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Not just any company can proclaim that it's a Certified B Corporation. Help your staff understand what the certification means.

NFM Staff

July 14, 2021

3 Min Read
Certified B Corporations logo

More and more products bearing the Certified B Corporation stamp are popping up on retail shelves. Our secret shopper stopped by a natural foods store in the Southwest to see if staff knew the scoop on this emerging third-party certification.

Natural Foods Merchandiser: What is a Certified B Corporation?

Retailer: It means it’s a good company. Like, they take care of their people, they have responsible sourcing, they are green—all the good stuff you want to see in a brand.

Secret Shopper: Can just any company call itself a B Corp?

Retailer: No, it’s pretty tough to get certified, I think. They have to show lots of proof, too … I think it’s an organization that certifies companies, not the government. But it’s becoming more popular.

Secret Shopper: Yep, I’ve noticed the seal on more products in your store, so that’s why I was curious.

Retailer: It’s a definite plus when a brand is a B Corp.

How did this retailer do?

Veena Harbaugh, marketing director at B Lab U.S. and Canada

Our expert educator: Veena Harbaugh, marketing director at B Lab U.S. and Canada

The retailer did great! The core aspects of Certified B Corporations—B Corps, for short—absolutely come through in his responses: They are better businesses, certification is a rigorous process, and this is a growing global movement. Like the retailer said, not just any company can call itself a B Corp. B Corps meet the highest standard of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability for businesses. To fulfill the performance requirement for certification, a company must complete the B Impact Assessment, a free, confidential platform that measures and manages the company’s positive impact on its workers, community and customers and the environment. 

Once a company has submitted its assessment, B Lab, the nonprofit I work for, verifies practices in each area and assigns it a score. B Corp Certification requires a fee and a minimum verified total score of 80 across all impact areas. By comparison, a typical business usually scores in the 50s.

The company must also make its B Impact Report score transparent on and amend its legal governing documents to require that it considers the impact of its decisions on all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Then, to maintain B Corp certification, a company must recertify every three years, which ensures that it continues to improve its impact, even as the business grows or changes. 

Today, there are nearly 4,000 Certified B Corporations spanning 74 countries and 150 industries. Our latest awareness study found that one in four Americans now recognizes the Certified B Corporation logo, so awareness is definitely growing too, largely due to the leadership of those in the natural products space. More and more consumers are using the logo as a tool to recognize and support better businesses.

Some businesses may also be a benefit corporation, which denotes a business structure that’s legally recognized in 38 states. While B Lab works to pass such legislation, the legal structure is distinct from Certified B Corporation.

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