How B Corps Can Continue to Lead the Way for Sustainability

Moving Forward in a Greenwashed World

This post is part of our Sustainability Series -- an ongoing series where our co-founder Steven Korner discusses various issues relating to sustainability and business.

Recently, a few companies became B Corp certified that ruffled many feathers within the sustainability community. Nespresso and Evian were two of the most widely controversial certifications, and many B corp businesses have reacted to this news in a negative way.

Personally, I think it’s great that big companies are striving for B Corp certifications, as it demonstrates the wider impact B Corp is truly having on the culture of business. The fact that the likes of these companies want to become B Corp certified shows the power and influence that it can have on consumers.

In the same regard, I believe it’s important to hold all companies – big and small – accountable for their impact on the world. Bigger companies, in particular, have a larger effect and the way they approach environmental and human impacts should reflect that. They, naturally, have more resources to be able to tackle hard challenges and promote greater sustainability, and they should use these resources to strive for high standards.

When B Corp was first launched in 2006, sustainability was a niche impact area for businesses and companies worldwide. But as B Corp and the wider sustainability movement have grown, we need to examine how we grow with it.

Technologies, processes, and business practices have evolved and improved a lot over the past sixteen years. With that, what it means to be a sustainable business leader has also changed. We need to acknowledge that as we collectively move to a more circular and sustainable future, the standards of what it means to be a business for good should increase and change as well. B Lab has acknowledged that, and they, too, are constantly improving and evaluating their systems.

Many, in recent weeks, have claimed that B Corp is no longer at the standard that it once was, as demonstrated by the ever-increasing certifications. However, to me, the standards are the same. Still, we have progressed to a point where achieving the minimum for certification is no longer as much of a commitment to better impact, as it is normal practice for many businesses.

The fact that Nespresso and Evian were able to score high enough to become certified is not the issue. The issue is that we need to constantly evaluate and tighten the standards in which we operate, to ensure they are strengthened every time.

As Method works on our own B Corp recertification this year, we are aiming to drastically improve our score from our original one three years ago. Increasing our score is not only a goal for us; it’s an imperative – to prove to ourselves, our staff, and our customers that we are continually working towards bigger and better goals.

Much like building strength slowly at the gym each day, businesses must build circularity and sustainability into their business practice through continued actions, strengthening their resiliency. Many companies – especially smaller ones – are working with more limited resources, and that change may not happen as quickly. But as one goal is reached, another is set, and slowly the bar is raised more and more. We were proud of our original B Corp score, but growing is the only way forward.

B Corp is still an extremely valuable tool for businesses to assess their impact on the world. I love that it examines not just the environmental impact, but the human and community impact as well. That’s why we worked to pursue it over many other environmental certifications out there. Measuring environmental impact is a great thing, but taking a more robust approach allows us to grow in every aspect of our business – from how we treat the planet to how we treat our employees.

It is still a tool we can use to grow, and help us understand our processes and practices and where they can change for the better. That will be true whether we agree with the Nespresso certification or not.

#BCorp #sustainablebusinessleaders #circulareconomy

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