I am proud to announce that 12PointFive received B Corp Certification at the beginning of this month!

I wrote about the certification back in May when I submitted. As a B Corp, we’re part of a global community of businesses that meet high standards of social and environmental impact. The certification is a testament to my commitment to balancing purpose with profit, striving for sustainability, and making a positive impact on the world.

Now that I’m officially certified, I revisited what I wrote about in May and have more information to share for those of you curious about B Corp and what the next steps for me are.

If you’ve heard it’s a long process, you’re right.

The certification took about 8 months from the time I submitted to receiving my official notification. This does not count the time I spent before February collecting everything and answering the assessment questions. I estimate that it took me 40-50 hours to pull it all together.

As someone well versed in certifications from the supplier diversity network, I can tell you that this certification was no joke.  It makes sense that while 150,000 companies use the B Lab assessment to evaluate their progress on their sustainability goals, only 7,351 are certified.

The rigorousness of the process creates a strong community.

I mentioned back in May that the community had been very welcoming already and since becoming certified that sense of belonging has only increased. It may be that because the process is such hard work, the companies that complete it feel a camaraderie toward one another.

In just the past several weeks since being certified I’ve:

  1. Received 3 invitations to speak about business development and my experience with B Corp certification
  2. Submitted one proposal to a potential client I met through B Corp
  3. Connected with a dozen fellow B Corps with B Corp being my “reason to connect”
  4. Spoke to several business owners who wanted to learn more about the B Corp process

As with other certifications, there is a powerful network…and it’s a part time job keeping up with it.

Because my B Corp friends were so generous before I got certified, I was on several newsletters and list serves before my official certification came through. After I was official, however, I saw that as with the supplier diversity networks, the sustainability network offers limitless opportunities to the companies that can take advantage of it.

There were about 40 other companies on my onboarding call last week and I made interesting connections with both product and service based companies. On the call, I connected with one company out of Vermont, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, one of 18 breweries that are certified B Corps in the U.S. They were sending their beer to a festival in DC that I was attending. It was sold out when I got there but I did get to send my new friend a picture of the booth.

A sign for Lawson's Finest Liquids Beer at a beer festival next to the same sign with a written note that reads Sold Out So Sorry.

I have been pretty much able to reach out and make connections to other B Corps but I’ve also heard that while the community is strong, it hasn’t served as main driver of revenue growth for many of them.

The community is strong but the strength of the brand is still growing outside of the sustainability world.

Something I’ve often heard in the supplier diversity networks is that it’s easier for product based companies to leverage their certifications, while of course, product based companies think it’s easier for service based companies. B Corp is no exception but the brand has different name recognition geographically as well. One company from Canada that makes healthy pet food said that B Corp was in high demand from their customers, while other service based companies thought it was more of a nice to have than a need to have.

So far even in the brief time it’s been a differentiator for me among other business owners, while procurement people may or may not know what it means.

It might not be for everyone.

I spoke to a number of companies that are interested in pursuing B Corp certification as a differentiator and a signal of their commitment to using business as a force for good. In the meantime, though, those companies are offsetting their carbon emissions, establishing volunteer and financial giveback programs, and tracking their success internally if not showcasing it externally yet.  Programs like Climate Neutral are a good stepping stone to B Corp certification even if you’re not ready to complete the whole assessment yet.

What I’m looking forward to

Another complicating factor is that having gone through this whole process – the standards are changing at the beginning of 2024.  I won’t have to re-certify until 2026 but I’m curious to see how those changes affect the membership.

At the same time, starting in January B Corp is introducing Equity Pricing which will reduce the pretty substantial annual membership fee for me.  And the discount is even more significant for Black- and Indigenous- owned companies.

One of the most powerful networks in the B Corp community is We The Change, which is for women CEOs and executives within the community. They have introduced a paid membership to make the group more professional and I’m looking forward to seeing what kinds of benefits that will bring. I’m planning on going to their annual retreat in May.

I also plan to solidify some of these new contacts as I get more involved in the network. There is clearly a tremendous amount of opportunity to educate the B Corp world about supplier diversity and the supplier diversity networks about B Corp.  I may also have some exciting partnerships to mention.

Reporting and Impact

Oh, and in my end of year wrap up, I’ll be including more environmental goals in terms of offsetting my carbon footprint and energy usage, along with counting my spend with B Corp companies.  Especially with the standards changing, I want to keep an eye on how I can improve to offer even more impact.

I’ve always believed that business can be a force for good, and this certification reflects that. It’s more than a label; it’s a promise to our planet and our community. I look forward to sharing more about the journey with you!