Let’s say you wanted to buy an organic avocado, because you wanted to try some of that yummy avocado toast that Millennials are all up in arms about. How do you make sure the avocado is actually organic? You look for the USDA Organic logo.
Now let’s say you wanted to eat your magic organic Millennial avocado toast at a nice wooden table. Maybe it tastes better if the table is made from sustainably harvested wood. Maybe it doesn’t. Who knows? To find out, you should look for a Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative logo.
Now maybe your rainbows and unicorns magic organic Millennial avocado toast will be a life changing experience so long as you eat it at a sustainably harvested wooden table inside of a high-performing environmental building. How do we know if a building is environmentally friendly? You look for a LEED, Earthcraft, or other green building logo on the wall.
Ah, the power of certifications. None of us has the time to research every last aspect of all of the products in our lives, so certifications let us be reasonably conscious consumers despite our time crunch. Some certifications are more rigorous than others, and we can often feel overwhelmed by how many there are, but I would still call their existence a good thing.
Most certifications are for a thing – like produce, lumber or a building. A few are organizational certifications, as is the case for B Corps. Two well-known examples are Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and New Belgium Brewing. The B Corp certification is not saying that the ice cream or beer is certified, but rather that the organization making them is.
Certified for what though? This is where we pick things back up from last week. The benefit corporation status I discussed in my last blog is a legal structure that permits organizations to balance profit with positive social and environmental impacts. B Corp certification tells you that a company is actually doing that.
The certification is run by an organization called B Lab, which is a nonprofit that, according to its website, “serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good.” I love it. I often say that Ray Anderson and Interface are one of the best examples that business, when done right, can be a force for good in the world.
Remarkably, certified B Corps now number 2,600 from 60 different countries. I recognize a lot of the listed companies, but I haven’t heard of a majority of them. To me, that shows that they have truly tapped into a global movement, not just something that resonates here in the United States. Here is the list of companies if you want to browse.
I think this is a trend that will only accelerate, to the benefit of us all. It’s generally good that businesses seek to be profitable. It’s better when they are committed at a fundamental level to the triple-bottom line. When you see the B Corp logo, you know you can be pretty dang confident that the company is committed.