Innocent: Are ‘B Corps’ The Best Solution?
As you probably already know, Innocent Drinks have become the latest ‘big name’ company to join the long list of ‘B Corps’.
Considering B Corps are companies that meet high standards for social and environmental performance, Innocent seem like a perfect fit. After all, I’ve written multiple articles on why they’re so great at delivering social impact.
However, why should companies actually become B Corps? And are they the ultimate solution that they’re often made out to be?
What are B Corps?
It’s highly likely that if you’ve got this far, you already understand the concept of B Corps. In case you don’t, the B Corporation themselves have made a pretty neat video explaining the concept.
While the message of the video is practically timeless, the numbers could do with updating. As of today, more than 2100 companies are certified, spanning 50 different countries.
What’s the point?
Realistically, becoming a B Corp isn’t much of a leap for most organisations. Companies like Innocent were always trying to benefit society, it’s just now they’ve been recognised for doing so.
In that sense then, some people would be tempted to conclude that the B Corp label is pointless. After all, it doesn’t necessarily change the behaviour of companies, it just gives them a new logo to put on their email footers.
Unfortunately, many third party accreditations face this problem. They’re seen as yet another sales technique, when it reality, they can be really useful.
In fact, as accreditations and certifications go, I think the B Corp label is arguably the best one that companies can achieve.
1. It confirms an organisation’s claims
As CSR continues to gain traction, so too does the concept of virtue signalling. Ultimately, companies know that if they ‘big up’ how great they are for society, some customers will actively choose to buy from them.
Being a B Corp adds a bit of much needed credibility and integrity to a companies claims. It’s basically a fact checker. To become a B Corp companies are somewhat ruthlessly scored. If you don’t score 80/200, you don’t make the cut.
That means that customers can be sure that companies with the B Corp label are actually doing what they say they are.
The modern CSR landscape will be characterised by transparency, and B Corps embody that perfectly.
On top of this, B Corps have to pass the certification every 2 years if they wish to continue being part of the community. This means that companies have an incentive to make sure they think long term, rather than try and cash in on CSR as a passing fad.
2. It’s scope is broad and simple
One of the biggest advantages with B Corps is that the assessment requires companies to excel in a number or areas.
Largely speaking, it’s broken down into social performance, environmental performance and treatment of workers. Companies will struggle to become B Corps if they don’t tick the right boxes in all of these areas, which actually makes the B Corp label carry far more weight.
Too often with accreditations, the requirements are very specific. Customers can guess that they’re vaguely positive, but they don’t really no what they’re doing.
With B Corps, the whole thing is set up with that lack of customer knowledge in mind.
Because of the multifaceted assessment, customers know that B Corps just mean companies that are good for the world. It’s very simple, and because the B Corp community has been slowly adding big names, it’s very credible.
3. It’s collaborative
As I’ve spoken about countless times, the problems we’re facing can’t be solved by any one person or company.
With this in mind, the B Corp community is a breath of fresh air.
They organise annual summits in randomly chosen cities, and encourage companies to network, partner up and share best practice.
This is pretty much exactly what needs to happen if we want companies to solve social and environmental problems. By being able to draw on the experience of other firms, the learning curve is much easier to ride.
Generally speaking I think third party certifications get a bit of a bad rep.
However, they’re often largely to blame for that perception.
With B Corps however, I really think they’ve got it right. Becoming a B Corp genuinely means something both to the business in question, and the general public. Of course the community is a work in progress, but I think it’s an exciting trend to keep an eye on.
As they mention in their video, B Corps exist to redefine success in business.
This right here is the crucial reason why I think B Corps should be promoted and respected. We need to shift away from ruthless profit maximisation. We need to replace short term targets with long term ambitions, and we need companies to ‘B The Change’.
Hi! I’m an author and blogger within the fields of social impact and responsible business. I believe that businesses can be a force for good in the world, and this website contains my thoughts on how that can work.