How can you show people your business is doing good in the world without proof? You can say you care about the environment and people, but having a third-party say it is stronger and more credible. This is one reason some organizations seek B Corp Certification.
In this article, we’ll share what it means to get B Corp certified in Canada and how you can use it to your advantage without being accused of greenwashing.
What is B Corp Certification?
B Corp is an official certification that says your business acts in a way that benefits society as a whole. It says your business prioritizes people and the planet in everything you do.
It involves a rigorous assessment to ensure you comply with three key areas:
- Social and environmental performance: Your business takes action to show it cares for people and the environment. This may include ethical treatment of staff and vendors, ethical supply chains, charitable giving, and other measurements of your company’s overall impact on society and the environment.
- Public Transparency: You must post your impact reports on the B Lab website. This is to build trust in B Corp organisations.
- Legal Accountability: You can provide proof of your steps to understand the impact of your actions on all stakeholders (workers, communities, customers, suppliers, environment, and shareholders).
Benefits of becoming a B Corp in Canada
B Corp is more than a certification. It acts as a standard for ethical businesses. Here are a few benefits of earning B Corp certification in Canada:
- Attracting passionate people: More often than ever, people choose to work for companies with like-minded, positive values regarding people and the environment. You will attract people who will give 110% towards your societal and environmental values.
- Making good marketing: According to BCorporation.net, there has been a 488% increase in news attention towards B Corp companies (2022 compared to 2019).
- Protecting your legacy and mission: B Corp framework, when followed, can increase the amount investors are willing to invest in your company,potentially paying 10% more.
- Connecting and partnering with other B Corps: You’re more likely to look for other B Corp Certified companies to do business with, strengthening the positive impact you can make together.
- Improving operational performance: With B Corp accountability, you’re more likely to prioritize positive societal and environmental impacts for consistent improvement.
- Differentiating yourself from competitors: If a customer or client is shortlisting a new supplier or company to do business with, they’re more likely to choose the B Corp business.
How to get B Corp status
It can take 8-12+ months to get B Corp Certification. It may require many members of your organisation to gather information and details necessary to prove your business processes, initiatives, and values.
Here are the steps to apply for B Corp certification in Canada:
- Understand the business case: Ensure you understand what you are applying for and what commitments it requires. Understand your business case for applying and your legal requirements to conform with certification standards.
- Create a team: B Corp certification applications require you to assemble a team. At the very least, you need buy-in from your board of directors, investors, and employees. It can help to pull in representatives from your legal, human resources, procurement, facilities, and leadership teams to support your bid.
- Do the B Corp impact assessment: This questionnaire can be completed online. Once you create an account, you can save the assessment links and return anytime to update them. This is helpful if you need more information before completing your application.
- Check your score and submit: Upon completing the assessment and achieving a score of at least 80, you can submit your assessment to the certification committee for review. If you don’t achieve the minimum score, you can apply again later when you have done the necessary improvements in your organisation. The application fee is $150 US.
You’ll need to reconfirm your compliance by re-submitting an impact assessment every 3 years.
For more details about the assessment, view bcorporation.com.
Examples of B Corps in Canada
Here are a few Canadian B Corps you may recognize:
Fairware Promotional Products specializes in custom-branded, sustainable promotional products. They source ethical and environmentally responsible products. Fairware assesses all new suppliers based on their Fairware Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure they partner with others who share their ethical and environmental values.
(Fairware is an Out-Smarts Marketing client, and we’re honoured to help support their sustainable values through their digital marketing.)
One of Fairware’s sustainable suppliers is Patagonia Works. Patagonia is a clothing manufacturer that demonstrates a bias for simplicity and utility. In an industry not typically known for being environmentally friendly, they actively work to limit their ecological impact. They design using materials that can be recycled and enact proactive measures to their entire manufacturing process to minimize the environmental effects.
Chop Value is another Vancouver-based company (and supplier for Fairware). They save wooden chopsticks from landfills and turn them into stunning furniture, home decor, and homewares. Chop Value sources the chopsticks from local communities through a franchising model. The company aims to create a positive and resource-efficient impact for a carbon-neutral future.
Business Development Bank of Canada
Many Canadian business owners may be familiar with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). They support Canadian entrepreneurs with financing and advisory services. They also have various programs, workshops, and support to help Canadian businesses get their B Corp certification.
Salt Spring Coffee
Coffee aficionados in Vancouver know Salt Spring Coffee. They have put social responsibility and sustainability at the heart of their business. The company stays true to its commitment to support organic farming (through its Fair to Farmer program), donating 1% of profits to innovative environmental projects worldwide, helping isolated Nicaraguan farmers install solar panels, and working with a farming co-op run by women in Uganda.
Ethically including green marketing in your company
Green marketing is when a company promotes environmentally friendly or sustainable products and/or business practices. If you have earned B Corp Certification, you should promote it in your organisation’s marketing. However, you need to strike a delicate balance between green marketing and greenwashing.
Greenwashing is when a company is (purposefully or is perceived to be) making false claims about its green and sustainability initiatives. Even with B Corp certification, you can still be accused of greenwashing. Ensure you’re doing your green marketing ethically. To avoid being called out for greenwashing, here are three things you can do:
- Include a B Corp or Environmental page on your website: Include your B Corp logo on your homepage (the footer is a good place) and include it, along with a written commitment to social and environmental sustainability, on a dedicated B Corp or Environmental page on your website.
- Back-up claims with data: Even with B Corp certification, it’s a best practice to always back up environmental claims with actual data. Third-party verified data is best, but any data will do.
- Compare responsibly: If comparing the sustainability of your products to a competitor, ensure you’re comparing similar products. Likewise, if comparing your ethical or societal values to that of another company, ensure you’re comparing one similar in niche to yours.
Learn more in our guide to greenwashing and how to avoid it.
Are you an aspiring B Corp?
Does your company prioritize people and the planet? If you’re on a mission to do good in the world, we want to help. Talk to the Out-Smarts Marketing team, and we can help you position your marketing to show off your best attributes: your commitment to making the world a better place. It doesn’t matter if you have B Corp certification or are just doing your small part. We have the skills and experience to help you grow your impact on the world through digital marketing.
Book a free consultation today to learn how we can help.
DID YOU KNOW: Our team at Out-Smarts started their B Corp journey in 2018, then the Pandemic hit and we got busy supporting our clients. We’re getting back on track now and hope to obtain our own B Corp certification in 2023.