Friday, January 29, 2010

B Corporations and the New Economy

My company, TriLibrium, is a certified B-Corporation. I believe B-Corp certification to be the current gold standard for firms dedicated to doing well by doing good.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a "State of the B Community" update. The B Corporation community is maturing and expanding. There are now more than 250 certified B-Corps total. The community has expanded to Canada and just this week, the first one will appear in Europe. On January 1st, B Labs released the new benchmarking tool, Version 2.0.

Whether or not you want to pursue B-Corporation certification, I highly recommend using the B Corporation survey to benchmark your environmental and social performance. This is a free service that will help you assess where you stand, and how you might improve. Getting a baseline benchmark is critical for performance improvement and to measure and report on your progress.

Because it is worth sharing, here is the B Corporation Member Declaration:

Declaration of Interdependence

We envision a new sector of the economy which harnesses the power of private enterprise to create public benefit. This sector is comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation™ – which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

As members of this emerging sector and as entrepreneurs and investors in B Corporations™,
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
  • 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, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
To do so, requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.


Ven said...

What are the changes in the new version 2.0 of the B-Corp benchmarking tool? I haven't had a chance to look at it yet.

Are there any negative factors yet? That is, if a company does X that counts against the company.
Do they still expect a company to take credit for their employees personal time when good (like volunteering), but not when bad (like getting arrested)? Those are two things I found odd about the version 1.0. Otherwise I think the B-Corp Benchmarks are great.

Hardik said...

Great question Ven,
The biggest difference is that it is more output oriented than process oriented. For example V2 will ask what is the company's attrition in addition to what types of career advancing opportunities (continuing education credits, flex time opportunities etc) does the company offer to build a great work environment.

Some other major changes:
-about 70% of old questions were either consolidated, redefined, or reweighted.
- about 15% of V2 is new questions.. many in the area of job creation and the social and environmental impact of suppliers
-2 new industry specific addenda - building industry and financial services industry (each addenda has about 25 new metrics)
-survey reorganized into 5 impact areas "accountability, employees, community..etc" versus "practices, profits, and products"
-old beneficial methods of production section is more specific and restructured – now companies can earn more than one ‘benefit model’ points (eg. running an apprenticeship program and also having 100% of profits go to a charitable organization)

There are no negative factors in V2. The Standards Council has intentionally kept this rating system just a positive accrual of points much like LEED. But that might change as the cast changes over time. Or perhaps in the future there might be pre-requisites.

Hope that helps Ven. I encourage you to have a look: It's intentionally free and transparent to the public.

Hardik Savalia, B Lab.