July 2, 2018 Kyle Crowley

Building Better Businesses: Certified B Corporations

It may seem that everyday there is a new designation for products and companies that go above and beyond what is required of them.  B Laboratory, the nonprofit organization responsible for certifying B Corporations (B Corps), claims “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.”   B Corp stands for Benefit Corporation, and its administrator B Lab strives to prove that businesses can pursue social justice, benefit the environment, and create an equitable organization, all while improving their financial success.  By definition, B Corporations are for-profit companies that “meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”  The designation is a legal one designed to “create a solid foundation for long term mission alignment and value creation,” ideally for the whole planet.

 

Drew Shula, VG Founder & Principal, speaks to a full room of attendees at ILFI’s Living Future 2018 unConference.

 

There are “more than 2,100 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and over 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.” Drew Shula, Founder and Principal of Verdical Group, a certified B Corporation since 2017, recently spoke about B Corporations at International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Living Future 2018 conference in Portland, Oregon.  He highlighted some of the many reasons businesses desire and pursue the standard, such as “differentiating from pretenders,” attracting investors and engaging talent, and partnering with peers whose missions align with the larger ideals and goals B Corporations pursue.  In addition to attracting personnel and partners, the B Corp designation can generate press, benchmark performance to improve operations further, help save money and access services, and even pass legislation; B Lab’s service partner discounts connect B Corps to valuable products and resources to help propel businesses forward.  On top of all of that, B Corps are leading an important movement that grows larger with every new participating company working to be not the best in the world, but the “best for the world.”

Everyday, our small (but efficient and impactful) team at Verdical Group lives the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence that was put forth upon our certification.  This entails:

 


“be the change we seek in the world,
all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered,
through our products, practices, and profits business should aspire to do no harm and benefit all,
and finally to act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.”

 

The designation “protects [company] mission through capital raises and leadership changes, creates more flexibility when evaluating potential sale and liquidity options, and prepares businesses to lead a mission-driven life post-IPO.”  Verdical Group proves that business can be used as a force for good in the global economy.  We efficiently manage projects and teams while always connecting our day-to-day work back to the bigger picture – completing projects that have a significant and positive environmental impact.  We are a for-profit company, but do not have a singular focus on profit.  We create value for our team, community, and the environment by maximizing the power of our business to do good.  As a Certified B Corporation, our mission and values are aligned with how we operate our business and the work that we do greening the built environment.  We measure the positive impact we have on our community through our education events, and the energy, water and waste reductions of our projects.

The practical workings of obtaining a B Corporation certification involve a few steps, most important of which is getting an 80 out of 200 on the B Impact Assessment.  The Performance Requirements within the Assessment are a “rigorous yet straightforward” way to validate a company’s social and environmental performance as well as accountability and transparency.  Anyone can complete the initial assessment, as only rough estimates are required to answer the questions.  The categories of inquiries include Governance, Workers, Community, and Environment, encompassing all the potential benefits and impacts of a corporation’s dealings with its employees, stakeholders, and larger community.  After that, supporting documentation will be required to back up the answers.  Following comments and approval, simply meet the legal incorporation requirements, and you have a B Corp!  10% of B Corporations will be subject to an in-person review to maintain the integrity of the distinguishing certification, but receiving the designation sends a clear message to competitors, as well as potential clients and customers, that your company values its mission both internally and in its dealings with others and the planet.

 

 

Some notable B Corporations thriving alongside Verdical Group include Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Method, Etsy, and Seventh Generation, among thousands of others.  The more companies added to this list, the more options clients and consumers have to support companies that have pledged, and are constantly proving, that they are doing the right thing while maintaining a successful business model.