What is B-Corp and is it worth the time?
This article is by OggaDoon.
In recent years, the B Corp certificate has been seen as a great way to show clients and customers that you practice what you preach, and hold yourself accountable to your mission from having a low impact on the environment to treating your staff well. But, as Scottish beer and pub chain BrewDog recently found out, the fall from grace when those credentials turn out not to be all they were made out to be is hard and rough. BrewDog lost its B Corp status less than two years after it was awarded to them, thanks to an open letter from former staff and a BBC documentary shedding light on the less-than-ideal working conditions that their teams were forced to operate under.
But we’re not here to speculate about BrewDog’s practices. Individuals can make up their own minds about the ethics of the brand. But what the news has also had us considering is the question: is B Corp status worth the hassle, and what is B Corp anyway?
What is B Corp?
B Corp status is reviewed and awarded by B Lab, a company that assesses applicants on five key areas which are rated out of 200: governance, workers, community, environment and customers.
The highest-ranking UK B Corp is Y.O.U Underwear with 160.5. Patagonia scored 151.5. And while some of the biggest names in green and ethical business, including the Body Shop, proudly wear their B Corp badge, critics have accused B Lab of losing relevance and lacking integrity – particularly after Nespresso was awarded B Corp status despite being owned by the ethically dubious Nestle.
So is achieving B Corp status worth it? The first thing to know is, being a B Corp doesn’t come for free. Companies are required to pay an annual fee based on their sales, with those making up to £150,000 paying £1,000 per year, and companies making £750m paying £50,000.
If this sounds like a big chunk out of your budget, you might feel your brand is better off proving itself sustainable without the cost of becoming a B Corp.
B Corp is also updating its scoring system so that members must score above a minimum number in each category, rather than having to score at least 80 across all categories. This is likely to be a positive change for ethical brands that are proud of their B Corp status, and will help the brand regain some of its former prestige. But could also see a number of brands dropped from the ranks BrewDog style in the coming years.
Think your environmental performance and the value you create for non-shareholding stakeholders is something you do well? Then B Corp status could be for you, if you can afford it. But there may be easier ways to put your money when your mouth is and let your ethical credentials be known.
Putting your impact strategy at the forefront of your digital marketing, holding your values and mission front and centre, and fostering a strong, positive work culture that helps attract and retain staff are all easy and free ways to prove your ethical and sustainable credentials – as long as they’re true to you.
Need advice on how to market your green brand without the added pressure and expense of achieving B Corp status? Speak to OggaDoon’s team of experts today. We help green and sustainable brands make the most of their positive attributes through strategic implementation of vision-focused marketing and communications.