B Lab takes complaints seriously and appreciates those who come forward with them. Material complaints are overseen by B Lab's independent Standards Advisory Council. Learn more about our complaints process.
The B Impact Assessment examines a company's impact on their workers, community, environment, and customers. The BIA also asks questions about a company's governance structure and accountability. Questions are split into to categories: Operations, which covers a company's day-to-day activities, and Impact Business Models, which awards additional points for business models designed to create additional positive impact. The B Impact Assessment is updated every year to incorporate feedback and improve upon the standards. Learn more about the performance requirements for Certification.
The standards for B Corp Certification are overseen by B Lab's independent Standards Advisory Council. Members of the Standards Advisory Council bring industry and stakeholder expertise to bear during the three-year update cycle for the B Impact Assessment, complaints made against Certified B Corps, and material disclosures made by companies pursuing B Corp Certification.
All Certified B Corps share their B Impact Assessment overall scores and category scores on their public profiles on bcorporation.uk. Public companies and their subsidiaries have extra transparency requirements and make their entire B Impact Assessment public, with particularly sensitive information like revenue redacted. Companies that have material items, such as lawsuits, on their Disclosure Questionnaire may also be required to make that disclosure transparent as well. Learn more about the certification requirements.
B Corp Certification is based in part on a company's verified performance on the B Impact Assessment, which asks questions about a company's past fiscal year. This means that companies with less than one year of operations are not yet eligible for B Corp Certification. Instead, they may pursue Pending B Corp status, designed to set a start-up on the path to full Certification.
Any for-profit company with at least a year of operations may pursue B Corp Certification. There is no minimum or maximum size. Certain companies, such as those under a year old, those with related entities, or large multinational and public companies, have additional considerations and requirements.
Certified B Corporations pay an annual certification fee, which licenses them to use intellectual property like the Certified B Corp logo. This fee starts as low as £500 for certified B Corps and scales with revenue. If you have been operating for less than a year, you can become a Pending B Corp which is £250. You can see the full pricing schedule on the Certification page. Access to the B Impact Assessment is free.
The length of the certification process varies based on a company's size and complexity. Completing the B Impact Assessment requires a minimum of several hours. The verification process to finalise a company's score typically takes several weeks. Large multinationals or companies with many related entities should expect a longer process.
All Certified B Corps must meet a legal accountability requirement to maintain Certification. Your company's legal requirement will varies based on your location and structure.
Companies and other business forms wishing to become a B Corp in the UK will need to have or adopt governing documents which include a commitment to a ‘triple bottom line’ approach to business. In practice, for a typical business, this is likely to mean having an objects clause which states that it exists to promote the success of the business for the benefit of its shareholders but also to have a material positive impact on society and the environment.
The governing documents of B Corps will also need to state that the board members of the company need to consider a range of ‘stakeholder interests’ – including shareholders, employees, suppliers, society and the environment – when making decisions and, critically, that shareholder value is not the supreme consideration but is one factor amongst the many stakeholder interests which board members need to take into account when running the business.
For companies looking to certify as a B Corp in the UK, we have a step by step guide for amending your constitutional documents to include the B Corp legal language (the “Legal Test”).
Subsidiaries, franchises, and companies with related entities may pursue B Corp Certification, with certain limits. Subsidiaries of publicly-traded companies also must meet additional transparency requirements.
Yes! There's no minimum size for B Corp Certification. Your company size will influence the questions you have to answer on the B Impact Assessment to meet the performance requirement for Certification.
Each year B Lab releases lists of the Certified B Corps with scores in the top 10% of the community, broken down by size and impact area, called the Best for the World Lists. Check out the 2018 Best for the World honorees!
B Corp Certification isn't a perfect fit for every organization. Nonprofits, large multinationals, governmental organizations and companies of all sectors and sizes can join the B Economy by using B Lab's impact management and stakeholder governance tools.
Danone – and other big companies – are on the B Corp journey. Danone’s Chief Executive Officer, Emmanuel Faber, has publicly committed to a longer term goal of certifying Danone’s global operations as a B Corp; in the meantime, a number of Danone’s subsidiaries have already certified as B Corps, and many others are going through the process of measuring their environmental and social impact with a view to certification as well. The largest B Corp in the world is Danone North America and in the UK one of the largest B Corps is Danone’s fresh dairy products.
B Corp is a certification. Benefit Corporation is a legal form.
Benefit corporations and Certified B Corporations are often confused. The B Corp Certification is a third-party certification administered by the non-profit B Lab, based in part on a company's verified performance on the B Impact Assessment. The benefit corporation is a legal structure for a business, which exists in 34 states across USA, Italy and Colombia. Benefit corporations are legally empowered to pursue positive stakeholder impact alongside profit. Some companies are both Certified B Corporations and benefit corporations, and the benefit corporation structure fulfills the legal accountability requirement of B Corp Certification. Learn more about the legal form in the UK.
Government can support the movement of B Corps by matching the facts about the working poor, the inequitable distribution of proceeds gained from business, with the opportunity to support a wider base of businesses that operate in everyone’s interests, not just the few that might be shareholders or directors. Government has the power to create policy and legislative frameworks that endorse this as the default way for businesses to operate. There are three areas in which Government could influence the shape of our economy in favour of many, not a few:
By procuring goods and services from companies, such as B Corps and social enterprise and businesses, which are focused on and are able to account for the broader social and environmental impact they create. The Welsh Government has led the way globally here by enacting the Wellbeing of Future Generations law. This requires that all procurement decisions from public bodies consider the implications on current and future communities and citizens. B Lab UK will continue to lobby for this long term, inclusive approach to be implemented and accounted for in public procurement strategies.
By creating a new legal form in primary legislation which is designed to serve the interests of all, not a few.
By ensuring that companies measure their impact on society and the environment and report on it to their customers, clients, and to all their stakeholders. This enables them to feel authentically served by the company they work for, shop with, invest in or partner with. By combining support for certification of B Corps with improved accountability of all companies, it will become easier to identify those companies that are committed to creating benefit from all from those who merely talk about it. Through this approach, we expect that businesses that create a negative impact will be exposed and forced to reform.
We’re different, but highly aligned and sing from the same song sheet.
First of all, let’s define B Corps. B Corps are for–profit businesses which commit to create a material positive impact on society and the environment through their operations. They may certify as a B Corp by earning points on the B Impact Assessment either / both by directly addressing a social or environmental need as their core revenue stream; (i.e. through what they do - such as providing a service which tackles a particular social or environmental need e.g. Big Issue); and / or by how they do business (such as how they support their staff, their community and whether and how they measure and seek to reduce their environmental footprint etc in their operations, e.g. COOK).
There are points in the assessment accorded to both of these dimensions and there are many permutations in how the threshold score of 80 points can be achieved. This allows for a broad range of businesses from over 150 industries to be part of the B Corp movement.
In the UK, we are fortunate to have such a developed concept of social enterprise and an active community of businesses who are focused on achieving better outcomes around social and environmental areas. For further details on the criteria to meet the UK social enterprise definition, including the required use of profits and asset locks, see the SEUK website.
So whilst there may certainly be some social enterprises that also certify as B Corps, the majority of B Corps in the UK would not self-classify as social enterprises under the UK definition. B Lab’s focus is building on the powerful examples of social enterprises and extending it to support mainstream businesses that give the same rigour to their social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns. We see this as a great opportunity to make a difference at scale and by doing so, to reinvent the role of business in society.
US tertiary education company Laureate was the first B Corp to go public and raise capital via an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2017. It raised $430m through Nasdaq and a further $380m from private equity firms such as KKR. The B Corp certification was seen as an attraction as the value of the impact focus was recognised by investors.
We also see an interest in comparatively smaller, newer B Corps, (such as Pukka Herbs and People against Dirty), being purchased by larger more traditional companies (such as Unilever and SC Johnson respectively). This benefits both parties: the purchaser recognises the value of the B Corp certification in attracting and retaining talent and in its appeal to a wider customer base, and the purchased company is offered a route to exit whilst ensuring that the mission of the company is protected.
Any business can become a B Corp as long as it meets the criteria.
The B Impact Assessment enables a business to measure and manage its environmental and social impact. The assessment and review process delves further using the Disclosure Questionnaire and our own Due Diligence to ensure that there is no material breach of the interdependence code that must be signed for certification. This code commits B Corps to creating a positive impact for people and planet whilst generating profits.
Our Theory of Change is that any company that is committed to creating social and environmental impact, whatever their previous activities, can consider certification. B Lab needs to assess whether an oil company has already put in place an alternative which creates a positive impact on the planet, such as substituting renewable energy sources for fossil fuels. B Lab will be considering how significant this is in its entire business operations, the extent to which this transition has already taken place, and whether the culture and processes are in place to ensure that this direction of travel is maintained and enhanced. We would not expect such a transition to happen quickly but it would be a journey we would welcome any company to go on.
For more on a future scenario where Exxon is a B Corp – check out this Forbes article from Paul Klein.
B Corp Certification is administered by Standards Analysts at the non-profit B Lab. Standards Analysts are located at B Lab's Pennsylvania, New York, and Amsterdam offices. The standards for B Corp Certification are overseen by B Lab's independent Standards Advisory Council.