An open letter to the B Corp community
I’m writing to you as I begin my fourth month as Lead Executive of B Lab Global. Navigating an exciting moment in the growth and evolution of the B Corp movement has been a thrilling and inspiring journey so far.
B Corp Certification and B Lab’s impact management tools are in demand like never before: over the past two years, there have been more than 6,000 applications for certification. To date, over 200,000 companies have engaged with our standards through the B Impact Assessment, and over 25,000 have used the SDG Action Manager. Regional and international collective action efforts are on the rise, addressing everything from industry issues to government policy in the UK, Europe, Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, the U.S., and Latin America. And today, there are over 5,600 Certified B Corps across 84 countries and 157 industries, representing 450,000+ workers and $150 billion USD in revenue.
Wow. This is a true testament to our success as a movement, driven by each and every B Corp working to transform the global economy into a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative system. Together, all of you demonstrate what it means when business is a force for good.
The leadership of B Corps is a powerful example. In a time of pandemic, global conflict, rising inequality, and climate crisis, our movement is gaining traction in a broader business world seeking strategies for resilience and evolution. More large companies have been pursuing certification, and some have become B Corps.
We’ve been paying attention to our community’s conversations and questions about this issue. Some B Corps have voiced concerns about the potentially negative impacts of large companies joining the B Corp movement. We have been questioned about whether these companies are deserving of the certification. Some have asked: “Is B Lab lowering their standards in an effort to certify large companies?”
The answer unequivocally is no. We have not lowered our standards in order for large companies to certify, and we don’t have any intention to do so. B Lab’s standards are continually evolving to include more rigorous performance requirements, which are applied to all B Corps — regardless of size, geography, or industry. In fact, larger companies generally have to answer more (and more difficult) questions in the B Impact Assessment and meet higher requirements for verification, transparency, and additional factors in order to certify.
B Lab’s standards are also not the benchmark of business perfection, because there is no such thing as a perfect business. B Corp Certification requires a company to meet high standards of social and environmental performance that most businesses aren’t able to achieve. It’s also the beginning of a journey of continuous improvement that starts when folks sign up for the B Impact Assessment and is further enabled by their commitment to stakeholder governance. When we engage with and certify any company, regardless of size, we’re not designating them as flawless or absolving them of wrongdoing. We’re recognizing the high standards that they’ve already met while welcoming them into a movement that works collectively to improve practices and influence change — with an ultimate goal of making the economy work for all people, communities, and the planet.
This is why we view the inclusion of large companies alongside small and medium companies as a necessary evolution in the B Corp movement. If we want to change the system, we need to change companies of all sizes — big business, too. When large companies pursue certification, or use our standards and tools to improve their practices and take responsibility for their impact, the changes they make have a big influence on the broader economy. We don't need thousands of large companies to join the B Corp movement. We do need the right large companies to join us in this work: those that are ready to commit to authentically using business as a force for good — driven by the values of transparency, humility, and accountability that are central to the B Corp movement.
We welcome feedback regarding the continued evolution of B Lab’s standards, the B Impact Assessment, the SDG Action Manager, the B Corp movement, and how we can support our ever-growing community in a way that is inclusive, agile, and mission-aligned. Here’s how you can engage in B Lab’s collective and continuous improvement:
Join one of our upcoming consultations regarding the evolution of the B Corp standards. Stay tuned for more details on how to get involved.
Provide feedback to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org — I will share with the team to help guide us in our work.
Now more than ever, we have to work collectively to make business a force for good around the world. And as always, we’re grateful for your passion, belief in our Theory of Change, and leadership in the B Corp movement. As we say at B Lab, let’s get to work.
In community and with gratitude,
Eleanor | Lead Executive of B Lab Global