It is not for those waiting on verification
The Pending B Corp status is not for the purpose most people assume it to be: that you are pursuing B Corp or going through the full certification process and waiting to hear whether you have succeeded.
Understandably, this question is most frequently asked by companies who would like to refer to themselves as a Pending B and therefore use its associated logo whilst they wait.
But I'm afraid it's not for that and, as such, B Lab would ask that the logo is not used in that way. They want to ensure only companies who have completed the processes relevant to the Pending status use the Pending status.
Pending B is exclusively for start-ups
Pending B Corp is a designation specifically for start-up businesses who aren't yet mature enough for the B Impact Assessment to be realistically applied; many of the BIA's questions are about the previous 12 months.
Pending B is a sign of intent to be fully certified within the next 12 months, as opposed to a sign of achievement over the previous 12 months.
To be certified as a Pending B Corp you need to have:
- Qualified under their "start of operations" definition (see below)
- Changed your legal constitution to the B Corp standard (and thereby must be in a region where a legal pathway to full certification exists) See: What is involved with the legal change?
- Begun a prospective B Impact Assessment
- Signed the Pending Certification Term Sheet
- Paid the Pending Certification fee
Start of Operations
You qualify for Pending B status if less than 12 months have passed since the start of your operations, which B Lab defines as:
- The date at with a contract with a major supplier/client is signed, or
- The date at which at least one individual is contributing more than 35 hours a week to the company.
However, if you qualify for Pending B Corp on the basis of "2", you must have at least one individual working on the business full time by the time you apply for full certification to qualify as a fully-fledged B Corp.
So, if you have 12 months of operations already, you cannot then apply for Pending B. Only if you have less than 12 months.
How to Become A Pending B?
Complete a B Impact Assessment
The first thing you need to do is complete a BIA. You can open a free account here: https://bimpactassessment.net/
You must then complete the BIA on a prospective basis - i.e. answer all the questions on the basis of intent - given you don't have a full year of operations to evidence.
Officially you only have to have completed the BIA, you don't have to have answered all the questions to the tune of 80 points. However, we recommend you do answer the questions in such a way that it generates 80+ points because that way you have:
- A roadmap/to do list in place to then go and pursue full certification
- A great resource of ideas to build the foundation you need
- Clarity on what it will involve to transition to full certification
- Just provides that little extra signal to B Lab that you're serious
Make the Legal Change
Whilst you cannot complete a BIA on the basis of a whole year of activity, you can make the legal change to your articles.
This is the only action that B Lab will expect to have evidenced.
Within the BIA, you can then submit your assessment for verification as a Pending B. The submission process is usually found at the top of the Dashboard page.
If you have not reached Day 1 of operations and can't yet apply, you can still undertake all of the steps above. The benefit of that is:
- You can still use the BIA to help you think and create a strong foundation whilst you build towards Day 1.
- You are ready to go as soon as Day 1 occurs. This gives you the maximum out of time - by the time B Lab replies to make you a Pending B - to start implementing the changes you need to.
- You are spreading the workload that is required to reach the B Corp standard over a longer period of time, reducing the intensity of effort required between achieving Pending status and applying for full certification.
Transitioning to Full B Corp Certification
Once you obtain the Pending B status you then have a 12-month window to obtain 80 points verified on your BIA so you can certify fully.
You can choose to pursue full certification at any point after you have 12 months of operations or, at the latest, 12 months from the point of being granted Pending B.
So, for example, you could apply for Pending B in Month 4 of operations. At which point, a 12-month countdown begins within which you must apply for full certification - which would end in Month 16. So, you could apply for full certification at any point in Months 12 - 16.
If you do not apply for full certification or you do apply and B Lab does not agree you have 80 points then you can no longer refer to yourself as a Pending B and must cease use of all B Corp branding etc.
If you do happen to fail the BIA at the end of 12 months you can have a one time, 90-day extension free of charge to try again.
Pending B Corp Directory
If you're interested to see a list of Pending B Corps, you can visit one here:
There is also a directory for fully certified B Corps, too:
Download B Lab's Guide to Pending B Corp Certification