2012-03-07

Co.Exist

The 20 Best Businesses For The World

According to B Lab, at least. After giving a rigorous assessment to its member companies, the organization that certifies triple-bottom-line businesses found that these had risen to the top.

B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies B Corporations—companies that meet strict legal accountability, environmental, and social performance standards—has only been around for half a decade. During that time, over 500 companies throughout the U.S. registered as B Corporations.

All the certified corporations have been evaluated with the B Impact Assessment, a free sustainability management tool, to benchmark their success. Using those scores, B Lab has culled the best of the best—the companies that have the highest social and environmental impact out of all the corporations that meet B Lab’s standards for certification. These companies, which all scored in the top 10% on the B Impact Assessment, embody the triple bottom line.

The B Impact Assessment looked at three categories. First, how a company affects the environment, measured by the footprint of its products, manufacturing, and supply chain. Second, community, as measured by things like labor practices, company diversity, and charitable giving. Finally, the B Impact Assessment looks at a company’s workers: how much they’re compensated, whether they’re offered benefits or training programs, and generally whether the corporate culture supports them.

When all these factors were added up, B Lab came out with the top 10%: Better World Books, Global Green Energy Corp, Green Building Services, Larry’s Beans, Method Home Products, Moving Forward Education, Namaste Solar, New Resource Bank, Next Street, Partnership Capital Growth, Piedmont Biofuels, PREM Group, Re:Vision Architecture, RecycleBank, South Mountain Company, Southern Energy Management, SQA Pharmacy Services, The Redwoods Group, and Virginia Community Capital.

Some of these may sound familiar. Co.Exist has written about Better World Books, which collects books that libraries and colleges are going to throw out and sets aside part of each book sale for its nonprofit literacy partners. We have also extensively covered Method, the cleaning supply company that only offers nontoxic products. RecycleBank was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2012.

The others are not quite as well known. San Francisco residents might have heard a little something about New Resource Bank, a local bank that finances green businesses and cleantech companies. Next Street also has a hand in the banking industry—the company’s Next Street Opportunity Fund offers capital to urban business owners based on potential, not just their history.

Better World Books’ impact and growth.

These companies don’t just do good, they also make money. For example, Better World Books has managed to grow its revenue at the same time as it grows in impact.

Revolution Foods, another B Corporation (but one that didn’t quite make the top 10%) has also seen a rise in both revenue and impact. The company, which Fast Company listed as one of the top 10 most innovative companies in food, offers healthy, unprocessed lunches to schools in eight states and Washington D.C.

B Lab’s annual report lists a host of other companies that make the top 10% in individual categories—environment, community, and treatment of workers. For the full list, check out the report (PDF).

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7 Comments

  • Prankstar7

    Leslie and Shannon- where is the list for the Small Businesses that made the cut? 

  • Environmental Small Business

    As much as we support triple bottom line businesses, we cannot support B lab's approach to certification.  As an environmental consulting firm who went through the B lab assessment, we were alarmed that the environmental pieces of the assessment received ZERO points.  All of our environmental core practices were entered into the assessment tool and yet the auditor reviewing the application during the one hour assessment explained that these areas do not earn points toward the certification.  As much as we wanted to join the program, we could not justify paying a $500 fee and getting "certified" in a scheme that did not recognize our environmental and social practices as a small business. 

    Instead, points were given for having a Board and several other categories that were directed at large corporations and wouldn't necessarily apply to a small or micro business.  Many of the questions would appear intimidating for small businesses. 

    Even the fee structure for B lab speaks to the fact that they are focusing the program on large businesses: 

    Annual Net Sales

    Annual Fee

    $0 - $1,999,999
    $500

    $2 M - $4,999,999
    $1,000

    $5 M - $9,999,999
    $2,500

    $10 M - $19,999,999
    $5,000

    $20 M - $99,999,999
    $10,000

    $100 M +
    $25,000

  • Hardik @ B Lab

    Hello,
    I'm Hardik Savalia, and I'm on staff with B Lab.  In general,
    environmental consulting firms who directly help organizations reduce
    their environmental impact receive a significant amount of credit (up to
    30pts) in the assessment.  Our apologies if we did not capture that
    impact initially; we would be happy to review again with you.  

    The assessment is actually tailored down to be more appropriate for
    companies 1-9 employees.  The advanced questions are not intended to
    intimidate businesses at all; they are simply opportunities to achieve
    credit for positive practices that some small businesses have
    intentionally deployed to achieve their social mission.  In fact, many
    of these advanced questions were derived from the feedback that other
    small businesses provided (doesn't mean they are appropriate or
    perfect).  

    The process and standards are very much evolving, and we would love
    to be in touch with you to hear how we can improve it.   Looking forward
    to being in touch.  (hardik@bcorporation.net  610-296-8283)

    Thanks,
    Hardik

  • green whynot

    hey even we are a sustainability consulting organisation - facebook.com/green.whynot & were looking to get b certified - now after reading your post i think we should let it go...thanks for your input.

  • Leslie Huffman

    We are very proud to be listed as a 2012 Winner as Best For the World too!  We appear in the Small Company category and scored in the top 10% for Overall Impact among small B Corps. JustNeem Body Care is proud of our social, ecological, and economic impact in West Africa and thrilled to be recognized as doing so.