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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Certified B Corporations Lead the Way

Building a Sustainable, Responsible Twenty-First Century Economy

How Your Company Can Join the Movement of Using Business as a Force for Good

Chris Gillespie

In order to transition to a more sustainable society, it is imperative for our economy to evolve. Even the best-intentioned of government regulations cannot force this change to occur, as real, meaningful change must start from the bottom and work its way upwards. In this case, individual businesses and business owners wield the ability to move our overall economy in a more sustainable direction. With this ability, no doubt, comes responsibility.

Fortunately, there are many businesses that are taking their social responsibility seriously by becoming Certified B Corporations through an initiative powered by the nonprofit B Lab. With 2,655 companies spanning 150 industries and 60 countries, Certified B Corporations define themselves on their website as “businesses that meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose [in order to] accelerate a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

While conventional business philosophy may prioritize profit above all else, B Corporations recognize that profits and growth are only a “means to a greater end.” B Corporations view success not simply as making the most money possible, but being able to yield a “positive impact for their employees, communities and the environment.”

Pablo Fleischmann and Valerie Piedmont, owners of Green Energy Options, a solar company located in Keene, NH is a B Corp. Courtesy photo.

To create this positive impact and to establish a global economy that uses business as a force for good, B Corporations follow the tenets stated in “The B Corp Declaration of Interdependence”: “We as leaders of this emerging economy believe that we must be the change we seek in the world; that all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered; that, through their products, practices, and profits, business should aspire to do no harm and benefit all; to do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.”

Becoming a B Corporation requires more, though, than just taking an oath. A key step of earning a B Corporation certification is passing the B Impact Assessment, which “evaluates how a company’s operations and business model impact its workers, community, environment and customers.” The B Impact Assessment takes into account every aspect of a business, from its supply chain and input materials, to its charitable giving and employee benefits.

B Corporation certification is certainly an honor, however, it is more than just a stamp of approval—it is a commitment. In addition to transparency and accountability standards, B Corporations must incorporate the B Corporation values into their company’s legal structure.

To a business owner, this may seem like a lot of effort and commitment for something that, on the surface level, may not seem to boost business performance, however, there are many tangible benefits of the B Corporation certification. B Corporations join a network of likeminded companies who share the same values and goals, attract top-notch talent and have their brand instantly associated with industry leadership, social responsibility and exceptional business practices.

ReVision Energy, an employee-owned solar company, is one of the B Corp certified energy companies in New England. Courtesy photo.

Although B Corporations hail from around the world, New England is home to quite a few, including Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farm, Cabot Creamery, King Arthur Flour as well as energy companies ReVision Energy, Green Energy Options, and Green Mountain Power. In fact, Green Mountain Power was the subject of a report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ilsr.org) which found that, since getting B Corporation certified, Green Mountain Power has seen growth in net income and has started outpacing other, non-certified investor-owned utility companies.

Companies of all sizes can be considered for a B Corporation certification, from start-ups to public companies and related entities. To learn more about Certified B Corporations and how your company can become involved in leading and shaping tomorrow’s economy, visit www.bcorporation.net.

Chris is a contributing writer for Green Energy Times. He can be reached at chris@greenenergytimes.org.

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