Is your company up for B Corp recertification soon? Here are our top tips for certified B Corps preparing for recertification.
There may be a lot of information on becoming a B Corp and how to make the transition to a sustainable purpose-driven business, but what about the challenges recertifying companies face? If your company is preparing for recertification and is about to go down the B Impact Assessment (BIA) roadmap again, here are our tips and tricks to help you succeed on your sustainability journey.
B Corps are required to recertify every three years to maintain their certified B Corp status. Currently there are over 4,500 B Corps in 75+ countries. Since B Lab UK’s inception in 2015, more than 600 UK businesses have become certified B Corps, so you’re in good company when facing the challenge of how to embed B Corp into your business and prepare for recertification.
The B Corp Recertification Process requires a company to:
- Verify the legal requirement has been met.
- Update the answers in your BIA to reflect your current metrics and performance, ensuring you still are meeting or exceeding the 80 point threshold.
- Submit the B Impact Assessment for review by your recertification date.
- Next steps for recertification. Once you or your team has uploaded supporting documentation, the Standards Review Team will send you guidance about what next steps will be. This will include providing documentation to support your answers, in a similar way as when you initially certified.
Once you’ve submitted the BIA, the Standards Review Team will review your assessment and request any additional documentation. According to B Lab, “this process typically takes several months after the assessment has been submitted.“
1. Start early – don’t wait until the last minute
Don’t let recertifying become a last minute rush to the finish line. Note your recertification date in your diary and work backwards from there, being sure to leave plenty of time for B Lab to review your assessment.
“Have recertification on your radar at least one year before your recertification date.”
Some companies forget to look at the BIA for the three years between the time they first certify and when they’re due to recertify. Don’t make this mistake! B Lab updates the BIA around every three years, so the questions have probably changed since you last certified. Chances are, your business has changed and adapted in the last few years, too. Changes in the products or service you sell and the facilities you operate from (or maybe lack thereof, in an increasingly virtual world) affect the BIA, too. This will undoubtedly impact your score, so give yourself plenty of time to work through it.
Ideally, you should start putting processes in place to keep track of recertification from the moment you achieve B Corp certification. This will vary depending on your company size, but some examples include establishing an internal recertification lead or setting up a B Corp team. Ideally, we recommend updating your BIA on an annual basis to track your performance. If you haven’t been able to do this so far (hey, it’s been a hectic couple of years) we at least advise that you have recertification on your radar at least one year before your certification status expires.
2. Set yourself a goal and get your ducks in a row by creating a timeline
First of all, decide what your goal is. Do you want to be the first company to achieve 200 points? Increase your previous score by 10%? Or maybe you’re happy to just stay above 80 points. It’s up to you, but having this vision in mind helps to understand how you can prepare for success. It’s always good to be prepared – creating a timeline will keep you on top of the whole process, giving your team smaller internal deadlines to achieve before the final submission for recertification. The timeline will also provide clarity on the process and help to keep track of all the moving components that recertification requires.
Your timeline should include the BIA areas and questions that need to be updated, fiscal year updates and an improvement plan for the areas that need work.
When planning your timeline, bear in mind that there is a queue for the review process, and this should be taken into consideration when setting milestones. Make sure you are aware of this period by checking the Timeline Overview from B Lab for the latest estimates.
You can view which stage you are in at any time by logging into the BIA platform and visiting the ‘Reviews’ page.
3. Keep track of company changes
Being aware of the impact of big, organisational changes is important when recertifying. Adding new suppliers, opening new offices, increasing or decreasing employee numbers, changing governance structure or ownership – all of these will affect the recertification process.
Many of the BIA questions are thresholds (i.e. they open up further questions and scores), which means if a small change occurs this can have a big impact on your score.
Get on the right BIA track from the outset! The BIA questions and their weighting are tailored to companies based on their size and sector.
How you answer these questions at the beginning of the BIA will determine what ‘track’ you are on. So it’s important to get it right from the outset.
Learn more about choosing your B Impact Assessment track.
We have worked with a number of companies, such as innocent and Pukka on their recertification journey. Seismic knows exactly what the questions and thresholds are, so we can quickly identify if and why your score might have changed. Need someone to track your change? Grown a lot? Gone international? We’re here to be your sustainability partner to accurately reflect your organisation’s progress and journey through the BIA.
Client Spotlight: Innocent Drinks
“It has taken us about 4 years to take our score from 92 points to 105. A 13 point increase might seem small but for those who know the BIA process you have to put in a huge amount of work for every 0.1 point! A big shout out to all the B Keepers across the business who made sure we stayed on track and also to the legends at Seismic for helping us navigate on the journey.”
– Simon Reid, Head of Sustainability at Innocent Drinks
We’ve been so proud to support Innocent from the very start of their B Corp journey. Their improved BIA score is testament to their hard work and ongoing efforts to be a better business. They are a standout example of B Corp best practice, using the B Corp framework to improve impact and embed B Corp into your organisation.
4. Familiarise yourself with B Lab’s BIA version updates
The BIA is updated approximately every three years in order to accommodate new and innovative business practices, respond to feedback and assess businesses impact more accurately.
With each new update, B Lab aims to improve the existing assessment and its measure of impact, so you won’t have to worry about drastic new changes. That said, you can’t expect to earn the same score during recertification. Often companies will drop a few points, so don’t let it catch you off guard!
Having a sustainability partner can increase your confidence and reduce risk before and throughout the recertification process.
5. Don’t underestimate the process
Becoming a B Corp is a huge achievement for any company. To ensure the credibility and authenticity of the B Corp certification B Lab purposefully keeps the assessment challenging. Don’t underestimate the recertification process – it will be as rigorous as it was the first time around and possibly more complex depending on how your company has grown.
We advise companies to view the B Corp framework as a continuous improvement process, rather than a checkbox list. Embedding purpose into your company’s culture and making sure each team keeps track of its impact metrics will help your company to stay on top of the process.
Our client Lily’s Kitchen, one of the UK’s Founding B Corps, embodies this – they have successfully recertified multiple times and continuously work to improve their sustainable practices and initiatives.
It is important to plan for the resources you’ll need to submit your application for recertification. As before, you will need to go through the BIA, engage all stakeholders and create an improvement plan if your score drops below 80 points.
Client Spotlight: Lily’s Kitchen on their B Corp Recertification
“This achievement is another key milestone in our journey and wouldn’t have been possible without the combined efforts of everyone across the business, as well as the support from our friends at Seismic who guided us through our impact assessment.”
Lily’s Kitchen fly the flag for B Corp values and are an inspirational member of the community. They first certified in 2015; since then, they have successfully recertified two more times, increasing their score from 86.9 to 92.3 over the years.
6. Take advantage of recertification to engage your team, consider your company’s purpose and your goals for the future
The B Corp recertification process is a great opportunity to reassess your company and its sustainability journey. We love the B Corp framework because it encourages organisations to continuously reevaluate their progress and improve. Recertification is an opportunity to engage with the whole team; for those who are new and weren’t there during the last B Corp certification, it could also be an opportunity to engage them with your social and environmental goals. Asking for this feedback and additional input can help your company reach new potential and be an ever more impactful force for good. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate what you’ve achieved, reflect on your progress and hold yourself to account.
These are our six top tips to help you make the most of the B Corp Recertification Process. B Lab also provides a detailed overview on the Recertification Process Steps and a great resource of B Corp Recertification FAQs.
Get in touch if you are ready to focus on your recertification journey, we’re here to offer a helping hand and be your sustainability partner. Our wonderful team of B Corp experts are happy to answer any questions!