15 Feb 2024

Navigating the Future of B Corp: Unpacking the Evolution of Standards

By Amy Bourbeau
B Corp Standards

Today, the B Corp community is made up of over 8000+ B Corps Globally, across 161 Industries and 95 countries, with 1 unifying vision: an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet.

However, as the community grows and evolves, so too must the standards for certification in order to continue to ensure that B Corp remains a meaningful standard that sets businesses who are leading the way in social and environmental performance apart, inspiring others to follow suit.

The Evolution of the Standards for B Corp Certification

B Lab’s standards are at the heart of the B Corp movement, and while ongoing additions and improvements have been made since the beginning of the B Corp movement in 2006, the core aspects and structure have remained relatively constant.

In December 2020, B Lab announced a review of its current standards and the rigorous, multi-year process that would follow. The first draft of the Evolution of Standards was released in September 2022, followed by a preliminary consultation involving extensive global stakeholder input and engagement.

In January 2024, the next draft of the new standards was released, marking the start of the second consultation period of the evolution of the standards for B Corp certification, which will run until March 26th.


What is the aim of the new standards?

The proposed new standards reflect the evolving landscape of environmental and social progress, and the growing expectations of businesses, consumers and investors to make a positive impact. The B Corp certification aims to effectively differentiate leading businesses, and these changes ensure B Corps remain at the forefront of sustainability.

The new standards are intended to:

  • Improve impactfulness, ensuring B Corp certification drives companies to achieve strong performance in the most necessary areas of social and environmental impact
  • Improve clarity of the certification requirements and what it means to be a certified B Corp
  • Take on board the feedback and guidance of the B Corp community and related stakeholders

5 key changes to know

Whilst the new standards are still in development and yet to be set in stone, there are a number of proposed changes that highlight the direction that B Lab is looking to take the movement in:

1. New structure – the certification will be divided into Foundation Requirements and Performance Requirements. Companies will first be evaluated against Foundation Requirements to assess their eligibility, complete legal requirements and undergo an assessment of their business model. Once successfully completing this stage, companies will be assessed on their Performance Requirements.

2. Minimum performance requirements historically, there has been no performance requirements other than achieving a total of 80 points, meaning a certifying company could be strong in some measured areas but weak in others. The new standards will instead mandate a set of minimum performance requirements across each impact area, which will be outlined in a company’s Performance Requirements. For example, a minimum requirement within the impact topic area ‘Workplace Culture’ is that ‘the company measures workplace culture annually’. The rigour and specific minimum requirements within each impact topic will be tailored to a company’s size, sector and geography of operation.

3. New impact topics – the current five ‘impact areas’ within the B Impact Assessment – governance, workers, community, environment and customers – will evolve into eight new ‘impact topics’ and relevant ‘complementary topics’. The proposed impact topics and their purpose are disclosed by B Lab as follows:

  • Purpose & Stakeholder Governance: B Corps act in accordance with a defined purpose, contributing to an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet. 
  • Workplace Culture: B Corps have positive workplace cultures with meaningful worker dialogue.
  • Fair Wages: Workers can afford a decent standard of living for themselves and their families, and there is wage equality among the workforce.
  • Justice Equity Diversity & Inclusion: B Corps have inclusive and diverse work environments and contribute meaningfully to just and equitable communities.
  • Human Rights: B Corps treat people with dignity and respect their human rights.
  • Climate Action: B Corps take action in accordance with science to combat climate change and its impacts.
  • Environmental Stewardship and Circularity: B Corps demonstrate environmental stewardship and contribute to the circular economy in their operations and value chain, minimising any negative impact and pursuing positive impact.
  • Government Affairs and Collective Action: B Corps play a leadership role in fostering shared understanding, solutions, and implementation towards an equitable, inclusive, and regenerative economy, including contribution to the public infrastructure they utilise and rely upon for their success.
  • Complementary Impact Topics: B Corps comprehensively identify and measure a wider set of impacts of their business, in addition to the core impact topics, and improve upon them over time.

4. Ongoing improvement as a key requirementAt present, a certified B Corp may maintain or even reduce their current performance, but maintain certification as long as they stay above the 80 point threshold. Under the proposed evolution of the standards, companies must clearly evidence ongoing improvement in their performance at recertification, demonstrating ongoing compliance, and share progress on impact topic-specific plans and goals.

5. No company will certify or recertify on the new standards until 2025 – B Lab wants to ensure the community have the time to make the appropriate changes, and the finalised new standards will be rolled out in a phased manner, beginning in 2025.

What do these changes mean for your business?

Whether you are a certified B Corp, or on the path to become one, B Lab has specified that there will be plenty of time for businesses to transition from the current to the new standards when they are finalised. The standards will be rolled out in a phased approach and B Lab have confirmed no company will certify or recertify on the new standards before 2025.

Here are our top tips on how to embrace the new standards: 

  • An opportunity for growth – Embrace the evolution of the standards as an opportunity for your business and its impact to grow. As businesses continue to navigate the increasingly complex and interconnected world, embracing the updated B Corp standards should not just be seen as a requirement for continued certification; but a powerful strategic move for the future of your business as a whole. 
  • Be ahead of the game – The standards are there to challenge businesses, and no matter how big or small your business, it will take time and strategic thought to implement changes to enable you to meet these minimum requirements. By becoming aware of the changes, you can now plan to meet these in a phased proactive manner rather than a reactive one and become leaders in your industry.
  • Have your say – B Lab is seeking the input of their stakeholders, including certified B Corps and the wider business community, in the evolution of the standards. Get involved in the collective movement, and second consultation to give your unique business and industry perspective. Help shape the future of the B Corp movement by reviewing B Labs latest draft of the new standards and completing the accompanying feedback survey.

No matter what stage you are at on your certification journey, we encourage you to get up to speed on what lies ahead for the new standards, and familiarise yourself with the changes and how they may affect your business.

Get one step ahead

Seismic is home to Europe’s largest and most experienced team of B Corp specialists. Whilst 52% of businesses do not certify on their first attempt, 100% of the clients we have helped throughout their B Corp journey have. As your ongoing partner for change, we leverage B Corp beyond certification, as a credible tool to build your sustainability strategy.

To be prepared for the transition into the new standards, our B Corp experts can advise you on how to prepare for the new requirements and what they may mean for your business. Get in touch.