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The A-Z of B Corp - A guide to certification as a scaleup

It’s official…

After a 12 month journey navigating B Impact Assessments, creating and refreshing policies and deciphering what felt like an entirely new language at times… 

We’re B Corp certified!

Joining the likes of AllBirds, Boldspace, FundApps and Birdie, it’s been an exciting but complex path to one of the most prestigious certifications around.

But, driven by a commitment to genuinely wanting to do better in a world familiar with greenwashing, we’ve learnt many lessons along the way… 

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A is for a quick intro

Let’s go back to the start - Joining the B Corp movement means adhering to the highest standards across social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. 

B is for B Impact Assessment

Any business wanting to certify must conduct a B Impact Assessment. Acting as the overarching guide, this is designed to help you access, compare and improve how you’re conducting business.

To certify, at least 80 points need to be scored across five categories (for context, we scored 83.3), four of which are human, one of which is environment:

Community, Customers, Environment, Governance and Workers 

C is for community

As the first category, community measures how you score against factors contributing to the wider community. From diversity & inclusion policies to charity and gender-based programmes, this is a high-scoring area for many businesses. 

D is for diversity and inclusion

This is a theme of huge importance throughout the process, threading through several categories but predominantly focussing on how your company scores against attracting, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce representative of a wide customer base. 

E is for the environment

Delving further into the five B Impact Assessment categories, the environment sector covers the likes of emissions plus waste reporting targets and policies. 

F is for Future Shift

It wouldn’t be an A-Z without a huge shout-out for the team who helped guide us on our journey to the end result. 

Assisting teams of all shapes and sizes, from large-scale corporations to up-and-coming startups, Future Shift is the go-to for all things B Corp. 

G is for governance

Another of the five main categories, this section covers mission and governance policies including your commitment to social & environmental responsibilities, disclosing financial information, ethical practices & policies and business transparency. 

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H is for aiming higher

Throughout the journey you’ll feel encouraged to push yourselves to continually do better. Even if you find many of your existing processes and policies put you in a strong position, there’s always room for improvement. 

Aiming higher also applies to the recertification process, but we’ll save that for later… 

I is for Impact Reports

Once you get started, you’ll be legally obliged to publish an annual impact report. This contains anything performance and operations-related which could influence your social and environmental impact either now, or in the future.

J is for jargon-free

We know starting something new can feel overwhelming, and one overarching observation was how much of the B Corp language is Americanised. However, take it from us, it doesn’t take long to become familiarised, especially with the Future Shift team on hand to assist.

K is for knowing your customers

Getting into the detail of how your customers operate is another key component. 

How do you measure customer satisfaction, and does your business support a disadvantaged group? 

All of these will ladder up to scoring highly in this area. 

L is for legals

Your official legal documents - also known as articles of association - will require updating throughout your certification journey before submitting to Companies House. 

Take it from us, make sure your founder, CEO, or legal and operations team get on board early for this one, as it can be quite lengthy! 

M is for materiality assessment

Aka, the way to rank your business across each of the five categories.

At Kontor HQ, we conducted this last summer as a collaborative team session, engaging different opinions across the business, with post-its to spark discussion before deciding on final scores.

N is for not just green practices

As mentioned earlier, the five categories within the B Impact Assessment consist of four human and one environmental, showing B Corp isn’t restricted to all things green. 

In fact, social factors play as much a part as the environmental factors in creating a purpose-driven business

O is for putting people and the planet over profits

We all know the main priority for any business is of course revenue-driving. But, in the world of B Corp, if you want to do better it means changing for the better. 

Generally speaking, if you’re unable to prioritise this, the B Corp journey might not be for you. 

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P is for policies

Let’s say you’re passionate about meeting particular standards but don’t yet have documented policies in place, would this hinder your B Corp journey?

Thankfully not! 

These can be developed during the submission phase and still count towards your final score. 

Q is for quick wins

B Lab is full of useful quick wins to help improve your score, from sharing financial information with employees, to improving the transparency and clarity of your Data & Privacy Policy, and monitoring and recording energy, water and waste usage. 

R is for recertification.

Picture this: You’re officially B Corp certified! 

But, that’s not the end. Recertification takes place every 3 years, providing the opportunity to evolve how your company is conducted, how the team works together, and how you can continually strive to do better.

S is for submission

After submitting your B Impact Assessment alongside any supporting evidence, the timeline to official certification can take at least 3 months. 

During this time, you’ll be able to edit, update and supply further items, meaning your submission doesn’t have to be perfect from the word go.

T is for taking the time to check your criteria

Take it from us, allocating the time to check and re-check your criteria is a must

The questions you answer will be based on your industry, so no two will be exactly the same, but make sure you review the full scope before getting stuck in, to make sure you’re on the right path.

U is for understanding

No matter who’s leading the B Corp project, wider stakeholders - especially senior stakeholders - need to be brought on the journey at varying stages.

Engaging them early to get buy-in will make your life much easier in the long-run. Not only will they require sign-offs, you’ll also need to tap into their knowledge to gather vital information.

V is for vetting

If you create a product or work with multiple suppliers, each one will require vetting. 

This means ingredients suppliers, transportation practices and the rest, so make sure you factor it into the timeline.

W is for workers

The final of the five categories within the B Impact Assessment, workers is an area with huge potential for high scoring. 

HR policies, pension, supplementary health benefits including wellbeing apps (like Sonder, used by ourselves), and employee satisfaction are all encased in this section. 

X is for X-rated businesses

Ok, not that type of X-rated business, but there are particular limitations across industries in which you can work. 

As an example, only 1% of revenue can come from gambling companies. 

Y is for YES

As in, yes you’ll probably be surprised at how much is already in place to score highly, especially within the workers section.

Z is for getting in the zone

You’ve made it to the end, so it’s safe to say you’re fully-versed in all things B Corp.

Next, it’s time to get into the zone and look to make that positive change, all of which can be achieved if you’re willing to invest the time and resources to get there. 

And if you need any further persuasion, there’s plenty of case studies to get stuck into, not to mention our recent piece talking to Startups Magazine.

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By Jess Ward, Content Marketing Manager

Want to know more?

Let's chat! You can call us on +44 020 3770 4279 or email hello@kontor.com

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