Blog Post: Benefit Corporations

Do you ever find yourself, as I do, feeling cynical about marketing claims made by businesses about their "green" products, services, or operations?  Identifying “green washing”, as it’s termed, can be a significant challenge for the public when making decisions about which businesses to support.  It can often take a great deal of time and research to determine which businesses are making genuine claims.  Such businesses, once vetted, get my full support because I am confident that they operate with integrity.
Benefit Corporations
Two years ago it was with great interest that I learned about Benefit Corporations (B Corps), a new designation for creating transparent standards that identify and measure businesses that operate in socially and environmentally responsible ways.  The non-profit B Lab organization, which came into existence in 2007, has certified a growing list of Benefit Corporations, now numbering at 603 businesses across 60 industries, located mostly in North America (thus far).
So what is a B Corporation?  As the B Lab website describes, “Our vision is simple yet ambitious: to create a new sector of the economy which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. This sector will be comprised of a new type of corporation - the B Corporation - that meets rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. “[1]
Additionally, “B Corporations address two critical issues:
1.  Current corporate law makes it difficult for businesses to take employee, community, and environmental interests into consideration when making decisions
2. the lack of transparent standards makes it difficult to tell the difference between a 'good company' and just good marketing”
Why do I think B Corporations are important?  Because B Corp certification is a tool for creating standards that can be measured; that go beyond just good marketing and that harness the power of business as a tool for driving positive change.  By providing impact assessments that consider accountability, employees, consumers, community, and the environment, I feel confident that any business bearing the Certified B Corporation designation is operating by a higher set of standards.
To become a Certified B Corp, a business must go through an assessment process and attain a score of at least 80 points out of 200 in order to be eligible for certification.  Here in Canada there are currently 40 businesses listed as Certified B Corps, including Sustainability Television™ (which received the 7th highest assessment score, at 129 points). 

Several Canadian B Corps, including Sustainability Television™, were singled out and honoured by B Lab this year for being “Best for the World” businesses in 2012.  More information about the Canadian honourees can be found in this Financial Post article[2]
Here is a list of Canadian B Corps:

Company Composite B Score Website Industry Founding Canadian B Corp?
  1. The Sustainability Advantage
151.8 Management & Financial Consulting F
  1. Better The World
149.2 IT software & services  
  1. Enviro-Stewards
144.4 Energy Efficiency & Consulting  
  1. Renewal2 Investment Fund
140.6 Social Venture Capital F
  1. Bullfrog Power
134 Renewable energy provider F
  1. Habitat Carbon Assets
130.8 Carbon offsets F
  1. Sustainability Television
129 Online Community F
  1. PeaceWorks Technology Solutions
127.3 IT software & services  
  1. Mazimvula Ventures Inc.
126.1 Management & Financial Consulting  
  1. Water Power Group
124.8 Power producer F
  1. Green Living Enterprises
124.6 Marketing, Communications & Event Services  
  1. BluPlanet Recycling
120.2 Recycling no
  1. Conscious Brands
119.1 Management & Financial Consulting  
  1. Salt Spring Coffee
119.1 Coffee F
  1. Climate Smart Business, Inc.
118.6 Enviromental Impact Measurement & Monitoring no
  1. Tyze Personal Networks Ltd.,
116.5 Home & Personal Care F
  1. Venture Deli
116.3 Management & Financial Consulting no
  1. Global Reef
114.1 Marketing & Communications Services no
  1. Lunapads
109.7 Personal care products F
  1. Ethical Bean Coffee
107.1 Coffee  
  1. Squag
106.4 Online social platform for kids No
  1. Fairware Promotional Products
103.6 Marketing & Communications Services F
  1. Benevity Social Ventures
101.9 software F
  1. Borden Communication + Design Inc.
101.7 Marketing & Communications no
  1. Hypenotic
95.2 Marketing & Communications Services  
  1. Lovesocial
94.6 Social Media Communications no
  1. OtoSim Inc.
92.9 Otoscopy Training and Simulation System F
  1. Big Room
92.3 IT software & services F
  1. SMART Watering Systems
92.1 Sustainability Consulting F
  1. Sarona Asset Management
89.8 Equity Investor - Emerging Markets F
  1. Living Forest Communities
89.7 Real Estate development F
  1. Saul Good Gifts
89.2 Gifts F
  1. aroundsquare
88.5 Toy co.  
  1. The Ian Martin Group
88.3 Recruitment F
  1. Skymeter Corporation
86.5 Other land transport (ISIC 492)  
  1. Dirtt
85.9 Building Materials F
  1. Ecojot
80.9 100% post-consumer recycled paper products  
  1. Left Coast Naturals
80.7 Food & beverage F
  1. Ethical Ocean
80.5 e-commerce no
  1. Positive Impact Law Group
80.5 Legal F