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WE GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE JOURNEY

B Corp
Certification

TheModel

— B Corporation

An inclusive, equitable and regenerative economic system

The B Corp movement aims to create a community of leaders, companies and employees who use their business to have a positive impact on the planet and people.

They act together to exchange their good practices and consider their role in the economy: they want to be genuine, responsible citizens.

B Corps are a new type of business that combine profitability and positive impact.

The strength of this certification lies in creating a global framework that allows companies to integrate their ESG policies, practices, and strategies for the long term.

B Lab Global > B Lab Europe > B Lab Benelux > The Shift > BetterBusiness

BetterBusiness is a member of the The Shift association. We work directly with B Lab Benelux, B Lab Suisse and B Lab France. Our experts are trained  “B Leaders”.

Find the answers to all your questions in our FAQ.

Business as force for good.

Profitability – Planet People

To be the best for the world, not the best in the world.

OurSupport

— ON THE PATH TOWARDS CERTIFICATION

BetterBusiness supports companies on the path towards certification. Specifically, the time the support lasts will depend on your company’s sector, its size and its aims.

Our aim is to make the certification process as easy, as coherent and as lasting as possible for you.

Our aim is for you to focus on the added value of such an approach: to implement good practices at the heart of your business and to benefit from the positive impact of a team committed to and confident in your mission.

Classically, BetterBusiness proposes you proceed as follows:

What are your strong points and your weak points in the B Corps questionnaire?

We facilitate the process to complete the questionnaire with our support method upstream.

We support you in demonstrating your commitments by officialising your policy and objectives. These documents are customised and specific to you.

Support with your short, medium and long-term strategy, management and monitoring of your objectives in order of priority and relevance.

Analysis and checking of your questionnaire by B Lab support, management and advice.

Support, advice and tools.

B CorpWorld

— A FEW FIGURES
1
Unifying goal
739,605
Workers
8,069
Companies
95
Country
162
Industries

B CorpInBelgium

— Thriving B Corp Community

The B Corp movement was started 10 years ago in Belgium.

The number of Belgian B Corps is increasing exponentially, having more than doubled in the last two years.

If you want to find out about their performances in the 5 areas of impact, contact us.

78
Belgian B Corps
40
Companies in Brussels
24
Companies in Flanders
14
Companies in Wallonia

B CorpTestimonials

— A COMMUNITY AND A MOVEMENT

Much better than a long-winded explanation, here are some viewpoints from pioneer B corps:

The B Corps movement is one of the most important of our era, simply because companies must have an impact on the world and not just serve their shareholders – they have just as important a responsibility with respect to society and the planet.

Rose Marcario, CEO of PATAGONIA

B Corp is useful for us primarily in terms of the employer branding, i.e. attracting talent: clearly, young graduates want to work for companies that have a mission, and in the B Corp community we have a high profile, so they can find us more easily!

Eva Gouwens, CEO of FAIRPHONE

Our “employee branding” has gained weight: we are now regularly approached by professionals who want to give their career meaning by joining our organisation. Our public partners frequently ask for information about B Corp, understanding that it may be a way to escape the greenwashing specialists. And our ecosystem is also evolving. When we can, we try to work with other B Corps. And we do.

Matthias Navarro, founder of REDMAN.

QuestionsForum

— B Corp

B Corp – Certified Benefit Corporations, or B Corps, are companies certified by B Lab as organisations that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

B Lab – Non-profit organisation that created and manages the B Corp certification. Its mission is to transform the world economy for the benefit of all the people, all the communities on the planet.

B Leader – A person who has completed a training programme designed by B Lab to support and guide companies through the certification process.

BIA – means B Impact Assessment. It is a free and confidential platform that acts as a tool to help measure and manage your business’ impact on your stakeholders. This is the first step towards B Corps certification. A company has to be awarded 80 points by the BIA to be certified.

B Hive – This is a free platform that the B Corps community can use to connect, collaborate, access resources, share knowledge and offer reductions.

B Work – Free platform that anyone can use to search for work in a B Corp company.

Known as the B Global Network, B Lab is a worldwide organisation with national and regional organisations that nurture the B Corps movement at local level. They develop, engage and rally their communities, their ecosystems and encourage regional B Corps partnerships. 

B Lab Global > B Lab Europe > B Lab Benelux -> The Shift -> BetterBusiness 

As a Belgian company interested in the B Corp movement, you can contact The Shift with any request for information. 

The Shift is Belgium’s sustainable development community. The platform includes a network of different types of organisation, brought together with a common aim: to act together to achieve a more sustainable economy and society. 

Better Benelux works directly with B Lab Benelux and belongs to the The Shift network.

The timing varies from company to company as it depends on the organisation’s complexity, structure and current performance. This is a substantial process, which is not designed to be fast.

Here are the main steps of the standard process that give you a rough idea of the time it takes:

  • Completing the BIA. Depending on the size of your company, the time resources and people you commit to this step, and the availability of your data, this can take from a few days to a few months.
  • Identifying and implementing improvements. If the company has not reached the 80 points required when they fill in the BIA for the first time, it must identify the improvements to be made to reach the desired score, and then implement them. Your basic score, the difficulty of implementing the improvements chosen and your in-house resources will determine the time this step takes. In our experience, this ranges from 2 months to a year.
  •  
  • Submission and checking process. The time taken for this is largely determined by B Lab’s capacities and how prepared you are for the process. Due to the high demand from companies, there is a queuing time of about 9 months to enter the assessment process. Once you have reached the front of the queue and an assessor has been assigned to you, the checking process itself will take between 3 and 6 months.

One company isn’t the same as another and each has a BIA of its own.

So, comparisons are misleading here. 

Currently, Belgian B Corps are posting a score of between 80.3 et 131. If you would like to see the list of Belgian B Corps and their score, get in touch with us!

The highest score recorded worldwide is currently around 180 points!

There is no straight answer to this: every company has its strengths and weaknesses.  

However, we have noticed that the areas most companies should focus on are the following:

  • the environmental impact of their team
  • diversity and inclusion
  • officialisation of good practice
  • defining of quantifiable objectives

B Lab’s fees are:

  1. Submission fee of 250 to 500 euros.
  2. On obtaining the certification, the annual fee depends on the company’s turnover. B Lab also reduces this fee for start-ups.

These costs range from EUR 2,000 per year for a turnover of less than EUR 2,49M and gradually increase afterwards.

The certification costs only cover part of B Lab’s operating costs: 40% of B Lab’s expenses are covered by philanthropy, the rest comes from sources of revenue, including B Corp certification.

Note that large companies have additional costs to pay.

B Lab enables you to compare your score with that of other comparable companies in terms of size (number of employees), sector and country. Companies who have completed a set number of questions, whether or not they are a B Corp, form part of the comparison.

Each reference index is the median of the scores of the companies comparable with yours and who have answered over 75% of the full questionnaire, over 75% of the questions of a pillar or sub-pillar, depending on the benchmark you are analysing.

All B Corps certified companies are required to share their score on their public profile and the scores per pillar (governance, workers, community, environment and customers). 

The B Corp mindset is transparency. B Lab invites us to overcome our somewhat conservative instincts and adopt a constructive attitude towards transparency and what it generates: responsibility and authenticity.

We have the list of Belgian B Corps and their overall score available for you: send us an email.

The B Impact Assessment is a free, confidential online tool for improving your social impact and your environmental impact.  Covering around 200 questions, this assessment is tailored: the questionnaire is adapted to your organisation and your sector. It examines the impact your companies have on your stakeholders (workers, community, environment and customers). It also captures and assesses the good practice you have implemented in relation to your mission and your governance. Today this is best way to understand where your company stands in CSR terms and how to improve its positive impact in the future.

This is also the best way of (re)creating meaning among your team by involving them in the process. Working collaboratively allows you to infuse your team with the values of each member and make it collectively responsible for a “why”.

Your company must be a non-profit and have been in operation for over a year (the BIA uses the data from previous years for the assessment ). 

Your company may operate in any sector, and be of any size. 

B Corps certification is not accessible to ASBLs, NGOs, public bodies or any other entity that is state-controlled.

Having said that, the BIA is a free tool you can take advantage of: it’s a yardstick for measuring and improving your impact. If your company has been in operation for less than 12 months, you can opt for B Corp “pending” status, which allows your company in the start-up phase to send a message to stakeholders that you are on course to obtain the B Corps certification.

The BIA is designed to suit all organisations eligible for certification, whatever their size, their location or their sector of activity.

A major difficulty we have noted is in defining the company’s scope and, thus, determining which questionnaire is the right one.  This is vital. If the wrong questionnaire is chosen, the company will have to start again once they get to the assessment phase. 

The BIA is adapted according to three criteria: 

  1. Size: the BIA is adapted according to the number of FTE staff. 
    The options are: 0, 1-9, 10-49, 50-249, 250-999 and 1000+
  2. Sector: the BIA is adapted according to the products or services the organisation sells. The sector options are: services with a minor environmental footprint, service with a big environmental footprint, retail/wholesale, manufacture and farming/producers
  3. Geography: the BIA is adapted according to whether the majority of the staff are located in a developed or emerging world market.

The track the company is on will determine both the type of questions and its points weighting in the BIA. The assessment is adapted to calibrate the same level of difficulty for each company in accordance with its path. Indeed, large companies tend to have more questions with a lower score value and small companies will have less questions, but with a higher score weighting.

The parent company must accompany you on your B Corp journey as it is involved in changing your company’s articles of association, which requires the approval of your shareholders. 

The guiding principle is that the group as a whole enters into the process: the links between companies make the process more cohesive, as together you have more power to manage your impact and influence society.

Nevertheless, there are several B Corps in the community that are 100% subsidiaries: they have demonstrated that they are different and independent. We often find that they then encourage and help their ecosystems to follow them. 

These questions of scope are decisive: we strongly suggest you confirm your scope. We are here to help, please contact us !

You can access your BIA and adjust whatever answers you wish before submitting them. B Lab will examine your answers once you have submitted your assessment for examination. Your score is not made public until the examination is complete, the certification is finalised and you have approved the content of your public profile.

Please use the BIA as best suits you, without any pressure: compare, try things out, make mistakes, go back…nobody has access to your answers. All you have to do is try it: go to the page, create an account and you are bound to be inspired to create an additional impact in your company.

We would be glad to send you B Lab’s confidentiality policy.

B Corp is widely recognised as the broadest ESG certification and the strongest one currently available. 

There are also many other certifications that examine specific elements of a company’s performance (Fairtrade, ISO, CDP, GRI, etc.). These certifications or standards are generally considered complementary to B Corps, but do not replace it. This is for the various reasons we have alluded to: 

  • Cross-cutting analysis. When you go through the BIA, you will find the questions classified into five areas of impact aimed at stakeholders. Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. This is where B Corp certification really stands out from others as it enables you to study your impact from all angles. 
  • Recognition. We also note that consumers and the “youngest” employees already know all about the B Corp label.
  • Community. The journey doesn’t stop when you obtain your label; quite the opposite, it has just started. B Corps form a very tight community where you will encounter peers who, like you, prefer to share their good practice rather than the sterile “go it alone” approach.
  • Score gaming. Being awarded a score per question is quite a spur and encourages the company to continuously better itself.

Having said that, B Corps don’t have to choose between the B Corp certification and other standards. Some certifications are even recognised and awarded points in various sections of the BIA.

B Lab considers other certifications complementary. If your company already meets other standards, this will probably make things easier for you as it means you have already set up data gathering systems and processes and you know what your tracking indicators are. 

B Lab works constantly with the GRI, for instance. We have a study available comparing the BIA and the GRI.

You do not have to work with an external consultant, but many companies use them to gain expertise and advice. 

B Lab manages a training programme for consultants (called B Leaders), who are sustainable development professionals trained with the tools and expertise required to guide companies along the entire length of the B Corp certification process. 

Working with B Leaders ensures you stay on track with the BIA that corresponds to you, successfully negotiate the difficult parts of the assessment, and correctly choose how to demonstrate your business impact model, should this be required. 

We see a lot of companies start the BIA enthusiastically and determinedly, unfortunately only to falter after a few weeks. This requires implementing fully-fledged project management within the organisation and mastering HR, legal, environmental impact, etc. A professional can save you a lot of time and increase your chances of success.

We have observed several advantages of using a B Leader:

  • You can put in place a project management system that defines a timeline and identifies the resources to be used in-house (whether or not you decide to use a B Leader, allocating the right resources at the right time is definitely an advantage)
  • You can negotiate the BIA with ease and efficiency (define your HR and organisational scope, understand the concepts, avoid biases linked to the vocabulary, etc.)
  • You can mobilise your teams and support them, at their pace, so that they also manage their time and your resources as efficiently as possible.
  • You will get an outside view of your operations and your impact. Sometimes we go round in circles because we are blinkered. Being challenged, hearing about the experiences of other companies in your sector, can be an opportunity to take stock and have a rethink. 

The B Corp Certification should be viewed as the beginning of your company’s journey as a responsible company.

You will have gathered resources for your first certification, compiled your data, measured your impact, set targets. Once you have obtained the certification, we advise you to do two things:

  • Appoint a person in charge in-house or a B Leader 
  • Continuously integrate considerations relating to the five impact areas of the certification

This approach will stand you in good stead in the long run as when it comes to the recertification, your targets and data will have been integrated so that you can easily complete the questionnaire again.

Many B Corps have succeeded in integrating the BIA objective and framework in their organisations so that it becomes a habit rather than something that has to be reviewed every three years.

B Corp is not just a certification, it’s an ongoing framework for ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) and a movement for change. Although becoming a B Corp is a great success in itself, the certification should be viewed as the start of any company’s sustainable development journey.

Certified B Corp companies have a continuous improvement approach, looking for ways to create a positive impact through their expertise and know-how in their sector. This may mean providing support to your suppliers on their own B Corp journeys or encouraging others in your community to use BIA as a tool for improvement. It may mean finding ways for your company to give back to society, opening up access to your products/services to people who cannot afford them, donating time and/or money to a cause that inspires you, creating communication opportunities in order to share your knowledge, etc.

B Lab and those at the origin of the B Corp movement are constantly considering how to go beyond B Corp in order to change economic models on a larger scale. 

B Lab’s mission is to modify the legal framework within which companies operate today. As there has not yet been any guarantor at public level in Belgium, B Lab invites companies that want to join the B Corp movement to amend their articles of association to include, in addition to the objective of serving the interests of shareholders, that of taking all stakeholders (workers, customers, communities and the environment) into account.

This amending of the articles of association, more symbolic than binding, is a very powerful message. We have made the legal modifications to be made to your articles of association available at.

B Lab UK has conducted a survey on the subject and compared SMEs with B Corp SMEs (we have made the full analysis available to you at: info@betterbusiness.be). 

In brief, the results of the survey show that:

  • Between 2017 and 2019, B Corps in the UK recorded an average turnover growth of 24%, compared to an average of 3% for all SMEs.
  • Between 2017 and March 2020, B Corp SMEs saw their annual headcount increase by 8%, compared to 0% for all SMEs.
  • 62% of B Corp SMEs surveyed expect a growth in turnover in the next 12 months, compared to 38% of all SMEs.

B Corp SMEs outperform UK SMEs in terms of employee retention, governance processes, civic and community engagement, innovation and securing external funding.

In Belgium, there are several academic studies that reach a similar conclusion, which we have also made available to you.