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Why B-Corp isn’t the B-All End-All and how Includability can help

It’s B Corp month, and while there has been criticism of B Corp and how their assessment process is far from perfect, we believe categorially the non-profit network’s celebration month is worth it.

How can Includability help you become a B Corp and support you on your B Corp Journey?

Published on
September 5, 2023
B Lab UK
CSR, Social Changemakers
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It’s B Corp month, and while there has been criticism of B Corp and how their assessment process is far from perfect, we believe categorically the non-profit network’s celebration month is worth it.

What is B Corp month?

March is recognised as B Corp month, when businesses celebrate what it is to be a B Corp, raising awareness and shouting the message of how to do better business. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

The B Corp community believes in a global economy where business is a force for tangible good in the world, in that when people and planet are put first, profit follows naturally.

How to achieve B Corp status?

There are four major steps to becoming a B Corp:

Verify your social and environmental performance -Companies must complete a B Impact Assessment every 3 years, achieve a verified score of 80 points or more, and pass the disclosure questionnaire review and verification process.

“Mission Lock” your organisation - Companies must adopt a legal framework that accounts for all stakeholders. This varies by country, and states in North America, dependant on local laws. B Lab provides assistance in choosing the right framework.

Transparency - Immediately before certification, a B Impact Report is published in the B Corp Directory.

Pay an Annual Fee - Companies pay an annual fee for B Corp certification, allowing them to use the B Corp logo. The cost varies by region and by the company’s gross revenue.

It also requires an ongoing commitment to improving on your previous score. Recertification is required every 3 years.

B Corp tree showing how B Corp companies must engage with environmental, social and corporate governance principles.

What do B Corp critics say?

Most of the criticism surrounding B Corp centre around the imperfections of the B Impact Assessment, the certification process which allow companies to be awarded B Corp status and enjoy the accolades of being known as socially responsible organisations.  

Specifically, the criticism is focussed on four areas, which was detailed in the Financial Times in February.

-       When Nestlé subsidiary Nespresso was awarded “B Corp” status in May 2022  

-       BrewDog attaining B Corp status, and subsequent revoking of the certification after grappling with revelations of bullying and a “culture of fear”

-       Limits to committing to fair pay and other social responsibilities in its supply chain, and how it deploys profits

-       A loophole which allows certain organisations to concentrate on scoring highly in one pillar to achieve 80 points while largely ignoring the other pillars of better business B Corp champion

B Corp is planning changes in standards from next year, which will force B Corps to be more transparent about where they are around 10 specific topics – including fair wages, diversity and inclusion, human rights, action on climate change and risk standards – to resolve the issue around companies being able to rapidly meet the minimum points requirements in a single area.

Why B Corp is Important to Includability?

We are proud to support our Official Partners, B Corp UK and the B Corp community in their mission to help raise standards in corporate social responsibility.

Purpose-focussed business is growing and while there are some out there only looking to exceed in one part to claim the overall victory, the majority of purpose-led organisations do take the B Corp principles of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) to heart.    

Chris Turner, Executive Director at B Lab UK summed the situation up best in a statement following the FT article: “As B Corp grows, we know that it can’t be all things to all people - too slow or too fast; too big or too small; too easy or too difficult. But movements must move. As we do so, with pace and with purpose, the questions we ask one another and the debates they inspire are essential to achieving our mission.”

As the movement grows, so do new and better ideas of how to achieve true ESG. We do not expect to ever achieve it, but the journey to it is well worth taking, and celebrating when important milestones are reached.

Paul Smith, Founder of Includability talks about how we started on our ESG journey, “We started Includability to bring a level of accountability to employers and a degree of reassurance to jobseekers. It has subsequently evolved into the standard for organisations committed to creating an inclusive and mentally healthy workplace culture. Through our supportive Verification Process, our incredible community and ambassadors, and our extensive list of Member benefits, we are the standard that encourages progression, supports organisations to be more sustainable and ultimately ensures people and planet are at the forefront of every organisation. Change has to happen, changing for the better is a must and Includability believes that change can happen when we all work together.”    

To try and achieve this change, we wanted to work with the companies that were serious about wanting to make an authentic change. We introduces our 5 Star Verification process for employers to get the ball rolling.    

How does the Includability verification process work?

The Includability Verification Process consists of 5 Stars for employers and 6 Stars for recruitment agencies. In order to become an Includability Committed Employer, it is mandatory that every stage of the process is completed.

The process consists of companies making commitments to each of our pillar areas – Diversity & Inclusion, Sustainability, Talent Management, Mental Health, Wellbeing, & Leadership and Governance –followed up with introductory calls with our independent verification partners to chart a company’s progress.  

The process is a wonderful way to celebrate the great works companies are already doing and we provide expert support where they need it the most. We celebrate commitment and intent. While we do not go as far as B Corp in asking for evidence to support an overall score, but our model encourages members to consider each of our pillars that put people, planet and purpose at the heart of business.

Our resources and community also help members consider best practice up and down their supply chains and make steps each year toward becoming a more purpose-led and responsible organisation.

We do not expect perfection, and no process is flawless, but our community is tasked with holding each other accountable and we each do our best to help raise standards in industry.    

How can Includability help you become a B Corp?

Our aim is to help organisations achieve a broader, and more focussed, overall sustainability strategy, and help them realise that the great work in EDI, leadership and governance, volunteering, workplace culture, policy and environmental projects all contribute to the overall sustainability strategy.

We work with specialist consultants in each area to provide members with a the resources to help them on their journey.

In relation to B Corp, we aim to help members ready themselves if they are looking to undergo the B Impact Assessment by getting them to think about what they do and how they help the communities they serve and provide support in areas they need.

The overall aim is to help change the thought process of organisations from aiming for a minimum score, to aiming for as close to the maximum 200 score as possible and to be the best organisation they could possibly be.

The reality might seem overwhelming but we are with our members every step of the way with help and support.

David Holby-Wolinski, Director at Includability said, “We love B Corp and all it stands for! We want to help that community in any way we can and we want Includability to stand as a pillar to where organisations can come to help them on their journey. We provide love and support to all of our brilliant members who look to make a bigger positive impact every day, and we have over 50 specialist partners ready to provide advice and support so we can all strive to a more purpose-led way of business.”

How do I Join the B Corp movement?

One way to keep the B Corp movement going as originally intended is to instil a new sense of ambition into the members and potential members that seek to join. To help them see that everything they do can make a difference to the people, planet, and ultimately, profit.

To show that keeping on that forward looking path after achieving B Corp status is rewarding. Includability inspires members to keep moving forward with their ESG plans and is always here to help members make new plans.

Only together can we change the world for the better.    

Includability hopes to inspire our community do better as they inspire us to every day.

Related Links

B Corp


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