B Corp Certification: What Does It Mean & Is It Important?

Step aside, nonprofits: the new corporate hero is the B Corp, blending profits and conscience.

Definition of B Corp
Definition of B Corp

Quick guide:

What is a B Corp?

B Corps, or Benefit Corporations, are for-profit companies certified by B Lab for high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

Unlike product-level certifications like USDA Organic or Certified Vegan, B Lab evaluates the overall impact of the company. This means assessing not just what the company sells or how it produces but also how its practices affect its employees, the community, and the environment at large.

What does the B Corp certification assess?

During B Lab’s Impact Assessment, during which the applicant has to score 80 out of 200 to become a certified B Corp, companies are evaluated in the following five key areas of impact:

  • Governance: Assesses a company’s mission, ethics, and engagement and evaluates how the mission and stakeholders’ interests are integrated into its governing structure.
  • Workers: Focuses not only on on employees’ financial security, health, wellness, and satisfaction, but also those of other workers in the supply chain.
  • Community: Measures engagement with communities in operations, hiring, and sourcing. Emphasizes diversity, civic engagement, and models targeting community challenges.
  • Environment: Reviews the environmental management and impacts of direct business operations, together with the impacts of supply chains and distribution channels.
  • Customers: Evaluates customer relations, product quality, and ethical marketing, together with the use of customer data and security.

How trustworthy is the certified B Corp label?

From a consumer’s perspective, the certified B Corp label is one of the most valuable indicators that a company adheres to a set of social, environmental, and ethical standards. All else being equal, it provides an easy way to support businesses with values that align with yours.

However, in regards to sustainability, it’s essential to consider it as just one of many factors when making a purchasing decision.

Also consider:

  • Preferring local producers: Local businesses directly enhance community well-being and can result in a smaller carbon footprint than a global B Corp.
  • Your personal needs: Buying a highly sustainable product that isn’t personally useful or needed is wasteful, even if it’s produced by a B Corp.
  • Supporting nonprofits: Nonprofits also often aim for social or environmental impacts but without the profit motive. As always, though, research before supporting.