Region / Country

  • Global

Environmental standards


Social and ethical responsibility standards


Is there a label to put on the product?


Who can hold accreditation?

  • Organisation

Who / what has accreditation

  • Organisation

Independent verification / audit


Accreditation information

Key stats

Relevant to book industry?

  • Publishers
  • Distributors/ sellers
  • Data centres
  • Printers
  • Shippers
  • Warehousing

Where in supply chain?

  • Across the supply chain

Key stakeholders?

  • Any organisation that wishes to apply for the standard

What type of entity is the badge certifying?

Organisation/management procedures & outcomes?

B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.

Environmental Attributes

Identifying the key elements

  1. What are the applicable environmental attributes?

Assesses five impact areas covering both environmental and social elements – governance, workers, community, environment and customers. The environmental pillar has four specific indicators primarily around activity parameters; environmental management, air and climate, water, and land and life. Each of these areas is assessed considering the organisation’s direct impact as well as across the supply chain (when relevant).

  1. Does the badge intend to assess social aspects & how are they related to environmental attributes?

Yes, social aspects are one of the five impact areas covered by B Corp.

  1. Which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the accreditation aligned to? How would receiving the certification help an organisation to achieve these goals?

Not explicitly linked to the SDGs however each of the four impact areas, and specific indicators within each pillar are strongly connected e.g., community – diversity, equity and inclusion.

  1. Is it recognised on an international, European or country level?

International – with regional advisory groups providing input to a central advisory council on suitable criteria for different markets (geographies and sectors)

  1. Does the badge have mutual recognition with other labels?

From the certified organisations, B Corp recognizes companies that have achieved the highest score in the environment pillar, awarding organisations ‘best for the world’ awards illustrated in badge and in company level impact assessments listed in the registry.

  1. What are the benefits and practicalities to the organisation receiving the accreditation? 

Linked to general benefits for progressing corporate sustainability e.g. improved employee motivation, investor/purchasing preferences as well as access to a network of B Corp certified companies and peers by sector, ensuring alignment, identifying shared challenges and solutions etc. References research demonstrating B Corp certified organisations outperforming peers within the same sector in terms of faster turnover growth, employee retention, diversity etc.

  1. a) Cost 

Varies by size and complexity – companies pay an annual fee for a license to use the logo and network access

  1. b) Time to achieve certification 

Varies significantly by the size and complexity of the organisation – the only timescales listed are 6 to 8 months for SMEs and longer for other organisations especially multi-nationals involved in controversial industries. Currently advise that certification times may be extended due to high demand. Tailored review approaches are applied for each company, considering annual revenue, size of the company based on the number of employees, corporate structure, sector. A review approach is provisionally determined at the start of the assessment however may change as B Corp learns more about the company.

    1. c) Do the certified bodies have to publish your progress every year ?

Continuous improvement is specified as a necessity for recertification e.g., setting a net zero target and demonstrating annual progress. Standards, and drafted standards for consultation, outlines expectations for the requirements at a given time interval. Within certain impact areas, the exact criteria are not defined uniformly e.g., impact management; companies set goals against other material topics not explicitly addressed within the assessment criteria which companies also need to demonstrate progress to at specificized time intervals.

  1. d) Response times for audit outcomes, reports and recommendations 

Depends on the review pathway provided to the company when first certified and size/complexity as above – no specific timeframe is provided.

  1. Is the accreditation tiered?

Reputation for very resource-demanding certification/verification processes and re-evaluations.

Assessment criteria

Governance Quality

  1. What is the overarching objective of the accreditation body? 

Transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet’.

  1. a) How is the badge verified? 

Standards are developed with input from three governance bodies – the Standards Advisory Council (the SAC – independent body), regional standards advisory groups by geography and sector as well as the board of directors which have ultimate decision making authority with the ability to overturn any decisions made by the councils by vote. Addressed through the complaints procedures/advisory councils.

  1. a) i. Independent body 

Independent SAC committee comprised of multi-stakeholder expertise and experience on topics related to impact performance – members (and organisational affiliations) are publicly listed. However, as has been commonly noted, members are predominantly from multi-nationals, financial institutions etc., with limited representation from not for profits, scientific representations who may otherwise push for more ambitious standards. The two other governing bodies are not stated as independent.

  1. a) ii. Governing body 

Not defined at this time.

  1. a) iii. Self-regulating 

The board of directors has ultimate authority over the recommendations made by the Standards Advisory Council and regional advisory councils.

  1. b) What are the criteria used to be recognized as the above? Considering human resource, technical expertise and financial input 

In addition to the SAC, regional working groups input to context relevant standards for different markets by geography and sector.

  1. a) How often are the certified products/organisations/projects re-evaluated? 

Not defined at this time.

  1. b) How often are the assessment and certification practices re-evaluated? 

Not defined at this time.

  1. c) What input do stakeholders have to the governance structure and certification processes? 

The SAC role is to adjudicate appeals regarding the interpretation of B Impact Assessments. Undertake consultations for feedback on draft standards, open to both employees of a certified company as well as the general public. Responders may also be invited for focus group discussions. Latest announcements in the development of standards are shared publicly.

  1. d) How responsive is the certification body to this feedback? 

When a complaint involves the creation of a model to determine how similar complaints are addressed, these are also publicly disclosed on a page detailing statements on controversial issues.

  1. To what extent are the answers questions 2 and 3 made transparent to consumers, the certified organisations and any other stakeholders? 

B Corp company-level impact assessments are available on the public registry, with scores under each pillar and impact area with brief outlines of the points each pillar assesses although no company-specific information is necessary to disclose. The standards, questionnaire or scoring system is not made publicly available through the website although would be accessible through the public reviews.

Governance effectiveness

  1. What environmental performance metrics are used – consumption data, emissions, life cycle analysis etc.? 

On first certification, companies complete a ‘B Impact Questionnaire’ with a total of 150 questions covering all five pillars such as ‘Does your company measure and manage water usage?’ and ‘How many of your employees are paid a living wage?’ This contains a mix of questions directly asking for information on environmental and social indicators, as well as whether the companies has policies in place to address these. Not all of these questions are scored/weighted but help B Corp to understand more about the business to determine the most appropriate scoring system and engagement/review approach. The maximum score possible for all indicators is 140, weighted according to the below. Achieving certification requires a score of 80 or more. Each company has the opportunity to meet virtually with someone from B Corp to discuss the assessment and any further information to verify the company’s answers is requested. The exact scoring system and weighting varies significantly (see below) and is unclear to what extent these are assessed against direct environmental and social indicators e.g. performance against climate targets. Whilst each company’s overall scores within each of the five pillars is publicly disclosed and a generic description is given for the scope of assessment under each pillar, there is no direct information provided about how these scores were reached. Companies can provide additional documentation to display on the page e.g. a sustainability report, which may contain more direct information however is not obviously mandated within the scope of assessment. Secondary commentaries have noted anecdotal evidence of B Corp scores increasing, or are above the sectoral average, whilst environmental impact indicators such as greenhouse gas emissions have appeared to increase in annual sustainability reports.

  1. a) How complete and accurate are these assessments? 

As above, the scope and completeness of the environmental and social impacts assessed versus the actual impact is highly unclear. The documentation provided on the website demonstrates positive practices e.g., transparent governance structures, reviewal processes, stakeholder/public involvement following principles on context-specific assessments and recommendations, however very limited information is available on the actual criteria used for assessments, and evidence provided against each score in company reports.

  1. b) How are these benchmarked? 

Each company score is benchmarked against a ‘median score for ordinary businesses who complete the assessment. Each indicator is quantitively scored (positively) – the values in each impact area vary by sector according to different levels of materiality moderated by size and geography of the business, as well as how difficult the practice is to implement and the directness of the indicator under each pillar

  1. c) What is the scoring system used? 

There is no clear understanding of the scoring methodology on the website.

  1. In what form are the outputs of certification delivered? 

Each certified company is displayed in a registry on the website detailing the score within each scope

  1. Are clear, actionable recommendations delivered and implemented? 

Unclear beyond requiring continuous improvement over time. A commentary by Acre on their experience with B Corp certification highlighted how gaps in their current processes and opportunities for improvement, even if actioning these areas was based on a voluntary commitment rather than required under continuous improvement as part of maintaining certification.

  1. To what extent do end-users understand what the badge is certifying? How visible is this on an end-product e.g., through a label? 

B Corp publicized research demonstrates very strong investor/customer/consumer preferences for B Corp certified companies against peers, however the depth of understanding is unclear i.e., how individuals interpret B Corp scores given how little transparency is provided to direct environmental and social performance. As one of the most commonly used sustainability certifications globally, B Corp receives significant media publicity often with a very negative framing around well-established high emitting business representing barriers to climate change. Criticisms are often levied against the type of businesses that are certified by B Corp, for example suppliers of bottled water whose business model is denounced as unethical/environmentally unfriendly by nature even if significant progress has been made within that model. And oppositely point to other for profit businesses visibly dedicated to sustainability who are also certified and receive similar scores undermining the credibility of the certification as a whole.

Social Responsibility Attributes

Key elements

  1. What are the key social performance areas the accreditations assesses? For instance, community involvement and human rights

Four out of the five impact areas assessed under B Corp are directly related to social responsibility – governance, workers, community and customers. Governance – Mission and engagement, ethics and transparency Workers – financial security, health and safety, career development, engagement and satisfaction, worker ownership and workforce development Community – Diversity, equity and inclusion, economic impact, civic engagement, supply chain management, poverty alleviation, microenterprise/micro franchise, local economic development Customer stewardship

  1. Do the above social performance areas interlink with achieving any positive environmental impacts?

Not explicitly however direct assessment indicators are unclear.

  1. Does the accreditation have different requirements for SMEs compared with larger organisations?

Varies by size and complexity – companies pay an annual fee for a license to use the logo and network access.

Governance Effectiveness

  1. What indicators are used to assess the social impact areas?

Four out of the five impact areas assessed under B Corp are directly related to social responsibility – governance, workers, community and customers.

  1. Are the above indicators a complete and accurate reflection of these social impacts?

Not defined at this time.

  1. How does the certification weight these indicators according to their effect on social value?

Not defined at this time.