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We’re already doing lots of sustainability work: why would we want to look at the B Corp model as well?

Independent validation

For example, as with B Corps:

Do your efforts have the credibility of third- party review or do we just have to believe what you say is accurate and not “greenwash”?

Do your efforts provide the credibility and confidence that attracts investor attention?

To stop believing your own hype

We hear this from executives all the time: we're doing a great job. Senior Leadership's view on how good they are doing counts for very little.

You might think you're doing a good job but there is always a gap between what Senior Leadership believes about themselves and what everyone else thinks.

Leadership might be right: they might actually be doing quality things. But they have access and insight no one else does. This lack of broader ownership is a problem.

The gap - real or imaginary - is actually a material risk. It means you are not aware enough of how your employees feel or what the market's perspective of you really is.

Interestingly, Senior Leaders at authentically sustainable and purpose-driven businesses rarely ever say "we don't need help". They are hungry to be better and challenged and will do everything they can to improve. And they operate with universal humility.

Benchmarking tool

For example, as with B Corps:

Are you able to compare your efforts to where you were previously?

Are your efforts benchmarked against a group of companies (of all sectors and sizes) widely held up as standard-bearers of sustainable thinking?

Lead by example & collective voice

For example, as with B Corps:

Are your efforts part of an intentional movement of companies where the sum is greater than the parts?

Are you a member of a common-purpose driven community willing to shares ideas, expertise and relationships with each other?

Not just a standard or tick box: it’s a community

For example, as with B Corps:

Are the evaluation and best practice processes you use constantly updated by a collection of global experts across the whole business model?

Do your stakeholders feel you are subject to a peer-to-peer accountability beyond your own internal processes?

Have you ever been to a B Corp event? Go and experience once and you're likely to want to be a real part of what's going on.

Opportunity to stand alongside other recognised brands

For example, as with B Corps:

Do your people feel part of a community that is bigger than what your sustainability team does?

Do you have regular opportunities to tell stories and partake in campaigns alongside other widely respected sustainable brands?

There is some comfort in the fact that other highly sustainable brands still felt it worthwhile

Patagonia, Ben & Jerry's, The Body Shop, Natura, Eileen Fisher, Danone; many of the leading lights - both large and small - within the sustainable business space thought it worthwhile (if not necessary) to certify as a B Corp.  There is both a degree of comfort and challenge to companies who think they are already "sufficiently sustainable".

“We try to take the B Impact Assessment a couple of times a year. Every time we go through it, we find a few more things to focus on, which helps us to continually improve our business practices."

Karen Parolek, Founding Principal, Opticos Design

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  1. John Featherby

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