B Corp, the necessary revolution of business ethics

Businesses worldwide have begun a demanding journey: to become “Better companies FOR the world”, integrating the notions of social impact and social gains into their daily agenda. The B-Corp Certification in the best guarantee of this evolution. A moral evolution vital for our planet.

Withfor

31 December 2018 |

Economic expansion at any price is putting our planet at risk, and with it an entire civilisation, we need to change the paradigm. Simply denouncing it is no longer sufficient. In the search of reason (and a solution), some pioneering businesses have opted to reconsider the notion of economic success to include collective or social gains. These gains should find their place in the heart of every 21st century business. So it was that in 2006 the B Corporation movement came into being, stemming from the concept of positive impact.  Living up to its ideals, isn’t this the sign of genuine success?

 

A change in awareness 

What do names as different as Natura, Patagonia, Change.org or Tridos Bank all have in common? They have realised that the objectives of a business cannot be solely to achieve maximum profits as quickly as possible, or to take pride in being the best businesses in the world. They have discovered that above all they must transform themselves into the best businesses for the world. With this intention, these businesses have an increased capacity to attract and retain their employees. This ethical twist is the essence of the B movement.

A global movement

As is the B movement, a 21st century business movement.  Launched with a simple observation: it would be easier to change, in other words improve, the world, if the economic fabric was aware of its impact on society. Today's world is governed by the economy, so all change needs to come from the business…

B Corp Businesses are businesses striving to make positive impacts both socially and environmentally, in other words, using the instruments and incentives of the marketplace to answer social and environmental challenges. Today, the B Corp system has transformed into a network comprising over 2,500 businesses (also convincing, their investors and consumers) all linked to the same system of values and requirements. 

In Spain, the process is controlled by the subsidiary B Lab Spain. Interested businesses can attend the presentation seminars, regularly organised by Blab in large cities (they're called “B Good Day”). They provide the opportunity to understand the basic concepts and exchange enthusiasm and doubts with other entrepreneurs. 

  
How does it work?

According to Juan Antoni Melé from Triodos Bank, put simply “B Corp is a certification like those of fair trade or ecological agriculture, but for the whole business. It answers to the highest standards of performance, transparency and responsibility and translates into a better way of doing business: better for employees, for communities and for the environment.
To become accredited as such, B Corp businesses must simultaneously comply with:

  • High standards of social and environmental performance 
  • Meeting the highest standards of legal accountability
  • Meeting with transparency criteria

 

The origin

It all began in 2006 when the founders of the well-known American footwear brand, AND1, sold their business. Shortly after, the new owners put an end to the social and environmental policies that had been in place since its origin; the disappointment was enormous. The consequence was the creation of B Lab, the non-profit organisation which promotes the B Corporation certificate. Its motto: identify and recognise the best business FOR the world. This will mark a before and after in the history of business ethics.

 

What does it mean to be a B Corp?

The certification process begins with a self-evaluation which the businesses carry out online. Five fundamental points are considered:

  • Management or decision making, 
  • The area of employees,
  • Concern for the community, 
  • Interest in the environment, 
  • Relationships with clients and suppliers.

After completing the report, the system evaluates the business on a scale of 200 points. If the business obtains more than 80 points, a revision can be requested and a set of documentation sent for a team of analysts to verify that the requirements have really been met. The B Corp movement also presents a new management system that looks to measure and process the economic, social and environmental results of the business. 

At the same time, the B Corp business must meet the legal requirements by making changes to the articles of association in order to consider the employees, the community and the environment, in a binding manner, when making decisions.

At this point, the business receives the certificate, valid for two years and renewable following a new validation process. With regard to the costs of the certification, the basic rate is 500 euros, as long as the business’s annual turnover doesn't exceed 150,000 euros. The annual rate increases in accordance with the business's turnover. 

 

What does a business gain from this certificate?

  • What B Corp offers a business cannot be defined as something material. It requires a compromise, but has many advantages:
  • Differentiation and leadership through social and environmental commitment
  • Excellence in the continuous improvement of business management performance
  • Belonging to a community of leading businesses in sustainability
  • Attraction of talent
  • Attraction of investors and capital
  • Benchmarking with like-minded business based on reliable information
  • Visibility and media coverage
  • Discounts on services and products from B Corp businesses

 

A long and thorough process

It is true. The business environment is changing and this wheel isn`t going to stop turning. This we can draw from the growth being experienced by the B Corp movement.

Over 80% of Spanish B Corp companies fit the profile of startups and SMEs. They are businesses with a clear vocation of impact from their foundation, which makes things easier. Some multinationals have joined the movement, but for these organisations it entails a project with enormous internal repercussions as it involves 100% of the business and its subsidiaries. Currently, over 600 businesses are in the process of B Corp certification globally of which 50 are Spanish. Only one is an estate agency. 

Can you guess which one?

 

Here you can find a summary of the B Economy.

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