Revisiting the proposed changes to the standards for B Corp Certification
B Lab, and the supporting B Corp movement, have big ambitions to transform the economic system. The vision? An inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all people, communities, and the planet. B Corp Certification is in demand like never before, motivated by growing support for this vision; for businesses to take action on the environmental and societal challenges we collectively face, and demand for our system to change.
To deliver on this demand, we must evolve the standards for B Corp Certification, along with our enabling tools and processes. We must give all companies the clarity needed to galvanize impactful business actions and focus on what really matters. B Corp Certification is meant to shine a light on those leading the way in business and should meaningfully demonstrate the leadership role that B Corps and the B Corp movement play in the world, including a commitment to continuous improvement.
In September 2022, the first draft of the new standards for B Corp Certification was shared in a preliminary public consultation, with over 1000+ respondents providing feedback. Since then, these standards have been further developed, addressing said prevalent feedback, with a second consultation launching in January 2024 (register your interest to share feedback).
With the second consultation fast approaching, we’re sharing a refresher on the proposed fundamental changes to the new standards and how these would raise the bar for business. Keep reading to be in-the-know about what’s ahead:
1. B Corps must meet performance requirements across Impact Topics
The current standards for B Corp Certification are based on a flexible approach linked to achieving an 80-point score across five impact areas measured in the B Impact Assessment; Workers, Customers, Community, Environment, Governance. For the proposed new standards, B Corps must meet specific performance requirements across social, environmental, and governance standards topics - known as Impact Topics. These requirements will be tailored to a company’s context according to factors including size, sector and geography of operation and have been revised and updated based on feedback from the preliminary consultation, research and interviews (with experts from consultancies, civil society or sustainability organizations), and inputs from B Lab's standards governing bodies.
2. Clear, concrete performance improvement at recertification
Though a mindset of continuous improvement is prevalent and encouraged across the B Corp community (businesses are required to recertify on a regular basis, an example being The Guardian who have just recertified with +17% score), currently companies must maintain their 80-point score in order to remain certified. Under the new proposed standards, at recertification companies must prove continuous improvement, demonstrate ongoing compliance with the requirements, and share progress on topic-specific plans and goals.
Further detail on the Impact Topics, how the latest draft standards are tailored to a company’s context and how they aim to drive continuous improvement will be outlined in upcoming communications and shared for feedback during the second consultation.
Efforts invested towards having a positive impact on the world and being a leading company are never a waste. The intent of the new performance requirements is not to invalidate a company’s previous efforts, rather to focus future efforts on a set of comprehensive issues ensuring that certification is relevant for the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Some of the efforts that companies have taken on the current impact areas of Workers, Customers, Community, Environment, Governance will align closely with the proposed performance requirements of the new Impact Topics, resulting in minimal efforts from your side. However, topics which have not been a priority area for a company will likely require additional effort and investment and B Corps are likely to be at different stages of achievement.
Standards changes are never designed in such a way to automatically remove existing B Corps from the community, and this process will be no different. B Lab wants to ensure our community has time and resources to meet the new standards, so they will be rolled out gradually in a phased manner. No company will certify or recertify on the new standards for B Corp Certification before 2025.