It’s easy for any business to slap an environmental pledge or DEI commitment on an “About Us” part of the website. But for Nathan A. Stuck, “it’s hard to differentiate between a well-intentioned social impact plan and a really good marketing campaign.”
But more local businesses — ranging from tech startups to consumer goods companies — are using the B Corp certification process to make that differentiation to customers and employees alike.
Not to be confused with the legal status granted as a Benefit Corporation, B Corp is a designation from a third-party organization and is earned by companies based on social and environmental performance, public transparency, corporate citizenship, and legal accountability. The idea is to redefine what it means to be a “good business” that balances profits and purpose.
The process typically takes 6-8 months, according to B Lab Global. Over 4,000 companies across the world have gone through the certification process to date. And while many are on the consumer products, tech companies are seeing the benefit of transparent reporting.
The certification is now more than just a ‘nice to have’ for these tech firms; it is used as an active recruiting tool for businesses looking for younger, more engaged talent.
That shift is something Stuck has seen firsthand. Not only does he work for a consulting firm that is a certified B Corp, but he also leads B Local Georgia, an organization of local companies going through the certification process.
“Companies that have big ambitious growth plans and need to hire Gen Zs and Millennials are starting to realize they need to be clear with their social purpose,” Stuck told Hypepotamus. “As Gen Z enters the workforce and the market as employees and customers, they are saying ‘I’m not gonna leave my values at the door. I want purpose. I don’t mind doing a routine job. I just want to know that the company stands for something that we do something in the community that I can volunteer my time that my company sees me as a person and not a number.’”
THE RISE OF THE TECH-BASED GEORGIA B CORPS
20 Georgia-based companies have earned this certificate with more expected to finish up the process this spring, according to Stuck. On the tech side, businesses like InsurTech startup Decisely, Goodr, Rubicon, EnrichHer, and Dragon Army are all on the list.
The university system has been central to what Stuck describes as B Corps becoming more of a “mainstream movement.”
Emory’s business school now offers a Directed Study course for students to learn about B Corps and ultimately work as a consultant to Atlanta-based businesses looking to earn the certification.
Stuck himself teaches and leads the B Corps class at UGA’s Terry College of Business, where MBAs and sustainability undergrads come together to help local businesses throughout the B Corp process. Kennesaw State University also held a B Corp Clinic this semester on campus.
That groundswell of university and corporate support might just help usher in an entirely new way of thinking about building local businesses moving forward.