Founded in 2006 by the non-profit organisation B Lab, the B Corp Certification marks companies that are leading the way: companies that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
B Lab’s global vision is to create an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet. In a nutshell, the mission is to “Make Business a Force for Good”.
There are approximately 7,000 companies certified by B Corp worldwide. In 2022, the European B Corp community grew by 63%, surpassing 1,000 B Corps. The ones in The Netherlands and Belgium were among the first to join the movement and right now there are over 300 B Corps in the Benelux area.
At Nexio Projects, we strive to be a "Force for Good” and we are proud to be part of this community of purpose-driven organisations since 2019. We also advise organisations to join the movement. Our team of experts in Sustainability Ratings & Certifcations already helped companies of various sizes to successfully complete their certification process and to use this certification as an opportunity to transform their business for good.
B Corp certification is a journey. And any B Corp has to be recertified every 3 years.
2023 was the time for us to complete the re-certification process, and we received an adjusted score of 117.9 as Nexio Projects. This equals to a 39% score increase compared to what we achieved in 2019 (84.9).
In this article, we want to seize this opportunity to share with you the key things we’ve learned and suggest best practices to increase your score.
The Five Steps of the Recertification Process
The B Corp recertification process follows the same five steps your organisation goes through during the initial certification. Specifically:
- Preliminary Score
- Verification Queue
- Verification Stage
- Adjusted Score
Step 1: Questionnaire
First, a comprehensive, standardised questionnaire is issued. This questionnaire is designed to assess the company’s performance in 5 areas of sustainability:
The questionnaire contains both compulsory and optional questions. There is an option to upload documents at this stage, but it is not a requirement.
Step 2: Preliminary Score
After answering the questionnaire, the company receives a preliminary score. This score provides a rough idea of what the final score will be.
The minimum score that needs to be achieved to successfully re-certify as a B Corp is 80 out of 200. Knowing that most companies lose points during the analysis phase, it is recommended to enter the recertification with a minimum preliminary score of 90-100.
Step 3: Verification Queue
Companies enter the verification queue, to await feedback from B Lab. This can take up to six months, or in some cases even longer.
Step 4: Verification Stage
At this stage, B Lab analysts review answers provided in the questionnaire. For some questions, companies will be asked to deliver proof of their claims.
For example, companies could be asked to prove that employees are paid above living wage, or that they have thorough environmental management systems and waste policies in place.
Additionally, approximately 10% of recertifying B Corps are selected every year for an on-site visit as part of the verification stage. The selection is mostly done randomly; however, some companies are chosen based on factors such as:
- Ownership structure;
- Industry & sector.
Step 5: Adjusted Score
Once all the requested information has been provided, the company will receive an adjusted B Corp score. This marks the end of the recertification process.
The Three Key Success Factors to Achieve a High Score
Below are the main factors we feel allowed us to achieve our high score.
We were organised and prepared
Being organised and prepared was particularly important for us. As quite a young and fast-growing company, our processes and circumstances are changing all the time.
In the timespan running between the initial questionnaire and the verification stage, many things already changed. Therefore, keeping track of everything and making sure that all the information we provided was accurate was absolutely imperative.
For larger, more established companies, it’s likely that much of the initial information they provide would still be valid come the verification stage. Regardless, organisation and preparation can help you navigate the process smoothly. Here are the main things we did to stay organised:
- We gathered all documentation and proof as we were filling out the questionnaire. We knew exactly which records we would need to verify each question.
- We carefully listed and categorised the documents into organised folders, so they were easy to find.
- We created an Excel spreadsheet with all the questions we answered and the scores we expected. This helped us identify our biggest improvement areas and determine concrete actions.
We were transparent
Sometimes companies are tempted to fill out answers for questions they cannot provide proof for. This can create a very tiresome process for the B Corp analysts during the verification stage. The analysts will quickly lose faith in a company that cannot provide proof for several claims. It always makes sense to be as honest and transparent as possible.
That is what we did: avoiding claims we couldn’t back up.
Our whole company was engaged and motivated
For a successful recertification, your whole company should be engaged and committed to the process. This will prevent questions to be answered with a one-person-only point of view.
We involved people from all departments and levels of our organisation, achieving more accurate and comprehensive answers to the questionnaire.
Certification isn't our goal, doing the right thing is.
Ultimately, we achieved a high score on our B Corp recertification because we genuinely want to be the best company we can be. As we strive to “Make (our) Business a Force For Good”, just one of the tools and frameworks we use to inspire the way we take responsibility as a company.
Upon completion of the recertification process, a comprehensive report is provided to highlight low-scoring areas. In general, we find that external assessments help to learn and improve. And that is the most important aspect of this process.
Obtaining the B Corp certification, or any certification, is a significant step in the right direction. But the most important thing for any company recertifying as a B Corp is to use the assessment to guide their strategy.
To conclude, it is possible to summarise the key tips to successfully complete the B Corp recertification as follows:
- Be ethical: Be transparent and provide accurate information that can be verified with thorough documentation.
- Be organised: From clear documentation labelling to spreadsheets to keep track of the whole recertification process can be practical examples to help you streamline the process
- Collaborate: Company-wide involvement will enhance the quality and efficiency of the recertification process. Collaboration and commitment are crucial both vertically and horizontally.
Want to join the B Corp community? Want to successfully pass your recertification? Get in touch.