Earning the B Corp badge is the antithesis of ‘set and forget’. It’s about showing that you’re *actually* doing the good things you say you’re doing, and throwing your weight behind the power of purpose-driven business.
As part of this movement, businesses commit not only to being held accountable for high social, environmental and governance standards, but they have to ‘verify’ their actions against those standards every three years, or after a Change of Control or Initial Public Offering.
This commitment to continuous improvement is fundamental to the B Corp movement and is part of how we are transforming the global economy to put people, place and communities at the centre. We also do it because ‘impact’ is neither a destination to be reached nor a box to be ticked, but an ongoing commitment to being better and doing better.
Image: Today Design
Both Cube Group and Today Design are B Corps who have recently gone through the recertification process. Having reaffirmed their commitment to purpose and stakeholder governance, and a desire to ramp up efforts in the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) space, let’s hear from these two Bs on how to approach the process of getting certified, again.
Promises made are promises kept at Cube Group
As a business management consultancy that chooses to work exclusively with ‘public value clients’, the team at Cube Group saw B Corp Certification as being very much aligned with how they were already working. As such, making the decision to certify, and committing to work only with organisations that see value as something to be shared by all stakeholders, is a central part of who they are, and what makes them different — but also a key driver behind seeking certification in the first place.
“Our energies, talents, and insights are entirely immersed in helping our clients make a positive difference for the communities and industries they serve. We want to continue helping our clients do that, and we want to keep doing it ourselves, by making considered, ethical, and sustainable business decisions. That was the reason we certified, and recertified, as a B Corp.”— Cube Group
Originally certified in 2017, Cube Group was the 165th business to join the movement in our region, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Seeing certification as “like an accountability partnership,” they became a B Corp to certify their genuine commitment to positive social impact under a badge that also serves as a constant reminder that promises made are promises kept.
Proof that doing good is good for business, Cube Group shares that B Corp Certification has been a way to help them achieve their goals internally, by strengthening their culture and crystallising decision making. But it has also been an important external signal to the market about what they do (and don’t) stand for.
“We have implemented progressive practices to support our people through flexible work practices, gender neutral and subsidised parental leave, access to development opportunities and we demonstrate our commitment to wellbeing through providing additional leave.
We are constantly assessing and improving our employee offering and we were recently named one of Australia’s ‘Best Places to Work’ by the Australian Financial Review’s Boss Magazine, ranked #5 in the professional services category from over 750 nominated organisations.”— Cube Group
Image: Cube Group
Show, don’t just tell, how you care about more than the bottom line
Being a B Corp is about doing business in a way that cares about far more than just the bottom line. It is about voluntarily inviting greater accountability, transparency and scrutiny, in order to lead the change that is needed. And as significant a milestone as it is to become certified, it’s about not resting on your laurels once you’ve achieved it.
Leading up to their first recertification, Cube Group’s goal was to “do more of the same, but better.” And they set about improving policies and procedures with a strong focus on stakeholder governance and JEDI principles.
Image: Cube Group
From improving leave and flexible work policies to finalising their first Reconciliation Action Plan (Reflect), Cube Group shared with us several examples of commitments they’ve made on the path to continuous improvement. Since certifying as a B Corp the first time round, they have also:
- Undertaken document accessibility checks across the organisation
- Created internal processes to eliminate unconscious bias in hiring and remuneration
- Implemented the use of pronouns in email signatures to foster a safer psychological space for employees and clients to collaborate
- Participated in Aboriginal Cultural Competency Training, and are in the process of developing an increasingly nuanced approach to creating justice for First Nations people with business as a vehicle
- Developed an industry-leading Parental Leave Policy that does not discriminate based on seniority, tenure or gender
In recognition of their work in this area, they also contributed to an event in early 2023 on Best Practice Parental Leave, sharing that:
“Our policies in this area have been celebrated as proof that even small businesses can make meaningful changes that positively impact employees and communities.
“And our team regularly participates in Inclusive Leadership workshops facilitated by experts, which helps us to better understand the barriers to inclusion in our business and industry, and aims to identify and develop actions and strategies that help us overcome them.”— Cube Group
Impact improvement is a marathon, not a sprint
Asked if they had any tips for B Corps about the recertification process or impact improvement more broadly, the Cube Group team shared:
“Impact improvement only happens consistently if it’s a goal that’s embedded into business culture. The certification process requires businesses to consider their choices carefully and continuously, which necessitates buy-in from the highest levels.”— Cube Group
Suggesting that establishing a B Corp ‘working group,’ of sorts, can be a great way to “assess where your business is and work toward incremental progress”, their main takeaway is that your commitment to impact improvement won’t be effective without leadership buy-in. And sometimes it’s just as simple, and as complicated, as that.
Image: Cube Group
Rising tide lifts all business boats
While each and every B Corp has their own story to tell about certification and their own journey to recertification, there are certainly many commonalities. As you’ve heard — ‘get leadership buy-in’ is usually top of the list. So is: plan your journey, ask for help, assemble a team, and write it all down — among several other tips from B Corps who want to help you do the mahi and share the aroha.
But something that not a lot of businesses share, particularly publicly, is how it feels when you don’t get the score on the B Impact Assessment that you thought you might. However, Today Design is not every business; they are a strategic design organisation dedicated to living its commitment to radical transparency out loud.
“Our goal for recertification was wanting to lift the tide overall. For a combination of reasons, our last assessment was a bit disappointing for us. It was a lower score; we didn’t feel like it reflected where we were at.”— Today Design
While performing well in all areas of the BIA mattered to their team, they felt that their scores across the governance, environment, and workers impact areas, in particular, did not reflect their good intentions. Making space for the discomfort, the team then embarked upon a significant impact improvement process designed to better reflect the positive impact they knew they could have in their policy and practices.
“In between assessments, we became certified as carbon neutral through Climate Active. This means more rigour and measurement around our environmental footprint, which helped our B Corp assessment. We also updated the company constitution to include the B Corp amendment, which boosted Mission Lock.”— Today Design
From being one of the first B Corps in our region to become certified in 2014 with a score 82.7, to now achieving a score of over 120 points, fourth time round, Today Design is testament to the B Corp philosophy of taking imperfect action, and taking it often.
Image: Today Design
While the B Corp scoring system is set to undergo significant change as B Lab continues to evolve the movement’s high standards, right now, the B Impact Score is one way to contextualise and standardise the impact a company is currently having across each of our five impact areas.
Smoothing out the edges of the recertification process
Our Certification team is well-known for saying that: “time flies when you’re creating positive change!” And just like your business, B Corp Certification requirements develop and evolve over time. They are strengthened as societal expectations evolve and as we, as a global community, gain a better understanding of how business can be used as a force for good. This is just one of the reasons that B Lab requires businesses to recertify every three years.
While this was not their first recertification rodeo, the Today Design team was even more determined than usual for this latest verification process to go as smoothly as possible.
“We participated in an intensive one-day certification process whereby a member of the B Lab team came out and effectively audited our responses on the spot. We loved this process.”— Today Design
This intensive approach is part of a pilot by B Lab designed to streamline the verification process. Being able to ask and address any questions, and clear up any responses, in this way, gave the Today Design team confidence and clarity to progress through the recertification process.
“Through this conversation, we figured out we’d used a less-optimal model for our Customers section. So changing that meant our impact was much more straightforward to quantify, which boosted our score.”
Taking the chance to plot a path for even greater improvement going forward, Today Design shared that they are more inspired than ever to improve company governance, and accelerate positive impact on workers, the community, and the environment.
“Better impact tracking and measurement with our customers is a huge opportunity but a gnarly one for us, considering how diverse our work is. But we’re working on this with renewed focus; stay tuned.”— Today Design
Image: Today Design
And stay tuned we will. As B Lab, it is our job (and our privilege) to walk the path of positive impact beside members of the B Corp and aspiring B Corp communities. Recertification is no exception.
As always, we are always grateful to businesses like Cube Group and Today Design for their ongoing transparency, openness and honesty about the certification (and recertification) processes. And we are continually drawing on these insights to update our comprehensive Guide to B Corp Recertification, so that we may help businesses better navigate the path to systems change.
If your business has any questions about certifying (or recertifying) as a B Corp, please email: email@example.com and our dedicated team will be there to help.