At the end of 2022, just before Christmas break, we got the fantastic news that we’d successfully recertified as a B Corp.
Certified B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
B Corp is an amazing reflection of how we choose to do business. It’s a worthy accreditation and we are very proud to be a B Corp. It’s also not an easy accreditation to get, which is one of the reasons we chose to go for it.
To recertify to be a B Corp takes pretty much the same amount of work as getting the original certification. So I was stoked when our new score of 115.1 was confirmed.
Since going through the process I’ve shared what I learned with many people in the B Corp community, and here are the highlights.
1. It’s more than a one-person job
It’s pretty rare that one person in an organisation knows how absolutely everything happens day to day across the business.
We decided the best way to tackle gathering all the data needed was for me to interview members of our team, and get a handle on the details of:
- how we do individual processes
- what’s been documented
- what processes have reusable resources.
Once I’d collected this information, I consolidated it into the application via B Labs’ Business Impact Assessment, a free tool that measures your business impact.
Emily, our Co-CEO, went through all the answers with me to make sure we both agreed with what I was suggesting we submit. She added extra insights and fed in impact stories from across Springload that I hadn’t been aware of. It’s truly heartwarming seeing all the impact we are creating in one place.
2. It’s more than a week’s worth of work
The application took roughly 80 hours all up — about two weeks of full-time work.We spread the process over two months alongside other work.
3. Connecting the dots from your strategy to B Corp is important
We referenced Springload’s business strategy at many stages of the Business Impact Assessment. I was really grateful we have it clearly articulated in a central place where the whole team can refer to it.
This allowed me to draw a clear line from our business strategy to how we create social and environmental impact today, and how we want to continue to in the future.
4. Understanding operational points vs Impact Business Models will help you
At the end of the recertification I felt I had a better understanding of how the scoring system for B Corp works.
Currently, organisations earn points in two ways.
- Operational points: How your organisation is set up to run.
- Impact Business Models: How your organisation does business in a way that values people and planet alongside profit. For example, if you have a buy one give one model, or your work benefits society.
If you unlock an additional Impact Business Model, that’s where you’ll see your score jump. By better understanding the IBMs, we were able to unlock points we’d missed the first time around.
5. Evidence is key (and will help your business)
A good chunk of my time was spent documenting things we do every day that are part of Springload’s DNA, but which we’d never written down before. This gave us the perfect opportunity to weave these values-led practices into our team resources for current employees, and into onboarding materials for new employees.
I love that going through the B Corp process has helped us develop clearer ways of working for both existing and new employees.
B Lab will need anonymised information about your business. Anything considered sensitive personal data is anonymised when it is shared with B Lab — for example, your demographic metrics or information that shows you pay a living wage.
To make sure there are no surprises for our people in this process, we:
- made sure our team was aware this was the case to reassure them we are keeping their personal data safe.
7. Leave yourself good handover notes for your next recertification
Knowledge can get siloed over time, and two people in the same business can answer the same question very differently.
As you’re going through the application, keep good notes on how you answer each question and how you interpreted it. Save your answers to your internal resources, for example your intranet pages.
For data privacy reasons, a lot of information and evidence is removed from B Labs’ systems once your accreditation is renewed. By keeping your own records, you will save yourself and your team a lot of time and effort when your next certification is due.
8. You’ll lose points in some areas, while gaining in others
We gained points in many areas (yay!), but our points were also reduced for some questions since our first certification.
As an ever-evolving business, we change how we do things all the time. Even since December 2022, we’ve made changes to how we do things that will affect how many points we’ll get for individual questions next time around.
These are the right decisions for our business and our team. And our score will be affected. That’s something we are going to need to be comfortable with if we want to keep being an authentic B Corp. And that’s ok.
9. It takes a (values-led) village
I’m a big fan of working smarter, not harder. When I need help or inspiration I reach out to my B Corp community.
As one of the B Local leaders for Wellington, I regularly see B Corps learning from other B Corps. Members of the B Corp community are generous with their knowledge and love to connect with other people and organisations working in (or trying to move into) the impact space.
If you’re keen to learn more about values-led business or connect with B Corps, I encourage you to sign up to B Local Wellington to hear about upcoming events. It’s regularly helped us become more impactful at Springload.