Why Certified B Corps Attract More Talent: Q&A with Rebecca Jewell
Can using business as a force for good help attract talent? B Lab’s Rebecca Jewell shares insights on why (and how) companies become Certified B Corporations.
Photo Credit: B Corporation
With now over 1,600 Certified B Corporations (for-profit companies committed to rigorous standards of social and environmental performance), the B Corp movement is growing exponentially. I hopped on a call with Rebecca Jewell, community engagement associate at B Lab, to talk about how becoming a B Corp can benefit your recruitment and retention strategy.
“Our end goal is for companies to compete not only to be best in the in the world, but best for the world.”
What is B Lab?
B Lab is a non-profit which supports people using business as a force for good. Our end goal is for companies to compete not only to be best in the world, but best for the world. This way, society would have a more shared and durable prosperity.
We do this through a number of initiatives, the first of which is building a community of Certified B Corporations all over the world. We recently passed the 1,600 mark of certified companies. I remember when I started at B Lab a few years ago, there were only 600!
Second, we promote mission alignment through innovative corporate structures, such as the benefit corporation. A company can incorporate as a benefit corporation to bake sustainability into the DNA of their business.
From a talent acquisition perspective, why should employers become B Corps?
There are hundreds of articles about how job seekers are looking to work for mission-driven organizations. They want their work to have a purpose and impact. B Corp certification is a way to signal to employees that you actually walk your talk.
Besides that, employers often get asked why a prospective candidate should decide to work for their company. B Corp is an answer to that question. We hear time and time again that being a Certified B Corporation has helped companies attract talent they didn’t have access to before, by giving them a way to show their commitment, or by using the B Corp Jobs Board—which hit over 10,000 views last month alone.
Universities like the Yale School of Management among others offer loan forgiveness for grads who works for B Corps – so that’s a draw for talent as well.
Can you give an example of an employer that has seen measurable benefit to their recruitment efforts thanks to B Corp certification?
Kickstarter became both a B Corp and a benefit corporation at the same time. When they announced that new structure, the visits to their job page went up 33%. And Kickstarter is already a pretty attractive place to work, so that’s a lot.
Anecdotally, I hear all the time that the caliber of employees who come in through our Jobs Board are higher than the applicants employers usually see.
Is certification only for organizations that already have robust corporate social responsibility initiatives or programs in place?
So as I mentioned there’s a little more than 1,600 B Corps but there are more than 40,000 companies that use the B Impact Assessment—which is the certification tool.
There are companies scoring anything from 0 to 160—they’re using the tool to measure and manage their impact, even after they’ve already been certified. To certify, a company must score at least 80 out of 200 points, which is a rigorous bar to meet. This means that companies do need to have a holistic approach to impact in order to become a B Corp. We consider how they treat their workers, the community, and the environment.
Are there steps companies should take before doing the Impact Assessment?
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. So I think taking the assessment is an excellent first step. There’s lots of best practices and tools throughout the assessment and then on the B Impact website. Tons of companies take it, get a low score and use the roadmap of the impact assessment to improve.
Does B Corp certification appeal to all generations of workers?
On the B Corp Jobs Board you’ll find postings at all levels, from internships to C-suite positions. We hear of individuals who want to work for Certified B Corporations at various stages in their careers. Within the community, we have found that once an individual works for a Certified B Corporation, they usually want to stay in the family.
“Job seekers are looking to work for mission driven organizations.”
Are there any interesting recruiting metrics in the assessment?
There a lot of great metrics in the workers section and that’s one of the sections that we hear about time and time again from employers saying, “oh I didn’t even think to offer that or measure that.” We ask about compensation, benefits, training and professional development, job flexibility, communication, company culture, time off to volunteer, employee satisfaction and engagement.
Does the information you provide and the score you receive remain confidential?
The B Impact Assessment is a free and confidential tool before you certify. However, once you do certify, we have a transparency requirement. You can look up the profile of any Certified B Corporation and see their score broken down by area. You could see their workers score, and then the sub-scores within there, but you wouldn’t see the individual question, those are still confidential.
Honestly, B Corps celebrate the transparency requirement, so we don’t see a lot of pushback on that. There are certainly a lot of questions that would be sensitive to share with the world, so that’s what the breakdown is for. But many of our companies share the information internally already.
Who, within a company, should be responsible for leading the B Corp certification process?
That varies by company size, industry, and who is interested in certification and measuring the impact of the business. In smaller to mid-size companies, it’s often the CEO who leads the charge. But it also can be Sustainability, Marketing, and HR teams. There is not a wrong person, but it should be someone who is passionate about achieving certification.
“It’s about being a leader of a movement and member of a great community of companies and employees.”
If a company’s talent team sees value in pursuing certification, how might they make the case to senior leadership?
Talk with leadership and learn about their priorities and goals for the one to five-year range—because there a lot of different reasons why companies certify. See if your company’s goals align with the B Corp’s and use that as an angle.
I’d also take a look at who in your community is already a B Corp. Do you have competitors or peers who are already certified?
Protecting your mission is a compelling reason to become certified. It’s for that CEO who wants to move on, but wants to make sure the company remains what they created. Mainly though, it’s about being a leader of a movement and member of a great community of companies and employees.
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