B-Excited: How can your business become a B Corp? Posted on December 23, 2022 by Stephanos Taking you through the process now that Zebra Growth is B Corp certified Ever wondered how a business becomes a B Corp? In this article we’ll cover: Zebra Growth’s B Corp Status and what it means to us What is a B Corp? How are B Corp businesses changing the way we think of business? How can you become a B Corp? The process of becoming a B Corp BIA: The free tool tool for assessing your impact Our 10 favourite B Corp certified businesses Are you a social impact startup or scaleup and looking to enhance your commitments to social progress? Maybe you’re just genuinely curious about all these companies that suddenly have a shiny B graphic slapped on their website. Either way, your curiosity has put you in search of what a B Corp is and now you’ve found yourself asking: how does a business become a B Corp? In that case, we’ve got you covered. Before we answer all those burning questions, we’ve got a small announcement of our own (3 guesses what it is). Gather the herd: Zebra Growth has an Announcement At Zebra Growth, we’re all about championing the changemakers who want to bring balance to the business world. Our focus is to educate and co-create with social impact startups and scaleups, so that we can achieve a regenerative economy. And we’re at our best when we’re working with the social pioneers who are making a real positive impact on humanity and the planet. But as a growing startup ourselves, it’s important to acknowledge our own progress.That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to announce we are now a certified B Corporation! What does the B Corp certification mean to us? It’s a huge honour for us to achieve B Corp status. We are humbled to be counted among the many other businesses that are leading a global movement for an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy. And since zebras love to travel in herds, it’s no surprise that we believe in the power of community. We can’t wait to see what new connections and collaborations will come from our B Corp certification. A huge shout out to our team here at Zebra for helping us get to this point, and by truly living by the values of what it means to be a B Corp certified company. Of course, this is just a small step to shifting our collective mindset towards a regenerative economy. We’re just one of thousands of changemakers who want to use business as a force for good. It’s going to take time, collaboration and resilience but we’re excited to be part of the change. With that out the way, let’s dive into what a B Corp is and find out how it could be the next step for your business. What is a B Corp? Before we jump straight into what a B Corp certified business is, we should start with who does the certifying – B Lab.B Lab is a non profit network that focuses on changing the global economy for the better of people and planet. Their mission is to change businesses into a force for good. In their own words, “B Lab creates standards, policies, tools, and programs that shift the behaviour, culture, and structural underpinnings of capitalism.” So where do B Corps come into play? Certified B Corps are companies verified by B Lab that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. This isn’t to say these companies are perfect, but rather they have clear processes in place for creating positive impact, safeguarding employees and customers while ensuring they balance profitability with purpose. B Corp status isn’t the B-all and end-all So you’re a social impact startup or scaleup and you’re focused on making a change to the business world? That’s amazing! Now, you’re looking for the next step to commit to social progress – what better way than to become a B Corp? Don’t get us wrong, becoming a B Corp isn’t the answer to all the world’s (or your business’s) problems. But the end goal here isn’t to become B Corp certified (which might sound weird since you’re going for a B Corp certification). Rather, it’s about taking the time to delve deep into your business and its practices. By truly understanding how your business operates, the impact you have and what changes need to be made, you’ll create a more positive impact for all stakeholders and across your business. And by doing so, you’re using your business as a force for good. Then, you can make a real commitment to these practices and solidify this with your B Corp certification. Like we said, becoming a B corp isn’t the end game. It’s a step towards challenging the degenerative ‘business as usual’ model and balancing profit with purpose. And we do this by being one small part of a community of changemakers, driving towards a regenerative economy. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how your regenerative business can take the steps to become a B Corp. The process of becoming a B Corp Becoming a B Corp takes time. Like a proper long time. Be prepared to spend a lot of time researching and revising, then re-revising your processes and implementing changes. For us Zebras, the total process took 18 months. But don’t get us wrong – that’s the whole point. As we’ve mentioned, you’re taking an in-depth look at how your business operates and finding areas to improve. And the payoff is worth it. The real value of becoming a B Corp certified company is by going through the process and discovering how your business can be better and then making those changes.Whether you’re whisked straight to certification (it’s not likely but who knows!) or you miss the mark, there will always be something within your business practices that can be improved, and that’s kinda the whole idea behind the B Corp certification. So what’s the steps to becoming a B Corp? B Lab has plenty of resources to help you on your way to receiving certification. And the actual steps to become a B Corp are pretty straightforward, if lengthy; Confirm you can certify If you have at least 12 months of operations and are a for profit business in a competitive market, good news! You can apply for B Corp certification. B Impact Assessment (BIA) B Lab offers a free, confidential online tool to help you assess your business – The B Impact Assessment (BIA). Here you will assess all the areas of your business in great detail (we’ll even cover it in greater detail, below) and once completed, B Lab will give your business its impact score once completed. Improving your Score The next step is to look at improving your score, and you’ll need to spend a lot of time reassessing where you can improve your business practices. To achieve B Corp status, businesses need an impact score of at least 80 to certify as a B Corp and this is rare the first time round. B Lab offers useful tools within the assessment to help highlight pain points and help with prioritising tasks. Remember: Improving your score means improving your business practices, that’s why the process is so important. Focus on improving how you operate and not just fixing things to achieve a better score. Meet the Legal Requirement Once you’ve improved your impact score to reach 80+, you’ll need to make amendments to your governing documents. The certification requires you to adopt specific wording to your Articles of Association. Reinforcing your commitments to consider the impact of all business decisions for all stakeholders in your business. (yet another incentive to push progress!) Submit & Review Hooray! Now you’re ready to submit. You’ll need to fill in B Lab’s disclosure questionnaire and submit your completed assessment. This will be reviewed by their independent standards team. Take the time here to keep working on improving your score and engage with B Lab to provide further evidence of the answer you’ve given in your assessment. This includes giving evidence to back up your answers from your own internal data over the last 12 months. After Certification Congrats! You’re now a shiny new B Corp, all that hard work paid off. You now need to sign the B Corp agreement and pay your annual fee. Of course it’s time to share the news and celebrate but remember that this is a small step towards a greater goal. Being a B Corp isn’t about being the first, or best single business but being a part of a community that is committed to using business to improve society. And, as we’ve mentioned, the work doesn’t stop here. You’ll need to recertify every 3 years and continue to achieve an impact score of at least 80. Which is a great way to keep us on our toes and consistently work at improving our impact.Now we’ve got the process covered, let’s look at the BIA in more detail. Assessing your Impact with BIA The BIA is a rigorous tool that takes you through around 200 questions that assess your business. Providing you insight into how purpose driven your business operations are. So what areas does the assessment cover? Governance From your code of ethics to mission & engagement, you’ll be assessed on the internal policies and practices of your business. Workers Are your employees satisfied in their role? How are you safeguarding their health and well-being? These are just some of the areas to consider when assessing how your business supports employees. Environment Regardless of the industry, your business will have an impact on the environment. Here you will assess what processes you have in place to ensure you’re being mindful of the planet and its resources. Community Community covers a wide range of topics, like engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion. Here it’s about looking at how your business positively engages with external stakeholders. Customers We can’t have a business without customers, but do we have processes in place to receive customer feedback and handle complaints? How are we measuring customer satisfaction and putting their well-being as a priority? Understanding your relationship with your customers is key to creating a positive impact. The next steps Now that you’ve scrutinised every aspect of your business, completed the questions and provided your evidence to B Lab, you can submit your assessment and you’ll be given your impact score. Out of a possible score of 250+, businesses need to achieve a score of at least 80 to become B Corp certified. For reference, the median score for ordinary businesses who complete the B Corp assessment is 50.9. Here at Zebra, we were thrilled to receive an impact score of 90. Of course, achieving a lower score isn’t a bad thing either – making the effort to take the test alone is a sign businesses are on the right track! Regardless of the score, every B Corp certified business will have areas to improve, and the point of the certification is to keep businesses focused operating with purpose for the good of all stakeholders. Like we said, it’s about using business as a force for good. Now that we know how it’s done, let’s take a look at some of the amazing B Corps who are changing the way we see business. Our 10 B Corps to B inspired by: Bosquia – Promoting reforestation for companies and individuals Brewgooder – Turning beer into water (not literally) allplants – Helping transform the planet through sustainable vegan food subscriptions The Body Shop – Making an impact on the beauty industry with ethically sourced and naturally-based ingredients The Cheeky Panda – Keeping the luxury in household goods without compromising humanity or the planet Better World Books – Spreading knowledge and driving sustainability Anne Mulaire – Returning to Nature with Slow Fashion Mana Earthly Paradise – Redefining sustainability in tourism Sinba – Helping companies and individuals co-create a world without trash Lily’s Kitchen – Making a positive impact with pet food It’s so inspiring to see the progress they’re making and we’re honoured to be a part of their community. The B-ginning (too much?) of a new chapter as a B Corp Receiving our B Corp certification is the culmination of a lot of time, energy and hard work from all of our team at Zebra. It’s been incredibly humbling to find a team where every individual truly understands what we’re working towards, embracing our values and vision of a regenerative economy. Being B Corp certified is a reminder we’re on the right path, but there’s still work to be done. As our Managing Director Lee says, it’s time for us Zebras to walk the walk. And moving into 2023, our main focus is to become a more regenerative business. This will help us achieve our vision of a new, regenerative economy. An economy that is run by ethically driven entrepreneurs who seek to balance profitable growth with creating positive societal impact. Not to mention the opportunities this certification gives us. It’s a chance to build on the already amazing community of changemakers around us. We’re excited to engage with a diverse group of social pioneers and come together to share ideas and co-create for the benefit of people, planet and profit. Having this B Corp certification now allows us to lean into the commitments we have made, as well as make the improvements we need to accelerate our transition into a fully regenerative business. Finally, we want to thank all of the inspiring changemakers we have worked with this past year. Your collaborations, challenges and insights have helped us to grow and allowed us to learn what it truly takes to change the business world. And we can’t wait to get started. We’re excited to be a part of the change and look forward to seeing the positive impact that this community will make in 2023. P.S. We were thrilled to host the Director of B Corp Portugal, Luis Amado at our Lunch & Learn this week. He really put into perspective what it means to be a B Corp and the impact businesses can have when working as a community. Want to hear more? Are you looking to build regenerative growth? We’d love to collaborate with you! Why not book a call with Lee, our Managing Director to see how your startup can create the most impact in 2023.