Introduction to the B Corporation Assessment and Certification

What is the B Corporation Impact Assessment?

The B Corporation Impact Assessment is the impact analysis tool, administered by the certifying agency B Lab (an organization wholly independent from B Revolution), that is used to measure performance for the B Corporation Certification.

The Assessment is offered publicly and for free by B Lab, here.  However, be aware that even how you set up the Assessment Profile will determine the number and difficulty of questions you will receive in the Assessment, and that even the Profile has specific nuances regarding categorization of employees, industry, and business model, that should be considered before attempting to complete the assessment.  If you mis-categorize your business, you may have to retake substantial portions of the assessment.

The number of points of analysis for startups typically ranges between 120 and 150, and for established businesses typically ranges from 150-350.  The Assessment covers all areas of a business’s operations, from Governance to Worker Practices, Community impacts, Environmental impacts, and finally, the impacts of the Business Model itself.  The metrics focus largely on policy infrastructure, program guidelines and documentation, quantitative impact tracking and calculations, and measured practices.

B Revolution’s services designed to support assessment completion and certification are described here for startups, and here for businesses.  Startups should also be aware of our ezBcorp tool, a resource to help early-stage ventures achieve legal formation, certification, and compliance at substantially reduced cost.

How Can a Business Become B Corporation Certified?

In order to become B Corporation certified, businesses must meet three requirements:

  1. The Performance Requirement.  Applicants must achieve at least an 80 our of 200 on the B Corporation Impact Assessment described above.
  2. The Legal Requirement.  The legal requirement for achieving certification varies by jurisdiction (our explanation of the jurisdictional variances serves as a useful primer) and B Revolution provides experienced counsel in order to select the appropriate jurisdiction to form the compliant entity, and to effectuate transition through board counsel, entity formation or transition, and, where necessary, shareholder advocacy assistance.  Learn more about our legal transition services here.
  3. The Compliance Requirement.  In order to become certified, applicant ventures must agree to consider stakeholders on an ongoing basis, comply with their reporting duties, and track metrics to stay compliant with their reported performance outcomes.  B Revolution helps ventures prepare for compliance by laying the appropriate framework and protocols, and then assisting with compliance tasks on an ongoing basis.

The certification process can be summarized in four steps, often undertaken over a three to four month period:

  1. The certification process begins with completing the B Corporation Impact Assessment, a 150-350 question assessment ;
  2. Applicants must then improve performance to achieve the minimum performance requirement of 80 out of 200;
  3. Next, applicants must undergo a rigorous 2 hour interview with a B Lab Standards Associate (B Lab the certifying body for B Corporations), during which time the applicant must provide sufficient verbal responses to a randomly-selected sample of the Impact Assessment questions;
  4. Finally, applicants must submit compliant documentation for 8-12 randomly-selected questions of the 150-350 addressed in the Assessment.

Why Do Businesses Need Help With Certification?

Because the B Corporation certification process is robust, of the companies that undertake the performance assessment on their own,  only approximately 5% achieve certification.  The most common reasons for certification failure include:

  1. Lack of Time.  Given competing goals and other objectives, most managers who have the knowledge necessary to complete the assessment simply to not have the time to dedicate to learning the nuances of the assessment and completing it.
  2. Insufficient Documentation.  Because the questions often analyze policies or practices most businesses do not have, many assessment-takers simply get stuck in the assessment because they begin working on a policy or program description, but never complete it because of the amount of work that goes into creating those policies and program descriptions.
  3. Existing Practices.  Because the B Corporation assessment is so comprehensive, most businesses simply have not considered the impacts measured in the assessment.  While this may present a shortfall, with experienced assistance this performance gap can also present great opportunities for innovation and strategic improvements.
  4. Assessment Confusion.  Although B Lab offers telephonic and email support for questions regarding the assessment, B Lab cannot help applicants decide what practices to implement, how to implement them, or how to strategically integrate the practices.  Moreover, because of the standardized nature of the assessment, many applicants simply have trouble understanding how to integrate a certain practice or policy in their business.

How Does B Revolution Help Businesses Get Certified?

In order to help clients achieve B Corporation certification, B Revolution assists businesses through every phase and aspect of the certification process.  Our certification services are described in much greater detail here for startups, and here for businesses.  Startups (defined here as businesses <$1M annual revenue, and with <10 employees) should also be aware of our ezBcorp tool, a resource to help early-stage ventures achieve legal formation, certification, and compliance at substantially reduced cost.

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