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We Achieved B Corp Certification!

Here's What It Means (and Why It's Important)

Cristina Garzozi | Published: Dec 04, 2020

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As you may have heard, we just became a Certified B Corporation™ (B Corp)! But if you're like most people, you may have never even heard of B Corps, let alone understand why they’re so great. So here's a little background on the certification process and why we decided it was important for Plant to pursue.

What Are B Corps?

B Lab, a non-profit organization founded in 2006, created the B Corporation certification program as a way to help for-profit businesses create value for society. The “B” stands for beneficial and indicates that the certified company meets the highest standards of transparency, accountability, sustainability, and performance.

The idea was born from the business experiences of B Lab co-founder Bart Houlahan. In the 90s he helped lead a basketball shoe and apparel company called AND 1, which he described as a socially responsible business before the concept was popular. When the company sold in 2005, measures for social responsibility were removed from the company’s policies. Bart said he felt like he “lost a limb” watching all their commitments to their employees, the environment, and the community get stripped away within weeks of the sale. Because of this, Bart and his partners decided to create an organization that would set standards and provide certification for businesses that want to do good and make money.

The B Corp certification measures a company's performance in five categories:

  1. Governance: mission, engagement, ethics, and transparency

  2. Workers: financial security, health, wellness, safety, career development, engagement, and satisfaction

  3. Community: diversity, equity, inclusion, economic impact, civic engagement and giving, and supply chain management

  4. Environment: environmental management, air and climate, water, and land and life

  5. Customers: customer stewardship

The Certification Process

In order to achieve B Corp certification, a company must earn a score greater than 80 points in the B Impact Assessment (an audit tool developed by B Lab to measure the impact of your company on your employees, customers, society, and the environment). Questions are weighted by impact for your specific business size, industry, and location, with some questions worth as much as 2.72 points and others as little as 0.03 points. In addition to life-cycle assessments of your products and operations, the tool also assesses things like your company’s bonuses and profit sharing policies, the safety measures you take for your employees, whether or not you source local vendors, and how you address customer privacy. It’s an iterative process, with guidance provided for how to improve in any areas where your business falls short of B Corp standards.

Businesses who complete the process with a verified passing score get to display the Certified B Corp logo.

After months of working to ensure that all required measures were being taken across every Plant department and team, we entered the verification phase of the certification process. In this phase, a B Lab analyst was assigned to our company to research and confirm the answers we provided in the B Impact Assessment. The process took about six months and involved furnishing documentation, conducting a verification interview, and then finally completing a peer review of all materials by a second B Lab analyst. After all reviews were finished, Plant achieved an official score of 93.5 points. B Lab tells us that companies achieve an average score of 50.9 points on their first try, so while we’re excited to continue improving, we’re pretty proud of our score!

Social and environmental responsibility have always been core values for Plant, but achieving B Corp certification provides benchmarks for our performance and keeps us accountable to our word. B Corp standards are now embedded into our operations as company policies, and our compliance will be evaluated by B Lab every three years.

The certification was also an important first step in our decarbonization goal; we used B Corp guidelines to establish systems for monitoring our emissions, water use, electricity use, and waste generation, among many other things. From the board room to the factory floor, the measures we implemented as a part of the B Corp certification process will fuel our continued improvement.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cristina Garzozi is Plant’s Environmental Health & Sustainability Manager, ensuring the health and well-being of Plant employees as well as the health and sustainability of Plant’s products and services.

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