The third installment in our sustainability series addresses what it means to be a Certified B Corporation, B Corp for short, why it might be good for business, and how/why supply chains are involved.
Next time you’re at the store or shopping online, be on the lookout for this logo designating your favorite business as a “Certified B Corporation”. If you know the brands Patagonia or Ben and Jerry’s you know two of the largest, and oldest, B Corps.
B Lab, the nonprofit that validates and provides certification, defines B Corp Certification as, “a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.” Becoming a B Corp is completely voluntary but can build trust and confidence with customers, shareholders, and employees which can yield improved business performance. The certification process has three main components: an evaluation of an organization’s social and environmental performance, a legal commitment via governance, and promoting transparency of results.
The Assessment tool explores and evaluates five impact areas across the business so it isn’t only about examining the supply chain. It just so happens that the supply chain is a common thread in each of the impact areas.
The five impact areas evaluated in the B Impact Assessment and their relevance to supply chain can be seen below:
|Investigating economic and social well-being of the communities in which they operate||· Selecting culturally aligned suppliers
· Local engagement programs
|Exploring offering products or services that support that greater good||· Sourcing the right raw materials and packaging
· Offering carbon neutral shipping solutions
|Looking at sustainability and impacts on air, water, climate, land, and biodiversity||· Making your next capital investment in a new facility
· Overall logistics and transportation (from ocean to air to rail to road)
|Ensuring organization’s mission, ethics are aligned along with accountability and transparency||· How you manage suppliers across the network
· How organizational information is shared – action versus words
|Digging into the organization’s compensation, benefits, training, and ownership structure||· Attracting and retaining talent
· Professional development opportunities to build internal competencies
Understanding how your supply chain can be utilized as a force for good and drive positive change in each of the impact areas above will be critical in keeping up with the shifts in the regulatory landscape towards enforcing many of the ESG policies. There is no doubt more change is coming and that organizations will need to be prepared to fully assess their supply chains and their impacts across multiple, dynamic dimensions.
Becoming a B Corp can serve multiple purposes but it can also be used as a tool to better understand your current state as a supply chain and/or organization while also identifying areas that need to improve. It is certainly not the only way, but at the end of the process, obtaining a certification credential can be meaningful as it becomes a tangible symbol to showcase your organization’s commitment.
—Kira Bilecky, St. Onge Company