Ever growing demand for B Corp certification is enabling B Lab to call on its community in a whole new way.
In the UK, the number of people signing up to use the B Impact Assessment increased around 40% year on year between 2018 and 2020. B Corp certification is no small undertaking for a business of any size, so this growth is pretty remarkable. It is challenging B Lab, the organisation responsible for B Corp certification, to quickly evolve to ensure it can scale in response to demand while ensuring the integrity of the process. This has given rise to the Outside Verifier pilot – a unique experiment that embodies the values of the B Corp movement.
The increased interest in B Corp certification is not so surprising when looked at in context. Recent data shows 76% of the British population believe capitalism isn’t working well or is harmful to the UK economy. Alongside this, there’s growing evidence that sustainable businesses outperform their peers consistently against a range of criteria, not least financial performance. Between 2017 and 2019, UK B Corps grew on average 15%, compared to the national average company growth of 3%.
As anyone currently seeking to certify and sitting in the evaluation queue will know, B Lab is being challenged to scale fast to meet demand. And that is what has given rise to the Outside Verifier (OV) pilot. I am one of four people from Europe and four from North America selected to take part in a new training programme intended to explore the effectiveness, feasibility and resource requirements of adding external resources to the verification process.
As part of this pilot program I’m attending an intensive training offered by B Lab, in order to be able to perform verification independently. True to its nature as an experiment, part of our involvement includes supporting B Lab in shaping and evaluating the Outside Verification pilot training programme, the tools, resources and support needed and in defining the intended outcomes.
It is proving to be an absolutely fascinating opportunity to gain incredible insight into B Corp certification, and frankly to geek out with others who share my professional interest with all aspects, from the details of specific questions to the nuances of the underlying principles.
Innovation is core to how B Lab ensures B Corp certification remains relevant and delivers value.
While this pilot is unique to date, innovation is core to how B Lab ensures B Corp certification remains relevant and delivers value to those engaging with it, while challenging us all to push forward with our own improvement journeys. This is evident in the launch last year of the SDG Action Manager, developed with the UN Global Compact, and just this month, in a partnership with GRI to develop a tool to facilitate better understanding of how the BIA can support impact reporting.
The Outside Verification pilot is running over several months, and we won’t know the outcome until later this year. As far as I’m concerned, the benefits are being realised already. The depth of my practice, and my ability to support companies through B Corp certification is being enhanced by a more profound understanding of the B Impact Assessment framework and the drivers, structures and values that inform it.
Alongside certification, B Lab is pursuing a larger goal of changing the fundamental operating system of business to one that defaults to business as a force for good, through initiatives such as B Lab UK’s Better Business Act campaign. By turning to the B Corp community, and drawing us into the search for solutions to the challenge of scaling, we are able to collectively demonstrate a way of doing business that is fit for the future we all want to see, and part of how we make it a reality.
Author Rachael Mpashi-Marx, Senior Consultant at Junxion
Are you building a better business and interested in the B Corp certification process – with years of experience behind us we can help. Contact Rachael Mpashi-Marx to have a chat and see how to get started.