B Lab’s vision has always been that all companies compete to be not only the best in the world, but the best for the world. As a part of that vision, it is necessary to include multinational companies, whose complexity, scale and impact has created challenges for a set of certification standards and processes that have been primarily designed for small to mid-size businesses.
As larger companies have increasingly taken notice of the innovations and impact of the B Corp community, it has become even more necessary for B Lab to clarify the path to certification for multinational companies and ensure that it is both meaningful and manageable. To address this challenge, B Lab has engaged the Performance Standards Working Group of the Multinational and Public Markets Advisory Council. B Lab is excited to share the results of that process, with a set of ten preliminary recommendations developed by the Performance Standards Working Group.
Aligned with the idea of creating both a “meaningful” and “manageable” path to certification, the recommendations have been designed to do two things: (1) Create a more efficient verification process for multinationals, who have been limited in pursuing B Corp Certification because of the current processes for certification and the complexity of their organizations, and (2) increase the relevance and rigor of the standards themselves, recognizing that the scale of impact created by multinationals ought to entail additional corporate obligations and requires different measures of performance.
B Corp Certification has always been designed for a select group of leaders who have differentiated themselves from other businesses because of their higher standards of performance, transparency, and accountability; the results of this process are intended not only to ensure that B Lab and the B Corp Certification scales with integrity, but also creates a set of aspirational goals that we hope multinationals will follow.
The attached document outlines the challenge areas identified by the Performance Standards Working Group, detailed descriptions of each of the recommendations, and the next steps in the process.
B Lab is grateful to the members of the Performance Standards Working Group, as well as the variety of other organizations and stakeholders that have contributed their ideas, feedback, and research as inputs into the process. While the initial release of these recommendations signals an important milestone in B Lab’s engagement with multinationals, there is still work to be done to continue to refine, improve, and ultimately implement, the recommendations.
To that end, B Lab is now engaging in a period of testing and comment, with several different opportunities for engagement. First, a group of twelve multinational companies are participating in a testing process designed to explore and provide feedback on the recommendations. While participation in the testing process does not signal an intent to pursue B Corp Certification and does not directly progress the testers in the B Corp Certification process, it is an important opportunity for companies outside of the B Corp community to contribute to the B Corp movement, and a necessary step for B Lab to continue to reflect on, revise, and improve the initial set of recommendations that have been created.
Second, B Lab has welcomed a group of stakeholder organizations with expertise in social or environmental performance issues for multinationals to join the Multinational and Public Markets Advisory Council as Commenters, with a specific aim of providing expertise on specific topical areas, and ensuring a balanced and rigorous set of recommendations that reflect the needs of the stakeholders. The full list of commenters and testers, along with the members of the Performance Standards Working Group, is available here.
Finally, while space and participation formally on the Multinational and Public Markets Advisory Council is limited, the recommendations are now publicly available and all interested stakeholders are able to submit their feedback to the recommendations. For any interested parties, you may direct questions or comments to B Lab’s Director of Standards, Dan Osusky, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the period of testing and comments, these recommendations will be revised and presented to B Lab’s independent Standards Advisory Council later in 2018, for anticipated implementation beginning in January 2019.