Smith Assembly is thrilled and proud to announce that we were certified as a B Corp™ in December 2021!
What Are B Corps
Certified B Corporations® are a new kind of business that balances profit and purpose. They meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability and are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. They exemplify the triple bottom line approach to business by considering people and the planet alongside profit.
B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab®. To qualify for certification, they must complete a rigorous assessment and verification process in which they receive a score of at least 80. There are over 4,000 certified B Corps across 153 industries in 77 countries. B Corporations are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Why We Invested In B Corp Certification
Ta and I are both purpose- and impact-driven. We believe that for-profit businesses can and should be a force for good in the world, and that there’s a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and just way to do business. When we created Smith Assembly, we spent a lot of time talking about how to build that ethos into our foundation and practices from the beginning. We believed one of the best ways for us to move beyond words and take meaningful action was to become a B Corp.
B Lab’s inspiring ‘Declaration of Interdependence’ summarizes our commitment and our hope for the future.
We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.
This economy is comprised of a new type of corporation—the Certified B Corporation—which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
As B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:
- That we must be the change we seek in the world.
- That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
- That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.
Life and business are not zero-sum games. Let’s work together to make a world in which as many people as possible thrive.
What We Learned During Certification
It Requires Commitment & Significant Investments
It wasn’t a surprise that the certification process took a lot of time and effort. We knew it would be thanks to research we did and a preparation program we attended. We began reviewing the B Impact Assessment in June 2020, submitted our application in February 2021, and completed verification in December 2021.
It Requires A Lot Of Detailed Documentation
Looking back, the advice we previously shared is still relevant. It helps to start creating your company’s documentation as early as possible. You’ll need a succinct summary of your company’s purpose as well as the impact you plan to make on your workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Since B Lab evaluates and certifies a wide variety of companies (from tiny startups to ginormous international corporations) in an equally wide variety of industries around the world, they have their own unique definitions for common terminology and their own unique requirements for common documentation. It’s helpful to appoint a point person who can learn what’s needed so they can support the rest of your team and shepherd your application through the process.
It Requires Deep Consideration & Cross-Departmental Collaboration
The bulk of our certification efforts went into crafting policies and benefit programs. Not only is an employee handbook the single most important document a company can have to detail their commitments in each of B Lab’s five assessment areas (governance, workers, customers, community, and environment), it’s also the foundation of a healthy workplace culture. The B Impact Assessment encourages you to think deeply about each of these areas and suggests ways you could strengthen your commitments. So, even if you already have an employee handbook, it’s almost certain you’ll need or want to make changes. To do so, you’ll need the involvement (or at least consensus) of your entire leadership team.
It’s Worth It
We’ve only just been certified, so it’s too early to tell what our return on investment will be. We’ve read that it’ll benefit our company (in articles like PwC 2019, NYTimes 2019, and Vogue Business 2020). For us, however, becoming a B Corp has never been about ROI. Instead it’s about modelling the world we want to live in and joining a global community of people who share our vision of the future.
Why You Should Support B Corps
As individuals, the greatest power we have to change the status quo is choice — choosing how we invest our time and spend our money. When you align your activities, purchases, and endorsements with your beliefs, you send a powerful message about what matters to you and what business should invest in. We hope you regularly take a bit of extra time to research who’s making the products and programs you’re using and the companies you’re working with and for. Whenever possible, we hope you support organizations who are values-aligned and a force for good (even if it takes you a bit more time and/or costs you a bit more money).
Being certified as a B Corp isn’t the only way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental impact and interdependency — but it’s a meaningful one that you can trust.