This is the second post in a series of blog posts which document Serversaurus’ journey to becoming a Certified B Corporation. Over the next month or two, we’ll go through our B Corp journey from inception to certification, offer some advice and recommendations on the certification process, and reflect on the best practice and benefits we’ve discovered along the way.
The B Corp process is primarily centred around an online assessment, followed by a telephone conversation with a member of B Lab (the non-profit which certifies companies) who guides you through the areas your business needs to improve upon to achieve certification. Finally, documentation is required to prove you undertake the policies and initiatives you have outlined in your assessment.
Certification is not a hugely difficult process, however it is one which requires quite an investment in time, putting together documentation (financials, utility bills etc), and writing new documents (HR doc, sustainability report etc).
It’s important to do a first run of the assessment with as much paperwork as you have on hand, and use the score to work out which parts of the assessment you need to focus on – otherwise it can all seem a bit overwhelming.
TIP Involve as many stakeholders as possible during the assessment. The more people actively involved in the process will likely mean that you score higher and achieve certification quicker. Indeed, having this collaborative attitude is one that B Corp look for and can positively affect your score.
The key conclusions we came to at the end of our assessment were:
- Attempting the assessment without adequate documentation and prep left us well below the pass mark (30/200) of the required minimum of 80/200.
- When re-attempting the assessment with preparation, we achieved 90/200 – 10 points beyond the pass mark.
- However, our policies were not codified in any formal documentation. This was going to be a critical task as the uploading of documents, including sustainability policy documents is a requirement for certification. Collating this data for these reports and then writing it up could be a timely process.
TIP Because the assessment is fairly broad and US-centric, you should interpret each question favourably. Don’t omit small details such as dual flush toilets which could get you extra points.
Reach out to the B Corp community
- Reassuringly, all agree that it is not a difficult process, especially when your company values already align with those represented by B Corp.
- They recommend quickly establishing contact with B Lab to hit the ground running on your B Corp journey. They are the best guides and can fast-track you through the process.
- Start the assessment process ASAP and get in contact with B Lab afterwards to give you focus on improvements that you can easily make.
- The bulk of time is spent on finding data and writing the required documents. This is more true for smaller businesses with informal reporting practices as opposed to larger firms with readily available data and formalised/codified documents.
- These docs do not need to be incredibly detailed. They don’t need to take into consideration specific or in-depth corporate governance or employee laws.
- It is essential to be dedicated to the process in order to complete it in a timely manner. Whilst they agree it is not a difficult process, it requires significant time to power through the writing of docs.
- Because of the US-centric nature of the assessment, and the irrelevancy of some questions for service businesses, it is important to favourably interpret some questions on the assessment. Don’t omit any details that may help you and elaborate on any policies or initiatives you undertake already, or plan to undertake in the near future as these can help you score points.
- Appreciate the impact of your value chain. For example, Seversaurus hosts TOM Organics website, one of Australia’s founding B Corps. This impact positively contributes to your score.
- It is important to truly understand your own business financials, operations, structure and governance.
- Engage as many stakeholders as possible in the process so they can rally behind the B Corp idea and give it more meaning and longevity for the entire business.
- Get external help. Reach out to the B Corp community for advice. Also use open source templates when writing the documents.
- The B Corp journey differs from company to company depending on size, sector, and how formal the business governance and practices are.
Thanks to everyone who took time out to provide thoughts and feedback on the B Corp process.
Till next week!