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To B or Not To B

In an ideal world, we would want all businesses to get B Corp Certified. We want to be able to hold every single for-profit entity accountable for their actions, to be the best global citizen that it can be for people and Earth. It is Forsei’s vision that “every single business is doing its part to make this world a better one.”

But, at this point, every single business should not be B Corp Certified. Most companies have the potential to be certified, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense for some to spend the time, the money, and the (great deal of) energy to completely shift your operations from traditional to responsible. Here are some characteristics and some questions to ask in considering whether your business should be B Corp Certified.

Forsei helping at United By Blue's Delaware River Cleanup. United By Blue is a clothing company that picks up a pound of trash from our waterways for every article of clothing sold.

Forsei helping at United By Blue's Delaware River Cleanup. United By Blue is a clothing company that picks up a pound of trash from our waterways for every article of clothing sold.

You, as a business owner, or employee, are heavily involved in your community.
We’re moving toward an age where work and life don’t necessarily have to be separate. We’re looking to align our personal values with a company’s values so that the place we spend most of our working hours is a happy, fulfilling place to be. If you’re spending a lot of time outside of work volunteering at the local homeless shelter, perhaps it’s time to implement an employee volunteering program, and offer PTO for volunteer time. Or, instead of investing all of this energy in fundraising for the local school, spend more time invested at work and donate to the school through the business.

Mayor Nutter at YIKES, Inc. Open House. YIKES is a Philadelphia company dedicated to social responsibility and sustainable business practices.

Mayor Nutter at YIKES, Inc. Open House. YIKES is a Philadelphia company dedicated to social responsibility and sustainable business practices.

Do your customers get excited about energy-saving or community investment aspects of your business?
One of the biggest reasons to become a more responsible business is that consumers are demanding it. If your customers don’t care about the PV panels you’re installing on the roof or don’t know what community organizations you donate to regularly, chances are your customers aren’t prepared to appreciate what you do as a responsible business. A business owner that is passionate about these issues is integral to running a responsible business, but it might not allow the business to gain the competitive edge that it might need.

Are you suffering from high employee turnover rate?
Employee engagement is a bit of a catch-22. You can invest a great deal of time and energy in ensuring that your employees feel appreciated and taken care of. They, in turn, will be more productive, and your business will thrive because your employees are thriving. There are so many amazing workers’ rights that are evaluated with the B Corp Certification. It looks at all developmental and relational aspects of being human...just in a workplace. So, if you don’t mind filling out W-9’s ten or more times a year, you could stick with the traditional business route.

Susty Party makes compostable, non-toxic party supplies like plates, cups, and straws.

Susty Party makes compostable, non-toxic party supplies like plates, cups, and straws.

Your sole competitive advantage is cost leadership.
Being responsible ain’t cheap. From choosing biodegradable cleaning supplies over standard supplies to investing in dental benefits for your servers or employing marginal populations. These things cost money, and they’re costs that you can’t build into a low price. The responsible business movement is about leveraging wealth where it matters--in people and in the planet--and there’s little room for cutting corners.

You don’t mind sharing your financials.
Transparency is a concept that’s difficult to extend beyond ourselves. I wouldn’t display my bank account records for the public to see: that would mean that people would see exactly what my income is, and exactly what I spend it on! Why do we think this way? If I had someone looking over my shoulder at my bank account, I can guarantee you my spending would be far more frugal. The same goes for business: we spend our money smarter when all of our stakeholders are watching what we’re doing.

 

There are so many amazing candidates out there for B Corp Certification. Businesses that are doing amazing things in both the environmental and social impact realms that would really propel the movement forward. DoGood Business is rampant, and we need to fan the fire! But we must first take a step back to determine which entities are fit for such a title.