Spring is upon us, which means many people in corporate America have recently completed the annual review process. The annual review process is a mechanism of accountability that gives an organization an opportunity to review employees’ goals achieved, progress made, as well as growth opportunities for the upcoming year. But how do companies hold themselves accountable to social and environmental responsibility? A B Corp Certification.
What is a B Corp?
B Corp, like the annual review process, is an accountability mechanism for companies to assess how they’re doing in achieving goals of corporate responsibility of having high employee morale and a positive social impact on the world around us. It is a certification aligned with a framework, provided by the non-profit B Lab, that certifies for-profit companies that meet rigorous standards of company-wide, social, and environmental performance by using accountability and transparency. These rigorous standards are assessed by four categories: governance, workers, community, and environment.
Why is a B Corp Certification Important?
Recently, Danone North America became the largest B Corp in America, following suit of key brands like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s. Collectively, these companies, like many others, believe that a B Corp certification is proof of a fundamental shift in how they operate and building trust with their customers. Today’s customers, particularly millennials, want lifestyle brands with a mission. Today’s employees, amid the war for talent, want to work for companies that are committed to giving back and making a difference.
The chart above shows the correlation between engagement scores and corporate responsibility. Employee engagement has been widely socialized as something of importance within the business world. Now, with more millennials entering the workforce, employee engagement of this generation is not only contingent upon better pay, but on the social responsibility initiatives of the employer.
A lot of companies incorporate these programs in response to the recognition of employees’ interest in corporate responsibility, but they rarely take the time out to assess the effectiveness of these programs. B Corp provides that framework.
What is the stakeholder benefit?
The metrics of the B Corp Certification are divided by impact areas: workers, benefits, training, community, environment, and governance. These measured impacts contain specific areas that include, compensation, benefits & training, diversity and local involvement, environmental products & services, and corporate accountability. The B Corp framework serves as a form of checks and balances for what affects company’s stakeholders.
Why is Corporate Responsibility relevant to businesses and how can the B Corp Certification help?
Employee engagement is a standalone reason for companies to seek continuous improvement by designating the B Corp framework to serve as a form of accountability for corporate responsibility which directly affects engagement. It is a way of migrating entrenched and established organizations to becoming equally stakeholder and shareholder-driven by using an assessment to hold themselves accountable for being socially responsible. It also helps gather lessons learned from bench-marked performance, in order to improve awareness, social outreach, and environmental empathy. In engaging in the B Corp assessment, organizations allow time to review company goals achieved, the progress made in the previous year, and the feedback to formulate more goals for the upcoming year. Corporate responsibility encompasses dual objectives of pursuing benefits for the business and for society.
The bottom line
Just like company-wide recognition and awards, B Corp results can be publicized information that can bring similar value to a “Best Places to Work” spotlight. A similar sense of pride in achieving a high score from B Corp metrics increases retention in a job market where these principles matter. In short, the B Corp certification is an opportunity for companies to continuously push themselves to “do good.” So where do you start? Just like implementing a new software, you need to understand the impacts and the necessities of a new framework. Here is a look at B Corp’s Quick Impact Assessment. This can be used as a preliminary step to have a better understanding of the relevance in engaging in a more in-depth assessment process.