We know that now, more than ever, consumers value brands that prioritize purpose and the planet. According to a study by McKinsey two out of three consumers reported their social values impact their purchase decisions. And for companies with purpose embedded in their organization already, becoming a B Corp is a great way to showcase that commitment. Becoming a Certified B Corp means the company has achieved a high standard of social and environmental performance as measured by the B Impact Assessment, verified their scores through transparency requirements, and made a legal commitment to consider all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
To achieve this high standard of social and environmental performance, a company needs to meet several requirements, including:
- Legal Status: The company must be legally incorporated as a for-profit entity in its respective country. For companies based in the U.S., depending on the state, they may be required to incorporate as a benefit corporation alongside their B Corp certification.
- Performance Assessment: The company must complete the B Impact Assessment, a comprehensive evaluation of the company's social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
- Verification: After completing the assessment, results are submitted to B Lab, for independent verification. Certified companies must receive a minimum score of 80 points.
- Legal Documentation: To ensure B Corps remain legally accountable to all of their stakeholders including workers, communities, customers, suppliers, and the environment, as well as their shareholders.
- Recertification: Once certified, the company must recertify every three years to maintain its B Corp status.
Since 2016, thinkPARALLAX’s B Corp status has led us to drive systemic change. As an ode to this year’s B Corp Month theme “We Go Beyond,” we thought it would be fun to share our B Corp journey, as well as those of fellow notable Southern California companies Boochcraft, Dr. Bronner’s, and Gifts for Good.
Why did you decide to become a B Corp?
Boochcraft: ”Ever since we started Boochcraft, giving back to the community, building strong relationships with suppliers, caring for our people, and caring for the Planet have always been important to us. So, in some ways, you could say that we began the journey to become a B Corp since day one. There was no question we wanted to become B Corp certified, but that doesn't mean that it was an easy journey. We wanted to keep ourselves and our community accountable for the things that we said we stood for. The B Corp seal of approval that helps us do just that. And the best part—we joined a community of other B Corps that share and support in our vision to do business differently.”
Dr. Bronner’s: “Dr. Bronner’s was founded in 1948 by Emanuel Bronner, a third-generation soapmaker from a German-Jewish soapmaking family. He used the labels on his soaps to spread his message that we must realize our transcendent unity across religious and ethnic divides: “We are All-One or None!” Still family-owned and run, Dr. Bronner’s honors its founder’s vision by making socially and environmentally responsible products of the highest quality—and by dedicating our profits to help make a better world.
In 2015, we chose to become B Corp-certified after legally becoming a Benefit Corporation because of B Corp Certification’s emphasis on rigor and emphasis on transparency—we expect the certification to hold businesses accountable for the good that they claim they do."
Gifts for Good: “Gifts for Good started as a class project while doing research on new ways to support nonprofits. The intention was always to become a B Corp, but there are a number of requirements so it took a long-term commitment for our startup. We launched the business in October 2017 and achieved certification in June 2020. It was a very proud day when we received the email we were official.”
thinkPARALLAX: “We started exploring what it meant to be a B Corp and became certified in 2016. Then we saw the impact it had on strengthening accountability around the way we do business and it was a no brainer to seek certification. The B Corp certification is a way for us to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk when it comes to responsible business. And as a company that advises other organizations on sustainable business, we especially need to make sure our own house is in order.”
How do your company values align to the qualifications of being a B Corp?
Boochcraft: “Our values are: Be Bold, Give a Sh*t, Do Better, Own It and Win Together. If you look at the mix of B Corp companies, old values and missions are shared among many. Our second value is potentially the most important one we have. It speaks to caring about what we are doing on this planet, caring about our people, and caring about our impact on the world. I think that value is at the heart of what it means to be a B Corp. “Do Better” means always improving and always looking at ourselves to see how we can step up our game— the B Corp scoring system gives us a metric to use for that process. “Own it” speaks to owning our mistakes and celebrating our wins. Wearing the B Corp badge is one of the ways in which we celebrate all of the good things we are doing in the world. “Win together” means we can't do it alone — we need a community that is aligned and moving toward the same shared vision. We have joined that community in the B-Corp.”
Dr. Bronner’s: “Most simply put, Emanuel Bronner’s vision, that “we are all-one or none,” means we are all connected on this planet. He used the phrase “constructive capitalism” back in the 1940s, long before “social enterprise”, “CSR”, or “ESG” were buzzwords in business. For him, constructive capitalism was the idea that businesses should share their profits with everyone who helped make them, including employees, suppliers, and the community. So in many ways, we were already practicing what it meant to be a B Corp long before the B Corp certification came around. We believe in the power of business as a force for good and regeneration for our planet.
For the most part our values of “All-One or None” and connectivity have always remained the same, however the B Corp community has taught us how to expand upon the values we have and share them in the modern world. For example, we have learned how to make our leave policy and benefits package more generous. Additionally, we lean on the B Corp process and community to learn how we think about and pursue racial and climate justice.”
Gifts for Good: “Our entire ethos is about how to do good with our business. Our values are empathy, innovation, quality, and using business for good. These have not changed, but they do align well with B Corp qualifications.”
thinkPARALLAX: “We have five values: connect the dots, create the unexpected, venture forward, bring out the best, and embrace parallax. Our values have evolved over time to help us redefine and realign with our internal needs, the desires of our clients, and the B Lab parameters. We use them as north stars because we recognize we are working towards something bigger than ourselves and thinkPARALLAX.“
How did your employees’, customers’ or consumers’ input play a role in your company's B Corp journey?
Boochcraft: “Our employees input played a role because it took a lot of effort from many people in our organization to make it a reality. From the B Corp process to all of the things we were already doing as an organization to help us become a B Corp, it certainly wouldn't have been possible without such a strong team. The B Corp certification has given us a great opportunity to reach out to our stakeholders and community to let them know what we stand for and to ask them to join us on this journey.”
Dr. Bronner’s: “Since the founding of our company, we have undertaken a wide range of social and environmental programming. Sometimes our own employees and customers do not know the amount of giving and work we do in the community! The third-party metrics that we report on and certification from B Corp help us illustrate to our customers the social and environmental good we do in the world.”
Gifts for Good: “We were asked about being a B Corp prior to certification, and we would always let our customers know it was our intention and that we were working towards it. It was a proud day when we got to share our official B Corp status with a score of 100.2. We have always shared our impact with our customers, but having an outside company certify our work was definitely a way to connect with them and be able to communicate that we were walking the walk."
thinkPARALLAX: “We believe our employees are some of the most important stakeholders in our business. Their feedback and workplace satisfaction is an important part of the way we operate. We’ve adapted our benefits over the years, including giving employees volunteer days, a yearly travel stipend so they can explore a new culture, providing two weeks a year where the whole company takes a break, and donating to a nonprofit of the employee’s choice on their birthday. We’ve found this helps create a more engaged workplace for our employees to grow. When it comes to our clients, their input is an important component of our projects. While we provide partners with the knowledge, perspective, and ideas to see sustainability challenges from new angles, we seek to build trust and open dialogues with our clients so they know they can give us honest feedback. It’s this two-way relationship that enables us to produce the best possible work and help move important impact-driven work forward.”