It’s challenging to know how a business really does business: How do they treat their employees? Do they try to reduce their impacts on the environment? Are they striving to contribute more to their community? A certification process called B Corp makes answers to these questions more transparent. “[It’s] like the Fair Trade label but for a whole company, not just a bag of coffee,” says Jay Coen Gilbert, B Lab Co-Founder, the nonprofit that certifies B Corps businesses.
There are currently 910 Certified B Corps (the B is short for Benefit) from 24 countries — and we’re lucky to have one in our own neck of the woods: W.S. Badger Company, Inc. in Gilsum, a locally owned company that makes healing balms, lip balms, sunscreens and other personal care products. Since 2011, Badger is “measuring what matters” as a Certified B Corp. Sure, Badger is measuring profits — but to them, money is the fuel, not the end goal.
According to Rebecca Hamilton, Badger’s Director of Product Development, they had many motivations for pursuing B Corp certification. Badger’s products are already certified organic and fair trade, but they wanted a more holistic way to measure how well they do business. B Corp certification helps Badger benchmark their progress towards sustainability, showing them clear and real opportunities for positive growth and better ways to do business.
Another part of Badger’s motivation to become certified was to ensure the company continued to “do good” while experiencing growth — even if leadership suddenly changed. “As a small company, we knew at our core what was right; but little structure was in place to document these as policies,” shares Rebecca. “We wanted to build these practices into the DNA of the company.”
Mary Cabot, CEO of another B Corps, Dansko Footwear, sums it up nicely with this quote: “Just like you want your child to grow up healthy and outlive you as a parent, we want our company to as well. B Corps help us have faith that this can happen.”
View how Badger ranks as a B Corp at www.bcorporation.net/badger.
So, what about you? Let’s say you’re not a business owner – how can you support B Corps and encourage others to explore this different way of doing business? Tell your boss about B Corp Certification. Any business can fill out the B Impact Assessment online for free and see how they rank. More than 15,000 businesses use the B Impact Assessment to benchmark their performance and help them set goals for continuous improvement.
To become a Certified B Corp a business must earn at least 80 out of 200 points in the B Impact Assessment and pay a certification fee. It took Badger about one hour to fill out the assessment and then the fact checking process took a couple of days. The certified company receives a full report with recommendations from B Lab. Certification must be renewed annually, and standards are stringent and continually revised to make sure companies are really “doing good.”
Another way to support B Corps is to ask your favorite locally owned businesses to carry B Corps Certified products. Browse companies on the B Corp website (www.bcorporation.net) and share your favorites – perhaps King Arthur Flour or Seventh Generation? You can also help by taking a look at what office products your workplace uses and encouraging your company to switch to products from Certified B Corps.
And finally, one of the ultimate ways to help is to advocate for the state of New Hampshire to recognize a new type of business – the Benefit Corporation. While B Corps is a certification offered by the nonprofit B Lab, a Benefit Corporation is a legal status run by the state. Benefit corporation laws are already enacted in 15 states, while others are pursuing legislation. Badger is working with Senator Molly Kelly on NH Legislation, Senate Bill 215. As of this writing, the bill was introduced on December 11, 2013 and referred to the Commerce Committee on January 8, 2014. We will keep you posted on their progress and how you can support this bill.