2014-03-19

Co.Exist

The Best Businesses For The World In 2014, According To B Lab

B Lab's alternative "Fortune 500 list" highlights 92 businesses that have the biggest social bottom lines.

The ranks of businesses that are certified B Corps are growing quickly. In 2012, when B Lab released its first annual "Best Businesses for the World" list, there were already more than 500 firms that had committed to meeting the nonprofit certifying organization’s high social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency standards. By 2013, about 650 companies had achieved B Corp status, including well-known brands like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry's. This year has seen even bigger growth, with a total of 970 companies across 60 industries in 32 countries committed to one goal: Redefining business "success" as being about more than just about making the biggest profit.

This growth is the reason why there are 92 businesses on this year's "Best Businesses for the World" list, which B Lab defines as the top 10% of companies scoring highest on the group’s "B Impact Assessment." The measurement tool looks at three categories: a company’s environmental footprint, as defined by its products, manufacturing, and supply chain; its community impacts, including hiring diversity and charitable giving; and its treatment of workers, including benefits, pay, and training programs. (See Co.Exist's recent Q&A with B Lab's co-founder.)

This year’s honorees represent 31 industries, with the majority in a service industry, including 17 in financial services and 15 in environmental consulting. Encouragingly, 30% are companies outside of the U.S., with 15 in emerging markets including Afghanistan, Kenya, and Colombia. B Lab divided up the honorees by business size: 10 honorees had more than 50 employees; 26 had 10-49 employees; and 56 were "micro-enterprises" with fewer than 10 employees.

Among the largest winners included Roshan-Telecom, Afghanistan’s largest telecommunications provider; d.light design, a major manufacturer and distributor of solar lighting and power products; Give Something Back Office Supplies, which is California’s largest independent office supply company; and Sunrise Banks, a community bank in Minnesota that supports affordable housing, small business development, and nonprofits.

B Corps are just one way to measure businesses and organizations doing social good, so this isn’t the be-all-and-end-all list of the best businesses for the world. But B Lab does make an effort to account for differences in sustainability performance across different industries. The B Impact Assessment, on which the honoree list is based, is customized based on company size, industry, and location.

The full list of winners, along with a detailed B Impact assessment for each company, is available here. Later this year, B Lab will release additional lists that break down categories further, including the "Best for the Environment," "Best for the Community," and "Best for Workers."

[Image: Abstract via Shutterstock]

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