Best of both worlds? Business and social responsibility.

Business and social responsibility – can you believe the two can both exist in a business setting? Yes, they can – and as of 2007, a growing number of businesses are aiming for a certification that can pretty reliably and thoroughly make this judgment call.

 

This past Wednesday, I attended an event at NextSpace (an awesome co-working space where my sister also happens to work) and saw a great presentation on benefit corporations – also known as B Corps.

 

benefit-corporation

Benefit corporation logo

 

B Corp status is a certification that a business can achieve on top of their regular business status and sees itself as a way to redefine business and provide a better framework to judge the success of an organization: instead of judging a company by the profits it makes, why not also take into consideration how it treats its employees, its effects on the environment and on local communities.

 

To become a B Corp, a corporation must pass high standards of :

– social and environmental performance

– accountability

– transparency

 

Certification is given out by a non-profit organization called B Lab.

 

In plain language, a B Corp is a corporation that doesn’t only think about the bottom line, but about the entire ecosystem of what it is impacting: the its employees, its stakeholders, the environment, the world. A variety of factors are taken into account to assess a corporation to see if it fits the high bar set for a benefit corporation.

 

Today, B Corps numbers around 750 – companies like Patagonia, Method, Ben and Jerry’s and King Arthur Flour are certified with B Corp status.

 

Brownie-Chew-Gooder

 

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? I see this as a movement to keep an eye on: as more well-known brands start joining, this will hopefully increase the standards and demand for such a type of certification by employees and consumers alike, eventually causing pressure for other companies to join in.

 

Are you familiar with the B Corp certification, or have you worked for a B Corp yourself? Judging from your own experiences at your company (B Corp or not), do you think this idea will gain widespread traction quickly?

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