What is a B Corp and should you look to become one?

A B Corp is thinking in a new way… ‘People, Planet and Profits’. The purpose of this Article is to explain in further detail what becoming a B Corp entails and how Goughs can help you and your business.

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What is B Corp?

Certified B Corps are companies that meet the highest standards for social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. 

The third-party certification standard evaluates a company’s impact on all stakeholders- not just shareholders. The aim of many B Corps is to shift a global culture to redefine success in business and build a more sustainable and inclusive economy. 

There are currently over 4000 Certified B Corporations in more than 70 countries and over 150 industries.  In the UK, there are nearly 600 B Corps in various industries, including household names such as Coutts Bank, the Body Shop and Jamie Oliver Group.

What do you need to do to obtain certification?

There are 3 key steps that are involved to obtain B Corp certified.

Step 1: B Impact Assessment (BIA) 

Each applicant must complete a online self-assessment form (the BIA), answering questions about their company’s practices and outputs across 5 categories: governance, workers, community, the environment and customers.

To qualify your business must score at least 80 out of 200 in the assessment.  Questions are tailored to the size and sector of your business.

After completing the form, the B Lab team will rigorously analyse and verify the long-term validity of your claims to determine if your company meets the 80-point bar for certification.  You may be asked to produce supporting documents at this stage to verify your claims.

Any company may complete the free BIA self-assessment tool anytime to see how they score.

According to the B Lab “[i]t’s rare to achieve this first time and most businesses will spend time improving their score”. The B Lab provides a number of tools to help improve scores, as well as best practice guides.

Step 2: meet the legal accountability requirement 

In the UK, this involves amending your company’s Articles of Association to align your company’s constitution with the B Corp movement’s values, reflecting the company’s commitment to create a positive impact on society and the environment – demonstrating your commitment to the triple bottom line of ‘people, planet and profit’.

Step 3: submission and fees

Once you submit your assessment, you pay a one-off annual fee of (at the time of writing) £250+VAT to ensure your commitment to the verification process.

Once certified by the UK B Corp Lab, your company pays an annual fee based on its total revenue on the last set of audited accounts.

To maintain B Corp certification, your company must pass the BIA every 3 years.

What is the benefit of B Corp certification?

Certifying as a B Corp can attract the following benefits:

  • Improving impact through participation in working groups, sharing best practices and ongoing use of the BIA tool
  • Collaborating with other B Corps, joining B Locals around the UK and working together to find solutions to specific challenges
  • Networking and attending exclusive community events
  • Alignment with B Lab and the B Corp Community on global issues
  • Engaging employees in your company’s purpose and mission and attracting and retaining talent
  • Articulating your company’s mission externally to: investors, clients, customers, and suppliers.

Should your business become a B Corp?

Becoming a B Corp is certainly one way to show you care about more than just the bottom line.  Possible benefits that may follow certification include:

Building your brand and setting you apart from your competitors

Expanding your customer / client base and increasing retention – if you regularly submit bids in response to tenders that require you to provide a measurable positive impact on the environment and/or society, then B Corp certification is likely to help you stand out from the crowd.

Attracting new talented employees who align with B Corp values

Increasing investor interest – investment firms frequently apply the principles of environmental and social governance factors to analyse growth opportunities.

How can Goughs help?

Goughs have experience in advising businesses in meeting their legal accountability requirement as part of the process to become a B Corp.

Goughs have a dedicated corporate and commercial team that can help you grow your business and make you stand out from your competitors. Part of this may include B Corp certification if that is appropriate for your business. 

At Goughs we are more than just lawyers, we strive to be your trusted business advisers, ensuring we are at the forefront ready to provide the right advice at the right time. If you would like to find out more about what we do, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

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