B Corps are a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Rather than prioritising profits over the wellbeing of the planet, they are for-profit companies certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Think of it as the business equivalent of Fair Trade certification to coffee.
In 2006, B Lab founders Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy acted on their vision that “one day all companies will compete to not only be the best in the world but the best for the world” to create a global movement. Today, there is a growing community of more than 2,500 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and over 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
To gain B Corp status, a company must go through a rigorous application process. Many don’t make the cut. Large corporations like Warby Parker, Patagonia, and Danone all have B Corp certification, so when we spotted that Premium member Robyn Jones of Mama Maya had gained B Corp status, we had to find out how she did it, and her advice for anyone also wanting to join the movement.
Why was it important for you to gain B Corp status?
B Corps are companies who use the power of business to create a positive impact on the world, and who voluntarily hold themselves to a high level of accountability. Gaining B Corp certification was something I had always planned for Mama Maya, and from the moment I launched the business I was working towards certification.
Mama Maya has philanthropy at our heart – with every purchase of one of our muslin baby wraps, we fund birthing kits for women giving birth in remote areas of developing countries. Our wraps are all made with organic cotton using non-toxic printing by our fair-trade accredited manufacturer, and we consider our environmental impact with our packaging.
Being certified as a B Corp – and by agreeing to a rigorous external assessment of all facets of our business every two years – demonstrates our commitment to having the highest standards of social and environmental impact, accountability and transparency.
How rigorous is the application process?
The first stage of the application process involves completing the B Impact Assessment, and assesses the overall impact of your business on its stakeholders. It varies based on a number of factors, and caters for companies the size of Mama Maya (with one owner worker plus contractors), through to huge multi-nationals with revenue into the billions. It’s a confidential process, and full transparency is required on elements such as revenue, expenditure, supply chain, and environmental and social impact.
“To become certified, a business must score a minimum of 80 out of 200 points – and I’m super proud that Mama Maya scored 109.3!”
How long did it take you to apply?
B Lab (the non-profit who are responsible for certifying B Corps) runs regular information sessions to help explain and answer questions about the application process, and I attended two of them in the last two years. I started the B Impact Assessment about 18 months ago, and kept coming back in and out of it. For me, a lot of the preparation for application was in ensuring that formal policies were in place around our core business values, that we had a demonstrated record of doing what we say we do, and ensuring that all supporting documentation was on hand. Once that was ready, I started the assessment properly from the beginning and it took about 2 hours to complete.
How long did it take to get accepted?
The time from the moment of submitting our application to certification took about 6 weeks. Once the application is received, the next phase of the assessment process involves submitting documentation to support the responses, and then there is an in-depth telephone interview with an analyst from B Lab in the US. Further documentation is provided and a disclosure agreement is signed. After a little more back and forth, Mama Maya was finally certified on the 1st May.
What would you say to someone thinking about it? What advice can you pass on?
If you are thinking about it, I would absolutely advise going through the B Impact Assessment online – it’s free to use, and is a brilliant tool to get a quick benchmark of your business and see how you might be able to improve across a range of areas. It’s a valuable exercise even if you are not planning to go on to gain certification; there may be some changes that you can implement over time that will have a big impact on your business – and then you may even go on to certify!
I found the process of completing the assessment really helped me to get organised and formalise policies and processes to ensure Mama Maya is committed to being the best we can be. The assessment allowed me to see where the holes were in my business, and take steps to fill them. Overall, it was definitely a very worthwhile process and nowhere near as daunting as I thought it would be!
It’s only been a short while, but what have you gained from becoming certified?
Besides the pride associated with being certified (yay!), the support from our customers and retailers who are familiar with B Corps has been so encouraging. I’m so thrilled to be able to join the growing community of B Corps in Australia – an incredibly passionate, supportive and forward-thinking group of people across a number of industries, and I’m looking forward to some of many events that B Lab runs for B Corps across the year.
CONNECT WITH ROBYN HERE.
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