A New Stamp of Approval – what exactly is a Certified B Corporation?

*Blog cross-posted from SocialFinance.ca

Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems

To receive certification, companies must meet high quality and independent standards of social and environmental performance in the areas of accountability, employees, consumers, community and environment. This certification, based on a points system, is provided through B Lab, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting this growing ecosystem of companies creating good.

This new type of corporation addresses the fact that while government and non-profit services are necessary, they are not sufficiently prepared to tackle the overwhelming social and environmental issues we face. These values-based companies are striking a chord with conscious consumers and investors who are looking to make an impact with their capital. However, today – where the benefit of the doubt cannot simply be given – how can one be sure whether a corporation has embedded such values into their culture or whether they just have another heart-tugging marketing campaign?

B Corp certification – “This company considers its stakeholders in all its business and adheres to high social and environmental standards”

A third party and reliable standard must exist. The B Corp certification provides a stamp that says “This company considers its stakeholders in all its business and adheres to high social and environmental standards” in the same way a Fair Trade stamp says “This product was made using fair practices.” Unlike the Fair Trade stamp, B Corp certification goes beyond a product or a practice, accounting for the entire company and its impacts.

As of this post, there are over 460 Certified B Corps in North America with $2.2 billion in revenues. Toronto-based communications firm Hypenotic – is a primary example of a Certified B Corp. They focus on meaningful marketing by helping brands that are doing good things become relevant and useful. Hypenotics scored high marks in the community area due to their involvement with local stakeholders. This is demonstrated in their ownership, clients, suppliers and employees. They also scored high in accountability, specifically in the transparency of their company information and disclosure.

Centre for Impact Investing

As announced last week, MaRS will be launching a Centre for Impact Investing (CII). We are actively seeking to build a new Canadian economy of social businesses, mobilizing private capital for public good. We see B Corps playing essential roles in building this economy and have formed a unique partnership with B Lab to create the Canadian B Corporation Hub right here at MaRS.

The aim of this hub is to
 support the current Canadian B Corporation community; to advocate for relevant legislative change in the provinces starting with Ontario;
 and to support the growth and development of social impact metrics (i.e. Global Impact Investing Rating System).

What impact would a B Corp have on you? How would your company perform? Take the B Impact Assessment to find out.

For more information on how to become part of the Canadian B Corp community, visit www.bcorporation.net.