While food giants are developing sustainability programs for corporate social responsibility reports, some food businesses are setting the example by doing vs. reporting. These companies are benefit certified corporations. They are for-profit businesses that provide benefit and true sustainability to the communities they operate in, the environment, their employees, and customers. It goes beyond securing the supply chain to ensure their success to sharing the success in a way that benefits all of us.
The process of becoming a certified benefit business is not easy, but with hard work and persistence, it is achievable. Companies that have gone through organic certification, non-GMO project verification or other 3rd party audits will be more familiar with the process. B Lab is a nonprofit group with the mission of partnering with companies to achieve certification. They are leading the global movement of “people using business as a force for good.” Businesses that shift focus from “competing to be the best in the world to being the best for the world” allow all of us to profit.
The first step for a business interested in becoming a Bcorp is to take the B Impact Assessment. Use this first assessment as the place to start and learn where to build systems and strengthen current processes. No one passes the first time, and it takes a lot of dedication to complete the process. The standards for the assessment are created and revised by the Standards Advisory Council. Blab offers help on all aspects of the certification process.
The B Assessment covers the following five categories:
- Environment – evaluates a company’s environmental performance on issues such as energy use, materials, resources, and emissions. The environmental impact of a company’s supply chain and transportation are key components for food companies. Some companies might solve an environmental issue, provide renewable energy, conserve resources, reduce food waste, or otherwise have positive impacts on the environment.
- Workers– assess the company’s relationship with its workforce. How does it treat workers through compensation, benefits, training or ownership opportunities?
- Customers –measures the impact a company has on its customers. Does the company sell products or services that promote public benefit? Does the product or service improve health, preserve the environment, create economic opportunities, and promote arts/sciences?
- Community– how does the company impact the community? How involved is the company in the local community? This measures the company’s policies and practices around community service and charitable giving.
- Governance – assess a company’s accountability and transparency. The section focuses on the company’s mission, stakeholder engagement, and overall transparency of the company’s practices and policies.
The process for getting Bcorp certified takes dedication, time, and money. Living in a global economy is changing the way we do business and how we evaluate success. Bcorps remind us of the way we used to do business in our neighborhoods and communities. Benefit corporations might not be well known (yet), but remember there was a time when organic was a small group of people interested in an alternative to chemical-based food production. Organic soon became a movement as more people took notice and added their voices to the cause. The movement became validated by standards and certifications. Today – the organic industry is worth billions of dollars.
If you’re interested in being a change maker, creating a better way to do business, and joining a community of 2,391 like-minded entrepreneurs Bcorp might be the certification for you. Start with where you are today, with the B Impact Assessment.