What is a B Corp?
Certified Benefit corporations (B Corps for short) are companies verified by B labs to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance. They’re businesses that have proven they use business as a force for good. They have committed to include all stakeholders in their decisions – shareholders, employees, local communities, the environment and wider society.
A “Pending B Corp” is a company younger than a year old that has legally committed to becoming B Corp certified. The pending status is specifically designed for early-stage companies whilst they establish the processes and practices required to become fully B Corp certified.
What are the requirements to becoming a Pending B-Corp?
The first criterion required to become a ‘Pending B-Corp’ is age. Pending status is only open and available to businesses that have been trading for less than a year. “Trading” is the date from which you started working full time on the business, or formally engaged with a supplier or client.
If you are within the age limit, companies considering Pending B Corp status must then complete the B Impact assessment.
To achieve full B Corp certification, businesses must score more than 80 points on this assessment (there are up to 160 points available in total, across all the assessment criteria).
Pending B Corps, still early in their development, do not need to meet this 80-point requirement. However, the Impact Assessment is an important baseline from which to build and grow.
In order to become a Pending B Corp in the UK, companies must modify their Articles of Association to include two essential additions.
They must commit, legally to:
1. ‘Creating a material positive impact on society and the environment through [their] business and operations
2. ‘Considering all ‘stakeholder interests’ when making decisions – including your shareholders, employees, suppliers, society and the environment’. They thus show, by doing this, that they are committed to organising their business in a socially and environmentally impactful way right from the start.
This legal commitment is the single greatest change required to become a Pending B Corp.
The aim of this requirement is to formalise a company’s commitment to B Corp values – to embed the full stakeholder view at the heart of your company.
Pending B-corps then have 12 months to improve their Impact Assessment score to >80 points, at which point they can submit for full accreditation.
Why should my company become a Pending B Corp?
1. Embed using business for social good into your company’s DNA
Becoming a Pending B Corp requires you to embed stakeholder governance into your company’s DNA right from the start before you have begun working on many of the things already expected in established companies.
As you build your start-up, make decisions about your suppliers and teams, and formalise processes, Pending B-corp status forces you to consider the full stakeholder impact of your decisions: on the environment, employees, local communities and wider society.
The Pending B Corp process flips the traditional B-Corp process on its head. It asks future B Corps to ‘mission lock’ from the start of the journey, rather than at the end. This means that as processes, practices and policies are built, they are done so through the B Corp lens.
2. Become part of the B Corp community
The number of certified B Corps in the UK recently reached 1000, and is increasing by the day. There are, however, nearly 5 million companies in the UK and so only 0.02% of companies in the UK are certified as B Corp. With such a small percentage of companies in the UK being certified B corp – the community is tight-knit.
There is a directory of B Corps online, and the overwhelming majority of these companies are willing to help other companies on their B Corp journey. Whether this help is in speaking to prospective B Corps about the full accreditation process or sharing tips and resources for building out one’s governance documents or community initiatives – the community is a huge asset for any prospective B Corp.
3. Attract like minded-customers
As a Pending B Corp you can use the Pending B Corp logo in your marketing. Using this logo signals in all of your messaging that you are a company that is building itself to be aligned with B Corp’s values. This demonstrates an unmistakable commitment and company ethos to potential customers, employees, and suppliers.
4. Build something amazing
Becoming B Corp certified shows your dedication to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. In an age of cynicism, doubts, and failures in big business, B Corp is a symbol of a more conscious model of capitalism. Building something that has a mission takes time and commitment, and B Corp accreditation can be an important pillar in this journey.
How to become a Pending B Corp?
Firstly, prospective Pending B Corps must meet the legal accountability requirement for B Corp certification. This requires that stakeholder governance is embedded into the company’s articles – which in turn means that the company is legally accountable to its workers, customers, clients, and the communities in which it operates.
Second, the company must submit their B Impact assessment to B Labs. The company will obtain a score based on their answers, and they then have a year to improve their score to 80 so that they can be awarded their full B Corp certification after 1 year. If after a year the company has not reached 80 points they enter into an ‘improvement stage’ until they can prove they have met the criteria to be awarded their full B Corp status.
The company must pay £500 (from November 1st) in order to secure their submission and their pending status.
You can apply to become a Pending B Corp here.
Mo.Health’s decision to become a pending B Corp
At its core, Mo.health is about providing its members with access to healthcare. It is a big mission, with serious implications, and one where trust is vital. We want to show our members, not just tell them, that we’re committed to building something impactful for the long term.
We’re also very aware of how influential business can be as a tool of change, and we want to make our impact a positive one. We’re a tech company and so we’ve always wanted to use this tech for good. Joining a community of like-minded companies, with the same mission to use business as a genuine force for good, is a crucial component of our vision for the future of Mo.health.
It is clear to us that becoming a fully certified B corp is not a question of ‘if’, but rather one of ‘when’.