Over a year ago, B Lab launched a review of the performance requirements for the B Corp Certification. Our aim was to understand whether more specific and mandatory performance requirements on key topics could ensure that B Corp Certification remains a differentiation of high-performing companies using business as a force for good.
Following a year of engagement with more than 1,200 stakeholders from around the world, B Lab’s Standards Advisory Council, an independent, multi-stakeholder group overseeing B Lab’s standards, has agreed on a proposed structure for further development of revised B Corp Performance Requirements. This structure will explore approximately ten specific topics that are universally applicable and most relevant towards achieving an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy, and include specific performance requirements that will be contextualized to a company’s particular circumstances. Featured in these requirements is the usage of and/or performance on the B Impact Assessment — historically the primary driver of the B Corp Performance Requirements — recognizing the Assessment’s historic and ongoing value for impact management and benchmarking.
Because these changes signal a major shift for B Lab, our standards, and the over 4,500 B Corps currently in our community, we’re engaging in a thoughtful and multi-phased development and implementation approach to ensure that the new requirements are more impactful, clear, and responsive to stakeholders. We also want to ensure that current B Corps and companies interested in joining the community will have sufficient time to adapt to these new standards. The development of the proposed requirements will occur through multiple phases of additional stakeholder engagement in 2022, with implementation aimed for early 2023 using a phased approach.
Drafts of new performance requirements will initially be focused on the following core topics based on extensive stakeholder feedback and an analysis of potential topics that are comprehensive and universally applicable:
All topics are subject to ongoing revision, inclusion, or exclusion based on ongoing research and input from stakeholders. The incorporation of other cross-cutting and related topics (such as sustainable procurement) will also be considered.
Among other options considered, a path forward with a comprehensive set of requirements on specific topics was determined to be the most impactful, clearest, and most responsive, for the following reasons:
This proposal also introduces a variety of other benefits including the ability to introduce more meaningfully contextualized requirements to size, sector, and regions, and to identify and acknowledge ‘equivalent’ standards that a company may already be meeting and therefore would negate the need for additional verification. (For example, if a company already has an approved third party certification on a topic related to human rights, that could be used to fulfill the human rights requirement.)
While there are several open questions for further development over the next year, among the most important remaining questions is the specific role of the B Impact Assessment. Importantly, stakeholder engagement has identified that the B Impact Assessment is an incredibly powerful and detailed mechanism to benchmark performance and manage impact. This is further demonstrated by its usage from more than 150,000 businesses, including both B Corps and non-B Corps. And yet, its complexity also produces limitations, including challenges of contextualization, efficient, and accurate completion and verification and managing score changes across version changes. The incorporation of the B Impact Assessment as a component of the B Corp Certification Performance Requirements introduces exciting opportunities to think about ways to leverage its strengths more effectively while also avoiding some of those potential limitations.
Over the course of 2022, we will undertake the following performance requirements development phases:
These timelines are subject to change based on the lessons learned within each phase. While we know that no standard will ever be perfect, and that there will continue to be refinements and adjustments in the future, our first priority is ensuring both an inclusive development process and the highest quality standards possible, which sometimes requires changes to timelines.
As indicated in the development timeline, to provide input during the draft development phase and/or signal your interest in participating in the testing phase, please complete this testing participation and feedback form (available only in English) by April 30, 2022.
As the standards are further developed, B Lab will also be working towards developing a detailed implementation plan for the new standards. Most importantly, any new standards will:
The goal with new standards is not to remove companies from the B Corp Community, or necessarily to make the certification more exclusive or difficult to obtain. Rather, the goal is to ensure that the movement continues reflecting the leadership necessary for the moment and the future, which includes ensuring it is feasible and accessible for a variety of businesses, such as those that have been historically marginalized. At the same time, standards are only meaningful if they are able to differentiate high performance, and if they are understood, embraced, and met. Thanks to everyone who has participated in the development process so far, and to all those upholding our standards to achieve an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.
To learn more about B Lab’s review of B Corp Performance Requirements, please read our previous announcements here and/or join one of the two informational webinars that will be held on 22nd of March 2022 at 11 am Eastern Time and 7 pm Eastern Time.