I was at our office in StartUp Lisbon when I received a message on LinkedIn from Luís Amado saying: “The Certification is yours”. This is how I first got to know what the B-Corp certification truly meant.
Being the founder of the start-up company Impact +, I saw this opportunity to contribute to differentiate ourselves, and increase our credibility, since it would also support our network of partners in developing a clear idea and awareness of what we were aiming to achieve. As it happens with every start-up with a small team (at that time we were only 3 years old), the lack of time to state all of our Regulations, to write the Code of Conduct, to index all the databases, and many other processes, were some of the realities we faced. Nevertheless, our concerns for social and environmental topics always gathered our attention regarding the products and services we developed. Being a company which its main focus is towards the Positive Impact, whilst working along with all social and environmental partners, it was one of our target goals since day one to prove it through reliable metrics that would translate this impact.
In this sense, the certification would simply certify the positive impact and work we were already executing. Even though I could be wrong, the message received from Luís Amado, was simply the beginning of a worthy, interesting and demanding journey that enabled us to rethink our internal processes and the day-to-day aspirations as professional development. It took us one and a half years to complete our certification process that resulted in a score of 86.6 points – slightly above the mandatory 80 points demanded. For us, this result still encouraged us to look at it as a long path that we still need to go through, especially in regards to our conduct and the relationship built with our different stakeholders.
But before moving forward, let me first clarify what it means to be a B-Corp. No one is better suited than the Executive Director of B Lab Europe/Portugal, Luís Amado, who is also responsible for the communication of the B-Corps in Portugal, and to whom I kindly requested a short reflection about this concept, and which I share with you as follows:
“The movement B-Corp and its Leaders’ community build its businesses in a way that ensures they are contributing towards a more inclusive and sustainable economy. They aim that their enterprises will not only be the best ones in the world but, most importantly, the best ones to the world.
The B-Corps transform the ability and power risen from the net value and its growth rate as a means to a supreme end: to generate a positive impact along with the employees, the suppliers, the community and the environment. Through this constant expedition to become an example to the world, they also reflect their efforts to guarantee that the Sustainable Development Goals will be more and more intrinsic and reflected as a fundamental basis when developing the businesses, and so that it will be more a crucial reflection of a new reality and its consequent positive effect on its surroundings.
The B-Corp Certification works as a tool to diagnose and improve the balance between the net value and purpose of the enterprise to the world. Hence, these companies have to comply with a legal requirement to consider its employees, clients, suppliers, community and environment in every decision-making process. The B-Corp does believe that the most challenging demands cannot only be solved by the Government and the ONGs. As a result, the alignment from the B-Corps is constructed so that they embedded its responsibility to ensure that through its businesses processes, either the mitigation of Inequality, the high levels of poverty, fostering towards greenish environments and stronger communities while creating employment with more quality and dignity, will be examples of priorities to consider. All in all, the efforts aiming to defend the Rights of Human Beings and the Sustainable Development Goals are a central aspect that should be replicated in every decision.
With regards to Portugal, and even though B-Corp community still does not have a significant presence in the market, its awareness and growth are becoming more expressive and dynamic and as result, it has been empowering Portugal towards the construction for a better future. In this sense, the Portuguese Community of B-Corps is a substantial example and assumes the role to influence others to enrol in this movement.
For the past year, Impact +, has been one of the B-Corps that has contributed the most of its efforts towards this representative movement, and it is also reflected along with my gratitude of approving its certification. However, important to acknowledge, that this is just the first step to a pool of a diversity of opportunities to embrace many appealing challenges and it does not only represent the end of a journey. I can honestly say that, from the way Impact + has been embracing and transforming every encounter into a positive opportunity whilst focusing its efforts to a more promising world as it also empowers other enterprises to be this optimistic change.”
Nowadays, being a certified B-Corp, we understand that the certification process is designed not only so that we can report what we have been doing but, especially, to reflect about how to deepen our comprehension concerning the different matters that require our focus to be aiming positive impact of our business and its effects on People and to the Planet.
Our goal is still far from being achieved. We are still working to enhance many aspects that need to be amended and also recreate new approaches to measure our impact. As we observe the B Impact Assessment (which enables every company to experience and assess its performance without any cost), it has always worked as a guide to enrich our processes of impact evaluation and our performance towards enabling more transparent internal parameters along with a better communication plan to communicate our mission. Also, the SDG Action Manager (created in partnership with the United Nations) is an important way that we benefit to sharpen a better connection between our products with either the international volunteer programs or CSR projects, always ensuring the alignment with the SDGs and flourishment of its awareness.
Alongside, we have been developing partnerships with other national and international B-Corps, while combining our strategical focus towards the Net Zero 2030, which is a commitment that gathers more than 500 companies around the world, and with whom we frequently share different understandings, ideas, best practices and challenges, and as a consequence, every company benefits from these perspectives to develop itself as a company and build better and innovative solutions.
Because every day, more and more clients demand that the products and services will be representative of a more conscious and sustainable approach, the business community must start realising its role to this necessary change on the way business is done. It is important to look beyond a positive return on investment. In this sense, I may finalise by inviting every company to become more informed and aware of the B-Corp Movement.
Impact+ Founder & CEO