B-Corp: ‘This is the most significant shake up to the standards in the history of the movement’ 

by | Jul 13, 2023

Rumours have been whirring about what the new B-Corp standards could look like since December 2020, when they first came under review. To settle the storm, we spoke to a member of B-Lab UK’s Regional Standards Advisory group…

From a switch up to the points system to brand new benchmarks, the seventh iteration of B-Corp has been the word on the sustainability street for months now. 

Dubbed by the certifier as a ‘review to understand whether more specific and mandatory performance requirements’, the process has seen key advisors and stakeholders club together to reframe what the expectations look like. 

One person involved in the process is Adam Garfunkel, Sustainable Beauty Coalition Advisory Board Member and co-founder of Junxion – an international sustainability consultancy. Here, he shares his intelligence on the new standards…

Why are the new standards being introduced?

‘The current B-Corp expectations came in 2019, which means that they precede the depth of the climate crisis that we are in now, COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter Movement and more. So, they felt increasingly out of date, and not really fit for purpose anymore,’ starts Garfunkel, before also highlighting the rise of the purpose economy and societal expectations as other key shifts to catalyse the change. 

He continues: ‘Due to the rise of science-based targets companies and customers have realised it’s not good enough to just be 5% better than last year, now you have to align yourself to the wider expectations of society.’ 

What are the new expectations set to look like? 

Since launching, B-Corp’s infamous 80-point system has been vital for its legitimacy as a certifier. With some brands passing with flying colours – see Weleda’s 107 point score – and others scraping through, ‘there is the potential in the current model to pick and choose your route to 80’. 

‘Companies haven’t necessarily been addressing the most important things, but the simplest areas, to reach 80,’ starts Garfunkel, before explaining: ‘In the new standards, there will be 10 points that every brand has to address. The benchmark for good business is taking action in all areas.’ 

What do the new B-Corp ten points look like?

‘There are the standard ones like environmental management, climate action, equity, diversity and inclusion,’ he sets out. 

But, it’s not all going to be that simple. There are three clear pain points for brands that Garfunkel highlights – purpose, collective action, and impact management.

‘These are the secret sauce of B-Corp,’ explains Garfunkel. ‘How brands are managing against their purpose statement, continually assessing their impact using B-Corp’s tools, and how they’re harnessing a collective voice will be brought to the fore. I think some brands will find it hard to hit these points.’ 

How will brands transition to the new B-Corp standards?

Deep breaths everyone, there’s no need to re-certify if you receive the accolade just before the new rules are brought in. ‘This is the most significant shake up to the standards in the history of the movement,’ says Garfunkel, ‘The movement has been very clear that it will likely take years and years to make the full transition.’

Nothing is confirmed about exactly how the new standards will be phased in, so take Adam’s word for it until its official launch in 2024.

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