B Corps: Harness the power of business for social and environmental good

On the 8th of June, in collaboration with Heart of the City , the B Lab UK team and Bates Wells Braithwaite , hosted an insight session on B Corp certification.

This article is a summary from the event of everything you need to know about B Corp and the certification.Corp and the certification.

Charmian Love (co-lead of B Lab UK launch) talking B Corps at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP

What are B Corps all about?
As the Community of Certified B Corporations puts it, “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee.”

A B Corp is a for-profit business that has social and environmental impact at the heart of its mission. They are certified by the nonprofit ‘B Lab’ to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Why B Corp?
In the words of Jay Coen Gilbert (co-founder of BLab)

“Companies are using the B Corp certification to differentiate themselves from other companies that don’t meet rigorous, third party, validated performance standards so that they can demonstrate that they are walking their talk”.

As in the case with Bates Wells Braithwaite, who are currently in the application process to become B Corp certified, for them B Corp strengthens their ethos by looking at the organisation as a whole. The certification also represents how they do business, a commercial law firm with conscious, with a majority of their client base being charities, social enterprises and public interest companies

What sets the B Corp certification apart from other available certifications?
The B Corp certification is not an alternative, instead it is designed to stand beside other accreditations and include a positive and inclusive approach. By becoming a B Corporation you are differentiating your business, you are going beyond the Corporate Social Responsibility agenda and embracing a new model of capitalism for the 21st Century.

The B Corp certification has two unique elements: 1. a robust, comprehensive and independent set of standards and 2. the locking in of your business mission through the legal test.

The B Impact Assessment (BIA)
BCorp assessment

The online assessment captures what you do as a business and how you do it. The assessment covers the organisation’s business model, governance, community involvement, workers and environmental impact. Businesses are using the assessment as a roadmap to help them ask all the right questions about what kind of positive impact they want to have on the world.

Example B Impact Assessment– take a look for yourself here

The Legal Test
The legal test is by far the most challenging element of the B Corp certification as it takes into account your stakeholders, yet it is also one of the most fundamental elements of becoming a B Corporation.

As well as completing the assessment, companies are required to amend their constitutional documents to state that shareholder value is not the supreme consideration but is one factor amongst the many stakeholder interests (including employees, suppliers, society and the environment) which board members need to take into account when running the business.

To be or not to be B Corp?
Becoming a B Corp may not be for everyone. The assessment is rigorous and the process can take a considerable amount of time to complete. However, there are a range of benefits to certifying as a B Corp from the organisational insights gained during the assessment to becoming part of a global community.

With certification comes instant access to a global community of like-minded organisations. This community acts as a fantastic forum for sharing best practice and learning from each other as well as an opportunity to foster business development relationships.

To continue the conversation on B Corp, follow @BCorpUK and @HOTC_UK, and search the hashtags #BtheChangeUK and #Bcorp.

We would like to thank Peter Bennett for sharing Bates Wells Braithwaite’s B Corp application journey, Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co for hosting us and to all the Heart of the City members who attended the event.

For further information on the session or if you are looking to start your responsible business journey you can get in touch with Heart of the City by visiting http://www.theheartofthecity.com/

If you are interested in learning more about B Corp UK leading up to their official launch in September, events are being hosted all around the UK for those who would like to get involved, check out
http://bcorporation.uk/events

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