure of a business than quarterly financial returns.

If you haven’t done so already, recertification is an opportunity to begin holding an organization accountable for measuring and achieving specific impact metrics. If you don’t know where to start, pick the ones that are most important to you. I promise it will make your verification process and transition to the evolving standards much easier — and will probably improve your score this time around, too. The B Impact Assessment, our recertification resources, and your fellow B Corps are the best places to start learning and identifying focus areas for your recertification.

Our recertification team is committed to supporting you throughout the process. For the past 18 months, we’ve focused on building baseline resources and webinars to help you navigate the process. We continue focusing on creating resources and opportunities to engage with and learn from one another. We want to build the framework that will allow you to share best practices, build community, and celebrate your impact over the past three years. We also want to make the language in the assessment and the verification process as accessible as possible, meaning we are working to identify and remove roadblocks and frustrations that you might be experiencing. We are working with partners across B Lab, B Consultants, B Academics, and Network Leaders to empower our community to support and celebrate each other. Recertification is the one common experience every B Corp has, and we hope to help you reconnect with the beautiful impact your company is making.

I wish you all the best on your recertification journey. Please reach out to me and our team at recertification@usca.bcorporation.net if we can ever be of service to you.

With immense gratitude,
Alexander LeFebvre

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