Is your company considering B Corp certification? Anne Sherman, Director of Sustainability at Staach, created the business case for and led the teams at Staach through the B Corp certification process. Here she shares her top tips for success.
Before you embark on the certification process:
- Be clear about how B Corp certification can work for you: Becoming a certified B Corp comes with many benefits, and knowing your goals helps you identify the best strategy for engagement. The answer will be different for every company. For some, it helps attract and engage talent or investors; for others it’s about differentiation or generating press. For Staach, B Corp certification provided third party recognition for its existing efforts and a framework to evaluate and improve its performance. The goal is to find alignment with other goals of the business.
- Get to know more about the B Corp Community: The diverse and vibrant community of Certified B Corps can be a major asset before, during and after certification. They will be your peers, collaborators, and hopefully your clients, too! Search through the Community Portal or see if there is a networking event near you on the B Corp Calendar.
- Do the Quick Assessment: This is a great tool that enables you to take the B Corp assessment for a test drive and get a snapshot of your company’s impact. It won’t result in certification, but it will provide you with more insight on what is involved in the assessment process, and give you a rough indication of where your company stands.
- Allocate resources: To successfully manage and improve the environmental and social performance of the business, there needs to be someone empowered to dedicate at least some of their time to overseeing and supporting efforts across the company.
If you decide that B Corp certification is right for your business:
- Remember measurement is just the beginning: Don’t worry as much about where you are now, but use the information to help envision where you can go. Set goals, and make sure you have a combination of long term, big picture goals as well as short term, easy wins in order to keep motivation up.
- Find the right people: Think carefully about who in your company will have the information that you need to complete the B Corp certification. Who it is will vary from company to company but having the right members of your team engaged from the start helps you get the information you need and keeps the process moving. Involving key decision-makers is always beneficial – and will ideally influence broader decisions for the company.
- Inspire your teams: Employees want to feel good about the company that they work for and they can be great advocates for B Corp certification. Get buy-in from your teams early and spend time explaining and helping them to understand the value, and how their work is important to the process. Having your teams on board is also hugely helpful during the certification process and beyond as they will be your troops on the ground, helping you locate and gather the data you need and alerting you to opportunities for improvements.
- Start with the easy questions: The application does not have to be completed in one go. Start with the questions that you know how to answer and create a plan for what you need to do to get the information for the more challenging questions.
- Be prepared to track down data: Expect to do some work to find all the data required for the B Corp certification. Many questions will be easy to answer, but some will require extra research. Staach was in a fortunate position because it already had lots of the information readily available, however Anne still had to spend time identifying and collecting data. Remember to think ahead and set up systems to make the process easier the second time round.
- Make the most of B Lab resources: The B Lab team has so much knowledge and excitement and they never make it feel like a burden when you ask questions. The B Corp Handbook by Ryan Honeyman is a great tool for folks interested in or already using the B Corp Impact Assessment. It’s a wealth of information and case studies from companies who have been through the process and are working to improve their impacts.
- Talk to someone with experience: There is no comparison to talking through the certification process with someone who has been through it. If you don’t already know someone, ask the B Lab team and they will put you in touch with experienced B Corporation leaders, or look for upcoming events and webinars on the B Corp Calendar.