An analyst's guide to the B Impact Assessment

Daisy Lavington, B Lab UK’s Business Sustainability Analyst, gives the lowdown on B Impact Assessment (BIA) best practice.

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By Daisy Lavington 

The BIA will ask you questions about your company that you may never have considered. It’s a great tool to work out where you stand and generate ideas for improvement. How can you make the most of what the BIA has to offer? Having reviewed over 275 applications at the Evaluation stage, I’ve noticed some common opportunities (and mistakes!). 

I’ll start with my most important piece of advice. Be intentional and specific about the impact you’re having, and don’t expect your journey to end at the point of the first certification being awarded. The BIA is a performance measurement tool designed to aid continual improvement, and while there are a number of practical steps you can take, it’s important to adopt a mindset of longer-term goal setting and planning. That’s a crucial part of being a B Corp! 

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Daisy Lavington is B Lab UK's Business Sustainability Analyst

Start by formalising your internal processes

As you set out to improve your practices and (consequently) your BIA score, putting formal policies behind your company’s operations is a great place to start. Whether you have whole teams behind you or are figuring this out for yourself, the Knowledge Base can help you get started with key documents such as the Supplier Code of Conduct and Employee handbook.  See this as more than paperwork; it’s so important to implement policies thoughtfully and ‘live’ them in your company, and monitor your progress! 

In order to set goals and improve, you need to know where you are. Start monitoring your environmental impact now, beginning with water, energy, emissions and waste. For guidance, check out an Environmental Management System such as ISO14001. Even if your employees work remotely, you can still survey them and use this data in your calculations. EcoAct’s Whitepaper on homeworking emissions provides some good guidance around a possible methodology. 

Its important to adopt a mindset of longer-term goal setting and planning. Thats a crucial part of being a B Corp!

Avoid these common mistakes

Make sure you’re on the right version of the assessment:The BIA is divided into a number of versions (or ‘tracks’). The one that’s right for you will depend on your sector, employee number and geographic market, so make sure these crucial details are correct. Find out more about track selection and how you can change your track.

Don’t overly rely on points from Impact Business Models (IBMs): These heavily weighted sections of the BIA credit companies with specific types of positive impact, and are difficult to obtain. Be careful not to rely on excessive (more than 20) IBM points to score over the 80 minimum requirement, as they can be challenged during the Evaluation stage. Make improvements elsewhere and see the IBM as a bonus if it’s awarded!

Having said this, IBMs are great to aim for. Webinars in our Impact Improvement Series will guide you through IBMs in each section of the BIA. Watch the Environment and Governance webinars now, and stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

Give yourself credit for paying the living wage: This is a fantastic benefit for employees and is rewarded in the BIA with 5+ points. Often companies do not give themselves credit for the family living wage question where credit is due. In the UK the Living Wage Foundation’s Minimum Income Standard methodology of calculating the living wage considers both individual and family living wage. Therefore the same answer can be provided for both the Individual and Family Living wage questions.

Learn from others!

The B Corp Community is full of purposeful businesses leading the way to tackle many of the problems we face today. From best practice insights in our 2021 Best for the World series to stories about B Corps taking Climate Action, Reinventing Business is a hub of inspiring content. What could be relevant to you? 

At the same time, be mindful of comparing yourself to other B Corps. We often get questions from companies who feel they should target an IBM because a competitor has one. But every business is unique and it’s better to focus on what you can do well.

If you're looking for specific advice, find a B Leader near you. B Leaders are sustainability professionals who can support businesses through the B Corp Certification process.

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Explore the functions of the BIA 

The BIA really is designed to help you measure and manage your impact. Are you aware of all the functionalities at your disposal?  

  • Bookmark Questions: Highlight the questions on the Assessment you wish to revisit by clicking the bookmark icon in the upper right corner of a question.
  • Learn More: access resources and explainers for each question by selecting the ‘learn more’ button. 
  • Look at the Improvement Report: this will automatically pick out questions which have potential improvement opportunities. 
  • Set Time-Bound Goals: create a roadmap with goals for improvements by clicking the star in the right-corner of questions. Set due dates, email reminders and add comments. 
  • Prioritise areas of improvement: Organise and prioritise questions with the Question Filter. Filter by question type, impact area, content, points available and other attributes. 
  • Collaborate with colleagues: Export content in full as a PDF or Excel spreadsheet to share with your team. (On the Question Filter, Bookmark Report and Improvement Report tabs see the Print PDF and Download buttons to access this).

To find out more about the certification process, check out our 5-step overview for oversight of the whole process. And for a more detailed look at each stage, make sure to download the complete guide

If you have any questions about using the BIA, check out our FAQs or get in touch with us at certification@bcorporation.uk.

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