The three pillars of B Corp Certification make it unique, material, and credible. This is your complete guide to the requirements to become a Certified B Corp.
Meet the Requirements
Completing the B Impact Assessment
To fulfill the performance requirement for B Corp Certification, a company must complete the B Impact Assessment. The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is a free, confidential platform designed to help measure and manage your company's positive impact on your workers, community, customers and environment. The BIA assesses the impact of both your company’s day-to-day operations and your business model—both what you do and how you do it. Your responses to the B Impact Assessment determine your total numeric score. B Corp Certification requires a minimum verified total score of 80 across all impact areas.
The questions on your company’s B Impact Assessment are determined by company size, sector, and market, with around 200 questions total. The time it takes to complete the assessment will vary based on your company's size and complexity. The content of the B Impact Assessment is overseen by B Lab’s independent Standards Advisory Council.
Best practice guides, goal-setting features, and improvement reports allow any company to use the BIA to create a roadmap for improved performance year-over-year or quarter-by-quarter.
Because the B Impact Assessment measures performance over the past twelve months, only companies that have at least one year of operations are eligible for B Corp Certification. Companies under one year are eligible for Pending B Corp Status.
The Disclosure Questionnaire is the final series of questions your company will answer in the B Impact Assessment.
While the B Corp Certification is primarily based on assessing a business's positive impact, material negative impacts are also considered through the Disclosure Questionnaire, background checks, and a public complaint process. The Disclosure Questionnaire allows the company to confidentially disclose to B Lab any sensitive practices, fines, and sanctions related to the company or its partners. Responses to the Disclosure Questionnaire do not affect a company’s numerical score on the B Impact Assessment.
Typically, the majority of these responses are minor in nature and therefore no further action is needed. However, if B Lab identifies one or more items in the Disclosure Questionnaire or in a background check of a company and its senior management to be material, it may merit further transparency, and the company will be notified to provide incremental disclosure their B Impact Report on www.bcorporation.net. In certain cases, the company will be required to implement specific remedies to obtain or maintain the Certification, and in rare cases the company's Certification will be denied or revoked.
Acceptance into and continued participation in the B Corp community is at the sole discretion of the Standards Advisory Council and B Lab's Board of Directors.
Meeting the Legal Requirement
Certified B Corporations are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on all their stakeholders as part of the terms of their Certification. The B Corp legal framework helps companies protect mission through capital raises and leadership changes and gives entrepreneurs and directors more flexibility when evaluating potential sale and liquidity options.
The legal requirement:
- Gives legal protection to directors and officers to consider the interests of all stakeholders, not just shareholders, when making decisions;
- Creates additional rights for shareholders to hold directors and officers accountable to consider these interests; and
- Limits these expanded rights to shareholders exclusively.
Currently, the Benefit Company legislation doesn't exist in Australia or New Zealand yet. B Lab has designed and is currently advocating for an ‘opt-in’ legal form, which we want the Australian Government to adopt in to recognise and enable purpose driven companies in Australian law. When passed by the Australian Government, it will involve a minor amendment to the current Australian Corporations Act 2001 to recognise and enable purpose-driven businesses to scale and prosper.
In order to certify, companies also sign their B Corp Agreement, which commits them to meeting the legal requirement. However, in acknowledgement of the fact that changing corporate structure or articles takes time, B Lab allows a grace period for companies to complete the legal requirement after Certification is complete, the length of which varies depending on structure and location.
The legal requirement can be fulfilled through a variety of structures, from LLCs and traditional corporations to benefit corporations and cooperatives. To learn the legal requirement and B Corp Agreement for your company’s particular structure and location, use our Legal Requirement Tool.
Verification and Transparency
After completing the B Impact Assessment, companies undergo a multi-step verification process to determine if they meet the 80-point bar for Certification. Companies also must meet certain transparency requirements to become Certified B Corps, as laid out in the B Corp Agreement.
Score Verification, Documentation & Assessment Review
Submit the B Impact Assessment
After completing the B Impact Assessment and Disclosure Questionnaire, hit Submit to request an Assessment Review.
Schedule an Assessment Review and Submit Initial Documentation
A B Lab Standards Analyst will reach out to schedule a time to review the B Impact Assessment over the phone. The wait time between assessment submission and the assessment review varies depending on volume, with an average of between 2-4 weeks, in which companies have time to present supporting documentation to validate their assessment responses. Once the Assessment Review is scheduled, a company must upload supporting documentation for six to eight randomly selected questions related to company operations. These documents must be provided before the Assessment Review takes place, otherwise B Lab may postpone the call until documentation has been provided.
Complete an Assessment Review
An Assessment Review typically takes 60 to 90 minutes. This is a time for the company and a B Lab Standards Analyst to review questions or answers that may have been unclear and adjust the self-assessment to ensure that it captures the company's unique circumstances and impact as accurately as possible. This call typically results in score adjustments.
Submit Additional Documentation
After the review, an additional one to six responses focused on the company's business model will be selected for documentation. At this time, B Lab also reserves the right to ask for clarifying documents based on the initial review. Some back-and-forth is common following the review call and an additional one to three weeks may be required to resolve any outstanding questions about documentation.
Companies pursuing Certification are subject to background checks by B Lab staff. Background checks include a review of public records, news sources, and search engines for company names, brands, executives/founders, and other relevant topics. The results of background checks undergo the same review process as items selected in the Disclosure Questionnaire.
If the company's score is 80 points or above after the verification process, then the performance requirement has been fulfilled.
Each year, 10 percent of Certified B Corporations are selected for an in-depth Site Review. The companies that undergo Site Review each year include Certified B Corps who are randomly selected and those that are required to undergo an annual Site Review as part of expanded terms of Certification. Site Reviews take place virtually or on-site at the discretion of the B Lab team.
This component of the B Corp Certification is critical in maintaining the credibility of the Certified B Corp Seal. Our goal for this review is to verify the requirements of the Certification and further confirm the accuracy of affirmative responses in the company's B Impact Assessment. The Site Review will take place either in-person or virtually and typically takes between 6-10 hours depending on the size and scope of business.
Certified B Corps that are wholly-owned subsidiaries or public companies are subject to a mandatory on-site Site Review during each three-year Certification term. Learn more about requirements for subsidiaries and other related entities.
In order to maintain B Corporation Certification, a company must update their assessment every three years, provide additional documentation to verify their answers, and achieve at least 80 out of 200 available points. This process ensures that companies who become certified B Corporations continue to engage in a high level of impact with their stakeholders, even as the business grows or changes. The B Impact Assessment is updated every three years; recertification gives companies the opportunity to set improvement goals against the most-up-to-date standards and benchmark their performance over time.
All Certified B Corps share their B Impact Report publicly on their B Impact Reports on bcorporation.net. The B Impact Report is the summary of a company’s scores on the B Impact Assessment by category and contains no question-level information.
Companies with material items in their Disclosure Questionnaire or background check may be asked to make incremental information transparent on the their online profile. See Disclosure Questionnaire above for more information.
Public companies and wholly-owned subsidiaries are subject to additional transparency requirements.