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Being a B-Corp

What is a B Corp? And what are the benefits?

We know. There are many certifications. No way you can be an expert on all of them. But there are some that we find very important. Today we’d like to stretch on what is means to be a Certified B Corp. We sat down with Bert van Son to hear from him what it means to a B Corp.

What is B Corp? And what other companies are one?

B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet the standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Bert loves their slogan: ‘Using business as a force for good’.

Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,600 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and over 120 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

Other B Corps are the icemakers Ben & Jerry’s, the e-commerce marketplace Etsy, outdoor apparel company Patagonia. And, in the Netherlands Tony Chocolonely, WakaWaka, Dopper and many more. The Netherlands is home to 49 of the 1705 B Corps around the world and the largest European B Corp country. Check the list.

 
How do you become a B Corp?

You have to do a full-length assessment. When you complete the the B Impact Assessment and earn a reviewed minimum score of 80 out of 200 points you become a B Corp. Here you can find our score.

So Bert, tell us a little about the process

Doing the assessment opens your eyes in many ways. It makes you think of parts of your company where you haven’t been thinking about before. For example how many of your employees can bike to the office or are you going to use less energy in your office then last year? Can your employees become shareholders of your company, and so on.

Signing the B Corp declaration of interdependence was the moment I realized we can be proud to belong to this group. All B Corps sign a contract where you promise you envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good. It says that as leaders of this emerging economy we 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 we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.

 
What are the benefits of being a B Corp?

You become part of a movement. You feel like being part of a community. B Corps between each other try to improve each other’s businesses. It’s like a warm bath. A community of like-minded companies and people.

What is great is that we all have the same vision on the world. And love to share insights with each other and promote each other.

It also really puts your company on another level. It attracts talent, educated, and highly motivated youngsters. Especially international students are aware that a B Corp has a clear purpose. The pioneers of twenty-first-century, the millennials believe that life and work should be worthwhile and have meaning.

 With what other B Corp companies have you collaborated?

Our book keeping is done by B Corp Peer administration. Peer supports enterprises in their accounting and makes the accounting processes run smoothly. Peer also gives advise to entrepreneurs. On top of that, Peer creates jobs for high educated people with a so-called working disability, like autism or a chronic disease. Peer clients help creating jobs to people with a special talent.

Peer administration about our collaboration: “Because we are both B Corps we understand each other very well. We know the challenges of a social enterprise, from our own experience, ánd because a lot of our clients are fast growing social enterprises as well.”

Oh and past September Peer Administration and MUD Jeans have been selected for ‘Best for the World’. That means we are actually best of the best.

 
Mmm, so what does that mean?

B Lab says that many business leaders are talking about sustainability. But only a small group of pioneering businesspeople is setting a higher bar. Instead of minimizing harm, they seek to maximize the positive impact of their businesses. Instead of limiting negative externalities, they actively and purposefully seek a regenerative economy by operating their businesses in more thoughtful and rigorous ways. The ‘Best for the World’ are the businesses that have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations.

Back to the collaborations…

Yes. We try to do commercial actions with other B Corps like Dopper. During the Recycle Tour past May we did a beach clean-up near Biarritz. The ones who collected most garbage where rewarded with a Dopper. And Dopper also has branded Dopper denim shirts for their teams.

While we where in San Diego for the Sustainable Brands event we got to know Think Parallax. A B Corp certified creative agency based in San Diego that build brands with purpose. They believe that profit and purpose are not mutually exclusive – good business means doing the right thing.

The fun thing is that B Corps often do things their own unique way. A good example is the PARALLAXploration program. The past two years the agency has paid each of their employees to travel anywhere in the world, search for inspiration, and “fill the creative gas tank.” This year, they decided to travel as a team to Mexico City to connect with the local community, partner with other creative agencies, and find inspiration together.

Would you recommend companies to take the B Corp assessment?

Absolutely. But it has to come from the top. If the management doesn’t believe in it, it won’t work. Then you’re bound to waste your time.

Lucky us, Guusje Bendeler, the Co-Founder of Think Parallax is Dutch. And during her last visit to her home-country she did went for drinks with Bert…