Call for Input on B Corp Certification Performance Requirements
2 December 2020 — B Lab is excited to request your input on the structure of the B Corp Certification requirements in response to meaningful community and stakeholder feedback regarding evolving conceptions of leadership in social and environmental performance and the impact of the B Corp movement on issues that matter most. Specifically, this process will explore the possibility of developing specific, meaningful, minimum requirements to become a Certified B Corp that build on the existing standards in the B Impact Assessment (BIA).
The evolution of the B Corp Certification standards has been a core component of improving and optimizing the impact of this movement since its beginning in 2006. While significant improvements have been made since, the core aspects of the B Impact Assessment, a comprehensive measure of a company’s social and environmental performance, and how it is used to determine the certification performance requirement, have remained the same. This includes the fact that the certification is rooted in a company achieving an overall verified score of an 80 on the B Impact Assessment, but the practices that a company can engage in to achieve that 80 is flexible.
While this approach has been tremendously valuable and impactful in the first decade plus of this movement, it also has its limitations and challenges:
Difficulty in articulating what it means to be a B Corp in a meaningful, impactful, and consistent way;
Not being customized enough to a particular company’s context, be it region, size, country, or industry;
Challenges regarding changes to our score-based standards and how that affects a company’s ongoing certification;
The lack of continuous improvement demonstrated by a company as a requirement of the certification;
The risk and challenge of having the certification rooted in a company engaging in and demonstrating various practices, even if they might not be the most impactful practices.
The world and the B Corp movement are now in a very different place than when the initial requirements for the certification were developed ~14 years ago. There is growing consensus of and urgency to take action on the climate emergency. There is a global health pandemic threatening our and our loved ones’ health and well-being, and a consequential economic crisis. People are taking to the streets all over the world to demand racial justice and meaningful action to dismantle white supremacy. There has been no greater moment of awareness and recognition of the need to reset our economic system to be more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative, and no greater amount of expectations for businesses to play a positive role in these changes.
Since B Corps and the B Lab Global Network are the leaders of this systems change, it’s natural to ask whether the idea of leadership has shifted or needs to shift based on the current world we live in and the goals that this movement has. Can a company really be a leader in the movement to use business as a force for good if they are not taking meaningful action on climate? If they are not addressing issues of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion for the particular context where they operate? These questions have been posed to B Lab both from existing B Corps and other stakeholders, and as responsible stewards of this movement, it is necessary that we explore these difficult questions and listen to our stakeholders to arrive at an answer.
Following this initial request for input, a work plan for the next year will be shared to further explore these questions, to determine if the certification requirements need to evolve, and if so, how. The purpose of this process is to explore, and not assume, a particular outcome. We will strive to ensure all voices are heard, prioritize incorporating voices of those who have traditionally been excluded or marginalized, and simultaneously ensure that the great work of the existing B Corp community of 3600+ great companies, and the power and value of the B Impact Assessment as a valuable management tool, is not diminished by any possible changes.
If you are interested in providing more in-depth feedback and engagement over time, please also submit your interest to do so, as well as consider applying to join one of our Regional Standards Advisory Groups if one is available in your local region. In addition to existing Regional Standards Advisory Groups in the UK, Latin America, East Africa, and Australasia, we are also launching two new groups for Europe and Asia.
Importantly, these inputs are only a starting point, and we will provide regular updates and further calls to contribute over time. In addition to submitting your responses to the survey above, we always invite you to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, ideas, or concerns. Thanks for joining us in the ongoing journey to transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.