by Kate Vandeveld
It’s official: this month, WhyWhisper became a Certified B Corporation!
From day one, our focus has always been on being a better business – but we weren’t always as clear on how to communicate, maintain, or measure it. Over the years, we’ve applied our learnings from our own experiences and research, and invited open dialogue with everyone we could. We listened, observed, evaluated, and reevaluated accordingly.
As a result, we’ve created a different kind of company – one that provides value-driven services through a flexible, person-focused work structure. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, but we’re excited to continue to evolve. That’s where the B Corps community comes in. Read on to learn what B Corps are, why they matter, why we decided to become one, and more!
What Are B Corps?
Certified B Corps are for-profit companies that have completed a rigorous assessment to meet verified standards of social and environmental performance, legal accountability, and public transparency. These standards were developed by B Lab, a nonprofit that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
We’ve written in the past about some of the more well-known B Corps, like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and Warby Parker, but there are over 1,700 Certified B Corps. Every single one of them is working to redefine the concept of success, and use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. You can find the full list of Certified B Corps here.
Why Are B Corps Important?
Certified B Corps are leading a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
Rather than just focusing on the bottom line, these companies understand that their responsibility goes beyond their shareholders to also include their stakeholders – their workers, suppliers, customers, communities and the planet. Unlike traditional companies, B Corps are actually required by law to consider their impact on all of these groups. And by bringing these companies together, the B Corp community is able to harness the power of their collective voice to do more good for the world.
Because the assessment is so rigorous, only those businesses that are truly making a difference can make the cut. In other words, this list won't include any companies that are just looking for good PR. The B Corp assessment isn’t a one-time deal either. Each company must go through the process every two years. Simultaneously, the assessment is regularly updated according to new learnings and understanding. As such, B Corp certification helps consumers identify the real change-makers, so they can support and invest in them accordingly.
Why did WhyWhisper become a B Corp?
At WhyWhisper, everything we do is centered on our company values – accountability, purpose, positivity, learning, and empowerment. For us, becoming a B Corp was 100% value-aligned:
- The assessment and transparency that are both required in the B Corp certification process are designed to hold companies accountable to the highest standards of social and environmental performance.
- The B Corps community is made up of positive and purpose-driven individuals using business as a force for good.
- Being a B Corp is not about being perfect or right. It’s about working to be better, trying new things, and always learning.
- B Corps certification centers on the premise that all stakeholders are of value, thereby empowering workers, suppliers, customers, communities and the planet. Simultaneously, Certified B Corps support one another in their endeavors, events, and evolution, and they come together to take action against injustice. For example, in response to a recent decision by North Carolina to approve new legislation that stops cities from passing anti-discrimination laws at the local level, the entire community of Certified B Corps decided that until the law was repealed, they would be relocating a series of large-scale events scheduled to take place in the state.
This is a community of which we’re proud to be a part.
How Do I Become a B Corp?
We’ve mentioned that certification is a rigorous and comprehensive process, and for good reason: that level of rigor is what makes it possible for consumers to trust that Certified B Corps are actually working toward substantive impact. But don’t let that scare you off! Going through the assessment is an incredible learning experience, no matter how you score.
Here’s what it entails:
1. Meet Performance Requirements: These assess the overall impact of your company on all of its stakeholders, in terms of its business model, culture, and operations
a. B Impact Assessment & Interview
b. Supporting Documentation Review
c. Background Check
2. Meet Legal Requirements: You may need to amend your governing documents or adopt benefit corporation status to meet the legal requirement for certification for your state of incorporation and corporate structure. This step integrates your impact into your company’s DNA, ensuring that your mission will carry on in spite of managerial or operational changes.
3. Make it Official: Once you’ve passed the assessment and met legal requirements, its time to sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence and Term Sheet to make it official! You’ll also pay a bi-annual fee, which is based on your company’s revenue.
Throughout the certification process, the B Lab team is readily available to assist you, even offering webinars that help you decide whether it makes sense for your company to be certified, and how to raise your assessment score, if need be.
We found the process to be incredibly educational. In becoming a Certified B Corp, we were able to take stock of the areas where we wanted to be better, both immediately and down the line. For example, during our own assessment, we realized we had never created a formalized list of preferred ethical suppliers. Though we were all making efforts to buy sustainable and ethical products, we were not openly sharing our resources or capturing this valuable information so it could be scaled. So we made one. We also made improvements to our internal review processes, which resulted in a better feedback mechanism with both our team and our clients.
What Can I Do to Prepare for Assessment?
Our best advice is to begin examining your business decisions through the lenses of ethics, values, and care. Becoming a Certified B Corp isn't about one particular positive outcome; it’s about who your company is and what they value. It’s about focusing on learning and striving to be better in everything that you do.
- When hiring, focus on diversity, fair payment, benefits, trainings, and employee care programs.
- When buying supplies, look for environmentally friendly suppliers with ethical labor practices. If it’s possible, stay local.
- When assessing your workspace or looking at a new one, focus on efficiencies in energy consumption, resources and waste.
- When considering your products or services, think about ways you can address social and environmental problems or support people and organizations who need it.
- When possible, give back. Implement an employee volunteer program. Donate to a local nonprofit organization. Share your space with the community.
- For more information, check out The B Corp Handbook by Ryan Honeyman – we found it to be a fantastic resource!
Is your company working to use business as a force for good? As more of us come together, the greater the impact will be.
If you’re interested in applying for B Corp Certification, we’re happy to help! Get in touch with our team by: