Schools are increasingly taking initiative to ensure that their purchasing aligns with their mission and core values through creating sustainable purchasing policies. But how can an institution ensure it is working with businesses that advance the school’s mission? Good news: B Lab is cultivating a global movement of businesses as a force for good is taking shape and they are measuring what matters. Read more to learn about how businesses are creating value for shareholders as well as customers, community, environment, and employees.

B-Lab is a non-profit organization supporting a movement of businesses as a force for good through the creation of the B-corps certification and the Benefit Corporation business structure. Before we move forward, below are the key terms to know:

  • B-corps certification: this is a certification available for for-profit companies. Obtaining this certification requires the business to take the B Impact Assessment (explored below) and score above an 80 out of a possible 200 points. This certification does not dictate the structure of the business; rather, it assesses business practices to ensure they are operating in a sustainable and transparent manner. There are currently 2,048 B Corps located across 50 countries. DoneGood, Stonyfield, and Trillium Asset Management are some names you might recognize that have obtained b corp certification.
  • Benefit Corporation: this is a business structure. A business structure essentially determines how a company is taxed. Cooperative, corporation, S corporation, and LLC are some common examples of business structures. B Lab has worked to create this new business structure, the Benefit Corporation, which is now recognized in 30 states in the country (see here for states where this is available). Patagonia, Kickstarter, and Method are examples of businesses that are Benefit Corporations.
  • B Impact Assessment: Just as school’s utilize STARS, businesses are utilizing the B Impact Assessment. The Assessment assesses criteria of for-profit businesses in four categories: governance, workers, community, and environment (see here for sample questions). The Assessment is an educational tool as well, offering examples of best practices to guide a company’s thinking and prompt action. This assessment is required for businesses seeking B-corps certification (must score at least an 80) and is recommended for businesses that are filed as Benefit Corporations. The creation of this assessment places value on good governance practices (such as evaluating management and having systems to ensure the social or environmental mission of your company will be maintained over time), community relationships and partnerships (developing social and environmental standards within your industry, understanding how your business impacts underserved populations), worker health and safety (vacation and sick days, reimbursement for continuing education), and environmental responsibility (sharing environmental audits and recording waste).

B Lab has locations across the globe, all of which are working to spread the message of business as a force for good and lobby for legislation to allow for the Benefit Corporation to be considered a business designation in that specific country or state.  

Why obtain certification or file as a Benefit Corporation?

Because business can be a force for good, and campuses are looking to align their purchasing practices with their mission. The b-corp certification and Benefit Corporation status available for for-profits certifies that these businesses meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.  AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS), the industry standard tool for measuring a school’s sustainability performance, lists Benefit Corporations as a sample criteria for guidelines and expectations for business partners in its Sustainable Procurement credit (see here).
B-Lab has spurred a global movement in the business world, providing a new standard and verification for businesses serving as an indicator to schools, consumers, and investors that a business’s practices add value to those beyond shareholders: community, environment, employees, and consumers. B Lab is measuring what matters, setting the bar high for how businesses can lead the way in creating a thriving economy and healthy world; this is the standard to look to when aligning purchasing with mission.