If you want your business to have a positive brand image and reputation, nothing seems more important these days than convincing consumers, clients, and employees that you are socially and environmentally responsible. So it’s no wonder that companies are clamoring to promote their latest good works and agencies are touting their own expertise in this growing specialty.
But an increasing number of organizations have found a way to prove they are walking the talk: They have become a certified B Corporation, which stands for the benefit a business creates in the world.
There are now more than 1,000 B Corporations in 34 countries, including Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Etsy, and Warby Parker – all of which have seen great brand value and financial success because of their commitment to the greater good.
I.d.e.a. recently became one of just 25 agencies in the US to receive this certification. To get it, you need to go through performance and legal measures, such as evaluating your impact on stakeholders including workers, community, customers, and the environment; undergo an assessment by B Lab, the nonprofit that handles certification; and incorporate environmental sustainability into your company’s mission and governing documents.
To earn and maintain a certification, you also need to set goals and measure your impact beyond the balance sheet. For example, I.d.e.a. has committed to investing in the community by giving more than $150,000 in pro bono service and donations to local and national nonprofits in 2015.
We have found that getting certified makes us a more credible firm in the eyes of current and potential clients. The B Corp. symbol can also be an important differentiator for consumer-facing brands and clients. As The New York Times’ Tina Rosenberg opined, "Consumers are looking for responsible companies; B Corp. provides what is lacking elsewhere: proof." Think of it this way: The B Corp. approval is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA organic certification is to milk.
If you want to prove that you are responsible to key audiences, and be at the forefront of a growing movement, consider becoming a B Corp. It’s good for business and good for the world.
Amon Rappaport is VP of brand purpose, I.d.e.a.