Similar to the Green Spa Network, the non-profit organization, B Lab® believes that companies can be the best for people and planet. To realize this vision, B Lab® is creating a community of Certified B Corpsthat meet their rigorous standards for verified social and environmental performance, legal accountability, and public transparency. Currently, there are more than 2,100 Certified B Corps in 50 countries and 130 industries.
GSN spoke with several members who have become Certified B Corps about their experience and why it’s important to be “best for the world.”
Lauren Padawar, President and Founder of Alaska Glacial Mud Co. (Certified since August 2014) “The B Corp logo helps us recognize and highlight what’s most important to our company. And as a consumer, I love finding the B Corp label on new products!”
Shannon Kyllo, Communications Specialist for Goddess Garden (Certified since September 2015) “Being a B Corp changes the way you think about doing business. It’s a culture shift, and it’s proving you can do the right thing while still being profitable. That means we’ll continue to improve and hopefully, encourage and empower others to do the same.”
Vida Karamooz, PhD, CEO of Blue Beautifly (Certified since August 2016) “The assessment process may seem daunting at first. However, upon starting the process, we relied heavily on the support, knowledge, and encouragement of the B Corp staff who provided us with valuable insight and advice along the way. Plus, the scoring nature of the qualification process has a certain competitive element that served as a motivator along the way.”
Atilla Koronczay, General Manager of Eminence Organic Skin Care, a GSN Platinum Sponsor (Certified since September 2016) “On behalf of over 300 team-members at Eminence Organic Skin Care, we are grateful and humbled to be a Certified B Corporation. The spa industry is dedicated to bettering people’s lives… having a B Corp Certification takes that one step further to dedicate your business to bettering the world.”
What motivated you to become a Certified B Corp?
Lauren: The B Corp logo helps us recognize and highlight what’s most important to our company. The values of sustainability, low/no-impact resource extraction, philanthropy and social & environmental responsibility have been the ethos of the Alaska Glacial Mud Co. brand since we founded in 2006. It was a natural match for us and it is our hope that people find us through B Corp and that our badge of honor helps new customers find other B Corps.
Shannon: We had many industry friends tell us we should consider the B Corp certification for our company. After looking into what it was all about, we agreed that it would be a great certification to get. The whole idea of including people and the planet as equal priorities to profit fit how we wanted to operate Goddess Garden. Like a lot of small high-growth companies, we put it off for a long time because we were busy running our company. Finally, when the CU MBA students offered to help us with starting our survey, we made the commitment to complete the certification. We are very glad we did.
Vida: We sought to obtain the B Corp certification as a way to showcase our genuine brand, wholesome ingredients, transparent operations, and absolute commitment to socially and environmentally responsible practices.
Was there anything surprising you learned about your business during the B Corp™ review process?
Atilla: One of the most surprising things we learned during the B Corp review process is that the larger a company is, the more difficult it is to meet the many requirements for certification. For example, one category of evaluation looks at how much waste is produced by the company. Because the B Corp certification requirement is based solely on the tonnage of waste produced, a small company would meet this criterion simply by the fact they produce a very low volume – without even needing to recycle. A large company, on the other hand, has a much more difficult challenge, needing to recycle every single possible item to meet the extremely low waste tonnage criterion. Thankfully, at Eminence Organics, we had the practices already in place to recycle paper, plastic, containers, glass, bottles, cardboard – and even compost all organic matter. This is one area, where, as a large company, we exceeded the certification requirement. We were also surprised (and proud!) to learn that Eminence Organic Skin Care is the largest B Corp in the health/personal care category in British Columbia.
Shannon: While we knew we were doing a lot of things right, we wanted to make sure we were really doing the best things for people and the planet. We were already doing a lot of the things B Corp recognizes, but the process got us to narrow our focus and simplify what we are doing, so we are able to have a larger impact on the things that are really important to us. Our mission is to create products that make it easy to respect and protect Mother Earth and her inhabitants. B Corp wants people to focus on people, planet and profits. Everything aligns, and being a B Corp taught us keep our mission at the forefront of every decision we make.
Vida: Not necessarily surprising, but we learned a lot. First of all, we learned the importance of documentation and tracking. Much of our practices, such as water conservation, energy efficiency, and waste reduction, were just the way we operated the business. Secondly, we learned the importance of setting goals so that we can measure our success over time and improve the results of our initiatives. Finally, we learned that by joining the B Corp community, we have access to a group of likeminded enterprises who are eager to share their ideas with others.
Lauren: We learned that it is almost unheard of to donate 10% of profits under a philanthropic company program. Our biggest positive impact is helping fund local organizations that educate, defend and preserve wild salmon habitat and the more successful our business is, the more we can pass onto those organizations.
How has your business evolved or benefitted since becoming a Certified B Corp?
Lauren: As a business owner, I have become even more aware of conserving resources and the carbon footprint of all products. We’re doing everything we can to improve. There hasn’t been a way to measure a financial benefit, just the integrity of our goals.
Shannon: Yes; aside from getting us to focus on the things that make the biggest impact, being a B Corp has introduced us to other companies who are also using their business as a force for good. It’s encouraging and uplifting to see so many companies striving to make a difference. We’ve also partnered with other B Corps for multiple marketing events. It’s nice to be part of this larger family of companies that look out for each other and help each other out.
Vida: Joining the B Corp Community has resulted in two key benefits. First, Idea Generation. By participating in local B Corp sponsored events, we have gained valuable lessons, advice, and ideas on how we can transform our company in a manner that benefits our financial performance while benefitting our employees, customers, and the entire value chain of our activities. Second, Staff Motivation. Operating with the triple bottom line (Financial, Social, and Environmental) mindset has had an energizing impact on our staff.
Attila: The B Corp certification allowed us to gain greater self-awareness of our business practices. Many of our initiatives, like Forests for the Future, and business practices, such as equal pay regardless of gender, have always been natural and instinctive. The fact that such aspects contributed to our B Corp certification provided the proof that we are truly a “conscious business.” From a corporate leadership perspective, we’re now a part of the network of Certified B Corps and attend local networking events and leadership development conferences to learn about all the ways that Certified B Corps are using business as a force for good. This inspires us to continue to grow and improve upon our best business practices.
Would you say being a Certified B Corp increases your ability to cause positive change?
Shannon: We think it does. The process makes us think about everything we do as a company in B Corp terms. We partner with other local B Corps. We work to be more green at the office with our ink, paper and supplies. We turn off lights. We recycle. It’s at the forefront of our minds when we make packaging decisions. When we wanted to hire video production, we had several great options, but the local company won us over because we now think like a B Corp. For us, it’s not simply a certification. It a way of thinking and acting as a responsible company—in our community and on our planet.
Vida: Absolutely. An integral component of obtaining the B Corp certification is the mandate to amend our company’s Article of Incorporation to assert our commitment to the environment and communities in which we operate. This legally binding commitment has provided the underpinning to ensure that we assess the social and environmental implications of our decisions thoroughly. Furthermore, we hope that our joining the B Corp community influences others (e.g., our vendors, resellers, and, competitors) to consider becoming B Corp certified, thereby creating a multiplicative effect.
Attila: The distinction as a Certified B Corp absolutely increases Eminence Organics’ ability to create positive change. This is the largest, nonprofit, third-party certification for responsible businesses – obtaining a B Corp certification is well trusted and increasingly well known. We’re also able to branch out and share our initiatives into new industries through the network of Certified B Corps. For example, a technology company could be inspired to start their own tree planting initiative “for every app developed” because they heard about Eminence Organics’ Forests for the Future initiative. When Certified B Corps work together and share best practices, the motto to ‘use business as a force for good’ becomes a very real and actionable task. All Photos from B Lab®