B Corp : as cool as it is demanding ?

5 minutes of reading

How about that capital B found on more and more products?

B Corp keeps on seducing French companies; the label imported from the United States has become the indispensable reference for committed companies.

B Corp has succeeded in being a demanding, yet pragmatic and desirable reference.

Elisabeth Laville, founder of Utopies, the first French company to be certified by B Corp, and a member of the 1.618 expert committee.

B Corp, for Benefit Corporation, was born in Philadelphia in 2006. The idea came from three entrepreneurial friends, Bart Houlahan, Jay Coen Gilbert and Andrew Kassoy, and the premise is simple: the obsession is not to be the best company IN the world, but the best company FOR the world. The intention is to rethink the notion of success in business, to put the performance of companies at the service of the general interest, and thus to move towards a more inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy.

The label therefore aims to certify private companies that integrate social, societal and environmental objectives into their mission, business model, workforce, products or services. The certified companies meet demanding criteria in terms of responsibility and transparency and have a positive impact on their entire ecosystem.

One of the first companies to receive B Corp certification was the Californian brand Patagonia, which received the label in 2011. Since then, it remains one of the most successful companies in the movement. Patagonia has never been about cool, but by focusing on performance, innovation and authenticity for more than 40 years, it is considered a model of eco-design to follow.

We can’t control whether or not our brand is deemed cool or uncool, and we really don’t care, that’s exactly what makes Patagonia a label on fire.

Chloé is the first luxury fashion house to join the list of B Corp certified companies in 2021. Less than a year after Gabriela Hearst became creative director of the House – proof of its positive ethical and environmental impact, Chloé is now focusing on sustainability.

B Corp offers us a powerful framework to accelerate and guide this transformation… By becoming B Corp today, we reinforce our commitment to continuously challenge ourselves to use our brand and our business as a force for good.

Riccardo Bellini, CEO of Chloé.
RTW Spring 2022 – Gabrielle Hearst’s first collection for Chloé, and using recycled materials

But how do you qualify for the precious certification?

A first impact measurement tool – the “Business Impact Assessment” or “BIA” – is made available free of charge by B Corp. It takes the form of an online questionnaire and is organized around five major pillars:

  • Governance: considering the company’s internal policy, business model, transparency, mission and commitment
  • People: assessing the company’s contribution to employee well-being, inclusiveness and equality
  • The community: analyze the company’s contribution to the social and economic well-being of its community and the local population
  • The environment: analyze whether the company is minimizing its impact on the planet (taking into account its production, energy and water management and consumption, or the protection of biodiversity)
  • Customers: to observe the impact and value generated through ethical and positive marketing, the quality of products and services, data confidentiality and consideration of customer satisfaction

This process has the advantage of being adaptable to the sector and size of the company. Once the answers to the 200 questions have been completed, the company obtains a score – more than 80 points, and it can submit its application. This concrete and playful first step is above all an excellent self-diagnosis tool.

💡 Nearly 200,000 companies worldwide have attempted to calculate their impact through the BIA. The average score is no more than 55 points.

It is then necessary to comply with a verification audit by B Lab, the non-governmental organization behind the label, which agrees or not to issue a label, valid for three years. Depending on its turnover, a company will have to pay between €50 and €25,000. Every three years, companies are reassessed and this is the spirit of the label: to be a tool for continuous improvement since obtaining B Corp certification is only the beginning of the process – to keep it, you have to progress.

ROI from a long and tedious process:

B Corp certification, more desirable than other labels perceived as too austere, such as ISO, also allows companies to benefit from tangible advantages:

  • Firstly, it allows them to initiate a CSR approach and to offer themselves a more sincere and impactful brand image, as the capital B, which is becoming more and more well-known, is a guarantee of sincerity and ethics in the eyes of consumers.
  • Also, having an objective that makes sense for the company, i.e. having a positive impact on society, while being economically viable, mobilises the teams and develops a global internal dynamic, as much as it attracts young employees whose main concerns are now climate change and social inequalities.
  • B Corp is also international and, by developing a network of leaders working for good, the certification represents an asset for companies wishing to expand beyond their borders.
  • Last but not least, the label helps attract customers, suppliers and investors who favor ethical and responsible companies.

Spotlight on the actors of this movement & members of the 1.618 community: Ecoalf and Beauty Disrupted

In 2018, Ecoalf is the first fashion brand in Spain to receive the B Corp certification. Obtaining this label means that the company meets the highest social and environmental standards.

Ecoalf is also one of the top 5% of 5,000 B Corps companies worldwide in the environmental category. Javier Goyeneche, founder of Ecoalf, is committed to a profit/objective balance and to putting the planet at the forefront of his business strategy to leave a positive environmental impact.

Recently, Beauty Disrupted also obtained the precious certification. Conscious beauty for all genders, designed in Stockholm and manufactured in the south of France, all products contain a demanding and exemplary selection of the finest ingredients and a 100% organic fragrance. The French and Swedish founders are obsessed with finding better and cleaner ways to create beauty products that are good for both people and the planet. The products are PETA-certified vegan and plastic-free; Beauty Disrupted donates 20% of its profits to organizations that protect the planet and fight climate change.

It is these “non-negotiable” commitments that have enabled them to select investors, customers and suppliers in the right way. And before the company was officially created, they submitted their B Corp questionnaire in order to obtain the certification; being at the beginning of the adventure, this gave the company a real guideline allowing it to make the right decisions directly. In April 2022, Beauty Disrupted became part of a community of committed actors.

This allows us to exchange with each other in order to find potential synergies and above all solutions. We no longer have the luxury of waiting to act.

Alban Mayne, co-founder of Beauty Disrupted.

Find these brands and the visionaries behind their stories in the 1.618 Guide, as well as Beauty Disrupted products on the 1.618 Eshop!

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