B Corp Certification: A Guide for Ontario Businesses
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These days, many Ontarians want to “put their money where their mouth is” and support businesses that not only provide the products and services they want, but also represent high environmental and social responsibility standards. As a result, many businesses who align with these values seek out B Corp certification. BCorp certification is a designation indicating that a business meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. This certification helps businesses differentiate themselves from the competition and communicate their ethos to potential consumers.

As of 2023, there were 149 B Corps headquartered in Ontario, ranging from agricultural support to legal services. With environmental and social responsibility becoming an increasingly important topic, it is anticipated that more and more Ontario businesses will seek out B Corp certification to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Below, we’ll explain what B Corp certification is, its benefits, and what the certification process entails.

What is B Corp Certification?

B Corp certification is a certification obtained by companies following a rigorous assessment of their social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. This designation communicates that the business meets high standards in these areas, and is awarded to qualifying businesses by B Lab, which is a global nonprofit organization.

What are the Benefits of B Corp Certification?

Depending on your business, services, and the types of clients you serve, obtaining B Corp certification can be a critical differentiator, allowing you to attract potential clients and develop trust with them from the outset.

Some of the benefits of obtaining B Corp certification include:

  • Assessing your company’s performance: For many businesses, simply participating in the B Corp certification process can provide a current status assessment. It helps the company better understand where they are at in their performance, including how well the business is being run and what it could be doing better.
  • Differentiating your services in a competitive market: Obtaining B Corp certification can provide your business with a competitive advantage in more crowded service markets where clients are looking for businesses that stand apart from the rest.
  • Establishing credibility and trust with clients: B Corp certification provides clients with a neutral third-party validation of your commitment to social and environmental responsibility. In this sense, obtaining B Corp certification can help establish credibility and show that you truly “walk the walk” when it comes to your stated values.
  • Shaping your business to align with your values: In the same way that B Corp certification can help you attract new clients, it can also help you attract the “right” clients, particularly if working with like-minded clients or consumers who support environmental and social initiatives and value transparency and accountability is important to you.
  • Attracting and retaining talent: If you want to attract employees who live and breathe your company’s ethos, obtaining B Corp certification can be a great stepping stone to find your ideal talent. This certification demonstrates your company’s commitment to creating a positive impact, which can attract like-minded employees and foster a sense of ongoing pride and engagement among staff members.
  • Obtaining investments and capital: Some B Corps find that it is easier to raise funds because of their certification, as it indicates to potential investors that the company is well-managed and adheres to high ethical standards (and thus, lower risk to invest in).

As the above list demonstrates, there are a variety of benefits to obtaining B Corp status, ranging from attracting clients to raising capital, that could potentially appeal to a wide variety of businesses.

How Does a Business Obtain (and Maintain) B Corp Certification?

According to BLab, a business seeking B Corp certification must establish that they:

  • demonstrate high social and environmental performance;
  • will make a legal commitment by changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders (and not just shareholders) and achieve benefit corporation status if it is available in their jurisdiction; and
  • exhibit transparency by allowing information about their performance to be publicly available on their B Corp profile.

Below is a high-level overview of the steps involved in obtaining B Corp certification, keeping in mind that the specific requirements can vary based on your business’s revenue and company size. For further information on the process, or to determine whether B Corp certification is right for you, be sure to speak with an experienced corporate lawyer for guidance.

Steps For Obtaining B Corp Certification

B Corp certification is not a certification that applies to everyone. Before starting your application, consider whether you are eligible for B Corp certification. If B Corp certification is right for you, you can begin the process by registering for the B Impact Assessment, which measures your business’s performance by reviewing your answers to a series of questions about your governance, worker, community, environment, and customer performance.

Following the B Impact Assessment, you will receive a score. Businesses seeking B Corp certification must obtain at least 80 points to continue on the certification path. Even if your business does not obtain 80 points, the B Impact Assessment can provide important guidance on improving your business’s environmental and social practices.

If you scored 80 points or above, you can then submit your results to B Lab for further consideration. Following B Lab’s review, and assuming no further information is required, you will be eligible for B Corp certification and your business will be registered in the B Corp Directory (along with your B Impact Assessment score and report).

Remember that B Corp certification is only the beginning. To maintain your certification, businesses must update their B Impact Assessment and verify their score every three years.

Final Thoughts on B Corp Certification

While B Corp certification is by no means a requirement, it can, in some cases, be a great differentiating factor for Ontario businesses. Obtaining B Corp certification demonstrates your business’s commitment to broad environmental and social goals, and even initiating the B Corp certification process can help provide great insights into your business’s performance through the B Impact Assessment.

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At Baker & Company, our trusted corporate lawyers provide personalized services for businesses of all sizes. Our business law team provides trusted legal advice and a full range of tailored business solutions to help clients build, structure, and manage their corporate affairs. From our office in Toronto’s financial district, our corporate law team provides clients with practical and proactive legal advice to mitigate risk and resolve issues before they escalate into larger disputes. To learn how we can help you with your business needs, contact us online or call us at 416-777-0100 to speak with a member of our team.

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