Even if you feel your business isn’t yet ready to achieve certification yet, the best thing you can do is to start going through the initial assessment process.
Not only will this inform you of the different processes and practices within your business, but it will also highlight the areas that may require some additional work before you submit the initial assessment.
In my previous article on B Corp certification, I gave information about what being a B Corp represents and how we at First Wealth achieved our B Corp status. In the article, I highlighted the areas we focused on within our business and the improvements we made at the time of going through the assessment, but also the longer-term projects that have branched off from going through this process.
The best course of action I could recommend you take now is to stop procrastinating about whether you would gain the minimum score required to pass the assessment, and instead put your energy into getting a couple of people within your organisation onside to help you out. This process is intensive and will require a lot of time, dedication and attention.
Go to the B Corp website and click on ‘Get Started’. Create your own login by completing the initial registration details – name – email address – password etc, and then you’ll receive a notification by email with your login details.
I would suggest setting up a B Corp folder somewhere on your database - we use SharePoint - so that you can keep a copy of your report and any collated documents in one place.
Secondly, I would create and save an excel spreadsheet so that you can record the areas where you’ll need to take action either prior, during or after the assessment process. We called ours ‘B Corp Plans to enhance our input’.
The headings we added to the schedule were as follows:
- Points scored
- Points available
- Revised score
- What do we do already?
- What could we do to enhance our input?
- Action taken
Under ‘Area’ we added the main governance areas as confirmed in the initial assessment document and the related activity. For example, under ‘governance’, we added ‘mission and engagement’ and then broke that down into the subject: – ‘level of impact focus’, ‘mission statement characteristics’, ‘social and environmental decision-making' etc.
Next, we added the score that we’d achieved in the initial assessment, and the points available. If you’re not yet ready to complete the assessment, simply start by adding the available points onto the schedule, and you can come back and add the points you did score at a later date.
Working your way through
Within your B Corp team, start to work your way through the assessment - I’d recommend updating the spreadsheet as you go, and taking the time to really look at each area of your business.
When you get to the ‘what could you do to enhance your input?’ column, think of your business as a blank canvas; what might you do differently if you started all over again, rather than just focusing on what you could do to improve where you are? If you focus too much on what you already do, you may be blocking some fantastic ideas that could make your business even better.
At First Wealth, we had (and still continue to have) some really big ideas and plans which came from our initial assessment, and despite the fact we’re in our second year since becoming a B Corp, our plans are ongoing and keep getting bigger and better as we continue to challenge ourselves and our new way of thinking and working.
Our future plans also include bringing a member of the team in to focus on our B Corp activity as a full-time role. We’ve achieved a lot in the short time we’ve been on this journey, but there is so much more we could be doing if we had more resources to commit to it.
So, even if you are not ready yet to submit your initial assessment but do still want to review your current business model against the assessment criteria, give it a go! There is no time limit on you from creating the login to completing the initial assessment.
Submitting the review
If you’re ready to commit fully and submit your assessment for review, you’ll be asked to complete additional reports which look further into the financials, working practices, employee benefits, third-party supplier details etc within your organisation. You’ll then be interviewed by a B Corp assessor who will review your answers and may ask for evidence of any details given.
Once B Corp certified, you will need to complete a re-assessment every three years. As I’ve mentioned, at First Wealth we have a team of four of us who commit a few hours each a month to keep on top of our project work, such that when the time comes for re-assessment, we are confident we will be able to pass with an even better score than we did with the initial assessment.