What Are B Corporations and How Does a Company Become One?

By Mali Anderson in Thinking Sustainably

We all want our purchases to support mindful and conscious businesses, but sometimes it can be difficult to know which companies share those values. That's where Certified B Corporations (B Corps) come in. These businesses are vetted for balancing profit and purpose, and consciously seeking out the goods and services of B Corps may help you feel more confident in how your purchases impact society at large.

The B Corp movement started in 2006 when three friends created an organization dedicated to making it easier for mission-driven companies to protect and improve their positive impact. While Tom's of Maine has been committed to reducing environmental impact and promoting community stewardship for nearly fifty years, achieving B Corp certification is another milestone in the company's commitment to global good.

What Are B Corporations?

B Corp businesses meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, as well as uphold public transparency and legal accountability for their actions. More specifically, the B Corp community works toward reducing poverty and inequality while promoting a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of higher quality jobs with purpose and dignity.

There are currently 3,000 B Corps across the globe. About 1,500 of those are in the United States and Canada, with just over 1,000 in the US alone.

Giving employees time to give back.

How Do Companies Become Certified?

In order for a company to become a Certified B Corp, they must complete a B Impact Assessment, followed by a multistep verification process.

Certifying as a B Corp goes beyond a company's products and services. B Corp Certification is the only certification that measures the entire social and environmental performance of a company, including impact on employees, community, environment, and customers. This includes a business's supply chain and input materials, as well as charitable giving and employee benefits.

For example, the environmental section of the evaluation looks at a company's environmental performance through its facilities, materials, emissions, resources, and energy use. This means that companies must answer questions about their transportation and distribution channels, including the environmental impact of those supply chain decisions. The assessment also measures whether a company's products or services are designed to solve an environmental issue by looking closely at their contributions toward provision of renewable energy, conservation of resources, waste reduction, and land and wildlife conservation.

Companies must also meet certain transparency requirements and follow legal frameworks set by the B Corp Agreement. As part of the certification, Certified B Corps must consider the impact of their decisions on all their stakeholders.

What Are the Impacts of B Corps?

Using the influence of their businesses, B Corps are taking action to address social and environmental causes around the world, from tackling racial and gender injustices to confronting climate concerns. And as the movement itself grows, so does its impacts.

For instance, companies who advocate for social justice start by implementing responsible business practices internally, such as open hiring and the creation of career path platforms specifically for diverse groups. There are also companies advocating for policy shifts, such as for parental leave, and those demonstrating commitment to the environment through self-imposed carbon taxes.

Tom's of Maine's B Corp Values

Tom's of Maine has been creating natural care products while maintaining a long-standing commitment to caring for people and the planet since 1970. Certified in 2019, Tom's of Maine demonstrates B Corp values in a variety of ways:

  • The company has supported hundreds of nonprofits by giving back 10 percent of its profits.
  • Employees are encouraged to use 5 percent of their paid time (12 days) to volunteer for causes they are passionate about.
  • Most Tom's of Maine products are vegan, kosher, halal-certified, and gluten-free.
  • All product packaging is recyclable through a partnership with recycling leader TerraCycle or participating municipalities.

Wind power to reduce environmental impact.

Consciously Choosing B Corps

"By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment," says Becca Quirk, Senior Associate, Community Engagement at B Lab, the nonprofit whose initiatives include B Corp Certification.

Choosing to purchase goods and services from a B Corp means that you are supporting a company that shares your beliefs and becoming part of a community committed to social good, sustainability, public accountability, and environmental performance standards. And with a community of 3,000 companies in 150 industries across 64 countries working together for a better world, you can find them all around!

Do you support B Corps? Show us how you support social change with your favorite B Corp and tag @toms_of_maine on Instagram!

Image Source: Pixabay | Pixabay | Pixabay

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It's Good

B Corporations are businesses that balance profit and purpose. When you support B Corporations, you are giving your dollars to companies who share your values and advocate for change. With your purchases, you are part of a community working together for a better world.