The Financial Times wrote a horrible article about how the B Corp community is losing its soul now that large companies are getting certified. Some have even called B Corp as a tool for greenwashing… so it begs the question:
Now that multinational corporations are become Certified B Corporations, does that mean B Corp is losing credibility? Interesting question and lots to say (as usual).
The Certification has Become Harder, Not Easier
As someone who has gone through the B Corp assessment multiple times, for multiple brands, I can assure you those questions about “selling out” are coming from people who haven’t actually gone through the process themselves. The reason is this: the B Corp certification criteria have intentionally gotten HARDER over the years. In some cases brands have kept their certification but their scores have gone down since B Corp is making the process harder to pass. The standards haven’t weakened in order to allow for larger companies to pass.
Larger Companies Become Certified Means Social Impact is Mainstreaming
The success of multinationals achieving B Corp status shows that it’s WORKING, and by “it” I mean the B Corp vision to drive businesses to focus on more than just driving shareholder value. If larger companies are seeing the value in driving more positive impact, that is a win.
Access to Socially Responsible Companies is Important, Let’s Not Keep it Small
There is always a group of purists who don’t like when larger companies get involved in sustainability, DEI or safety programs that are credible, it’s all seen as greenwashing. Each instance I like to take on a case by case basis rather than making blanket statements. However, we should want large companies to care enough to be ranked on their HR policies, sustainability practices and if they pass this hard certification, they should be celebrated rather than trying to keep the best practices only for small, niche and often more expensive brands. Access and scale of socially responsible business is critical to the future of our collective success.
B Corporation Isn’t Greenwashing, It’s Designed to be Comprehensive of the Whole Business
Others have criticized that B Corp doesn’t automatically mean a company is sustainable or non-toxic. And that is true, it hasn’t been designed to ONLY assess sustainability and safety programs. B Corp certification is multifaceted and looks at a lot of programs across a company including ingredient safety, sustainability, workplace policies, anti corruption, board diversity, health care benefits etc. Every company ranks higher in different areas but needs to hit the minimum to pass.
While there is a lot to debate in today’s world and I’m the first to be critical of certifications and large players coming late to the sustainability game, we should celebrate the fact that BCorp is mainstreaming.
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