HM Insights

The B-Corporation Movement: Happy International Interdependence Day!

The 4th of July is well known as the date the United States of America celebrates Independence Day.  But what about Interdependence Day?  On the 5th July 2006, the first official day of full time work took place at B Lab, a non-profit organisation that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good, and International Interdependence Day was founded.

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What is a B-Corporation?

B Lab certifies companies that have met high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency by giving them B-Corporation status.  B-Corporations are for-profit businesses which have social and/or environmental outcomes that are central to the business.  They are pro-business, pro-environment, pro-market and pro-community. B-Lab UK is the charity coordinating B-Corp activity in the UK.

In a time where 66% of consumers will pay more for sustainable goods and investors are becoming more socially responsible the B-Corp movement is thriving.  Products are often identified as being 'good' such as Fairtrade coffee, but the difference with a B-Corp is that the entire company is considered prior to the certification being granted, not just one aspect or product of it.  B-Corp is a big picture evaluation and promotes good companies, rather than good marketing. They aim to redefine success in business so that one day all companies will compete not just to be the best in the world, but also the best for the world.

Scottish Government support

Identifying as a B-Corporation is a way to publicly claim an identity as an organisation interested in both shareholder and stakeholder success.  At the Impact Summit held in Glasgow this year, Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Scottish Government is backing an initiative called "Scotland CAN B" which aims to lead the way in showing that growth has to be inclusive and fair to be desirable.  The B-Corp movement stands for positive, innovative and practical solutions to global problems. 

Harper Macleod attended the first event of Scotland CAN B at the end of June, focusing on how Scotland can use business as a force for good and how we can help businesses to obtain the B-Corporation certification. 

B-Corps are gathering a vast following in the States with companies such as Ben and Jerry's, Etsy, Patagonia, Rubicon and most recently Innocent already certified members. It launched in the UK at the end of September 2015 with 62 founding members with combined revenue of close to £0.5bn representing 13 sectors.  This number has now grown to 131 in under three years including big names such as Ella's Kitchen, JoJo Maman Bebe and The Big Issue Group. The rise of B-Corporations among leading companies demonstrates that efforts to change and reform industry standards requires fundamental change to the purpose and legal form of the organisations.   

B-Corp benefits

The B-Corporation certification is appealing to a variety of businesses for numerous reasons.  It is suitable for businesses of all sizes that have a common aim to use business as a force for good. By becoming a B-Corp you can be part of a leading movement, attract investors and engage with innovative young talent.  It is the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

Let's get started

So how do you become a B-Corporation and part of this global movement?  The first step is to complete the "B Impact Assessment". Generally companies will score 40-60 out of 200 in the assessment, to become a certified B-Corp you require to score at least 80 points. A process will follow where you have to submit further supporting documents, complete a disclosure and meet the legal requirements.  Once all of this has been satisfied, you get to sign the B-Corporation declaration of interdependence!

This will be valid for two years at which point the company has to go through the process again to ensure they are still maintaining the standards expected of B-Corps. 

Harper Macleod is here to help

If you think that a B-Corporation certification is right for you then get in contact with us and we can advise you on the benefits, the process and whether we think it is an appropriate step for your business.  If you are already certified as a B-Corporation then we would love to speak to you and see how we can assist with further investment and growing your business to help lead the B-Corp movement in Scotland. 

Harper Macleod will be running an event on B Corporations later this year. Please contact [email protected] to register your interest in this event.