What is the B Impact Assessment?
The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is the most commonly used tool to assess a company’s overall social and environmental performance. It does so by measuring the overall impact of a business on all stakeholders (workers, suppliers, customers, community, and environment) through an online, easy to use platform. The B Impact Assessment is a free, confidential service administered by the non-profit organization B Lab. As of March 2013, there are 8,000+ businesses who have registered to use the B Impact Assessment.
We envision that in a generation’s time all businesses in the world will measure and manage impact as readily as they do profitability. The B Impact Assessment provides the tools and impact standards necessary to help each and every business participate in this vision, regardless of their current intent or performance. These tools will help redefine success in business so that all businesses compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world.
What does the B Impact Assessment do?
Businesses use the B Impact Assessment to:
- Assess...the company’s current impact on all stakeholders as measured through 50-150 easy to answer, educational questions.
- Review and Compare...the company’s B Impact Report, which provides an objective rating of the company’s current performance. The B Impact Report also contains benchmarking information so companies may compare their impact to the impact of thousands of other businesses.
- Improve...their impact through access to 30 tools and Best Practice Guides that help in prioritizing and implementing new impact initiatives.
We invite you to watch this demo to view these features: http://bimpactassessment.net
How is the B Impact Assessment different than other tools?
The B Impact Assessment is unique in that it is:
- Positive Impact Focused – practices that intentionally address a social or environmental issue are measured, not practices that simply comply with existing laws or norms;
- Comprehensive – a company’s operational practices (including workers, suppliers, manufacturing practices, and governance) and the company’s products/services are measured because both are important in understanding a company’s effect on the world;
- Adaptable – there are over 40 versions of the Assessment that are tailored to a company based on size (# of employees), sector, and geography;
- Easy to use – it is designed for use by small and medium-sized businesses;
- Educational – business owners and operators can use it as a guide to improve impact;
- Transparent – criteria and weightings for each impact area, subcategory and individual question within the Assessment are available in the assessment;
- Independently governed – Standards Advisory Councils (SAC), a group of thought leaders, experts, and practitioners control the quality of the standard; and
- Dynamic – new and improved versions of the BIA assessment are developed every two years.
How is the data verified?
A majority of businesses use the B Impact Assessment as a self-assessment tool, and therefore their data is self-reported and unverified. However, if the company chooses to either become a Certified B Corporation or receive a GIIRS Rating, the company goes through a straightforward but rigorous process to validate the company's responses in the B Impact Assessment.
To get a glimpse of how a company's social and environmental performance is verified, please visit the following link: http://www.bcorporation.net/performance-requirements
Why does this matter?
‘We manage what we measure.’ This is one of the most basic truths in business. It follows that we ought to measure what matters most. What matters most is not simply how much value a business creates for its shareholders, but how much value a business creates for its stakeholders and the world.
Business can, some might even argue must, play a critical role in addressing society’s greatest social and environmental challenges. Businesses of all sizes across all industries around the world will be better equipped to do this with two critical pieces of market infrastructure:
- Credible, comprehensive, transparent, and independent standards of social and environmental performance that allow businesses to assess their overall impact; and,
- Publicly available benchmarks on corporate impact that allow businesses to compare and improve their impact over time.
‘If we build it, they will come.’ Once these infrastructure pieces are widely available, market forces will lead to their adoption by every business in the world that is competing for talent, capital, and consumers. These businesses will span a broad spectrum of both motivation and performance.
In a generation’s time we envision that all businesses in the world will measure and manage their impact with the same rigor they currently measure and manage their profits. This will redefine success in business so that all businesses compete not only to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world.
History of BIA and B Lab
B Lab Background and History
In 2006, Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy founded B Lab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Lab achieves this objective through three interrelated initiatives: 1) building a community of Certified B Corporations; 2) accelerating the growth of impact investing through use of GIIRS Ratings & Analytics; and 3) promoting supportive public policies. We envision a new sector of the economy comprised of B Corporations that are legally recognized by states and valued by workers, investors, and consumers. As a result, individuals and communities will have greater economic opportunities and society will move closer to achieving environmental sustainability.
B Lab has developed the following governance bodies to ensure the quality, rigor, and independence of the B Impact Assessment over time.
Standards Advisory Councils: Standards Advisory Councils (SACs) are independent governance bodies that develop/update the B Impact Assessments and have authority over their content and weightings. There are two SACs, one for Emerging Markets and one for Developed Markets, that are comprised of industry leaders from sustainable enterprise, impact investing, government and academia. Recommendations from SACs require a two-thirds majority vote by the B Lab Board of Directors to overturn.
To see a current list of SAC members visit: http://www.bcorporation.net/what-are-b-corps/the-non-profit-behind-b-corps/standards-advisory-council
B Lab – Board of Directors: The responsibilities of B Lab's Board of Directors include: 1. Overseeing the strategy, budget and operations of B Lab, including oversight of management, compensation, and development, 2: Playing a leadership role in forming the Standards Advisory Councils, providing oversight of their activities, and amending/approving their recommendations, and 3: Assisting in identifying and cultivating potential philanthropic donors/investors to ensure funding of B Lab's operations prior to sustainability via licensing and ratings incomes. It is the only entity with fiduciary duty.
Industry Working Groups: Industry Working Groups are ad hoc committees comprised of industry leaders that advise the Standards Advisory Council on the development of industry specific addenda to the B Impact Assessment. Previous working groups have focused on real estate, health & safety, and financial services. Recommendations from the Industry Working Groups require a two-thirds majority vote from the relevant SAC(s) to overturn.
A new version of the B Impact Assessment is released once every two years. The first version (V1.0) of the Developed Markets (DM) assessment was released on October 19, 2007 and V2.0 followed in January 2010 with two addenda focused on the green building and financial services industries. V3 was introduced in July 2011 and includes an assessment designed for companies in Emerging Markets (EM).
Prior to the release of each new version B Lab conducts both a private and public beta to ensure that B Lab’s stakeholders are being recognized in the standards development process.