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What Is a Certified B Corp & Why Does This Certification Matter?

What Is a Certified B Corp & Why Does This Certification Matter?
What Is a Certified B Corp & Why Does This Certification Matter?

In October 2018, Gaia Herbs accomplished one of our proudest feats to date: we became a Certified B Corporation®, joining over 3,500 companies in more than 70 countries worldwide, committed to using business as a force for good™.

What is a B Corp?

For those that are unfamiliar with this term, a Certified B Corporation, or B Corp as it is commonly referred to, is a for-profit company that meets the highest level of third-party verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose. This is a new kind of business that uses profit as a means to an end: supporting positive impact for employees, the communities that they work in, and the environment that they steward.

How Does a Company Become a B Corp?

Gaia Herbs Farmer in fields

According to the Certified B Corporation website, B Corps must adhere to a set of values outlined in its Declaration of Interdependence. According to the declaration, B Corporations and leaders of the purpose-driven global economy believe:

  • That B Corps must be the change we seek in the world.
  • That all business ought to be conducted as if people and places matter.
  • That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
  • That B Corps act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.

To become a Certified B Corp, companies must complete an Impact Assessment to measure and score their impact on people and the planet. This assessment is a rigorous analysis of a company's impact across its entire operations, including employee relations, customers, community impact, and environmental stewardship. A company must score at least an 80 across all impact areas to become a Certified B Corp.

Gaia Herbs’ B Impact Assessment is being used as a framework to guide our future sustainability work, with a goal to keep growing our overall positive impact as a company and to steadily increase our B Impact Score over time.

In addition to the Impact Assessment, B Corporations must also amend their governing documents or adopt a corporate form that explicitly requires the consideration of all stakeholders, not just shareholders, in their decision-making. This includes employee well-being, suppliers, customers, and a company’s ecological footprint. This legal change can be done immediately or within two years of achieving certification.

Why Does B Corp Certification Matter?

B Corp Certification provides a way for people to easily identify companies that are dedicated to making a positive difference and have committed to policies that make a beneficial impact. Unfortunately, there is a lot of greenwashing happening these days and companies that actively advertise participating in good works that protect the planet, but without actually doing the work.

B Corp Certification is a trust mark for consumers that shows a company is actively investing time and dollars and implementing policies and procedures to use their business as a force for good.

As Angela McElwee, President of Gaia Herbs, notes, “Brands must make a choice about what they stand for, and simply selling a high-quality product is no longer enough. B Corp Certification offers the consumer a trust mark, signaling a commitment beyond product integrity, to include environment, community and employees all as valued stakeholders. Gaia has modeled these tenets from our humble beginnings, over 30 years ago, and is honored to be amongst this small group of conscious organizations in the U.S. and around the world that have obtained B Corp Certification.”

Gaia Herbs Journey as a B Corp

Gaia Herbs Farmer holding freshly harvested oats

As a company that has been committed to sustainability since our founding in 1987, many of our core values naturally align with the B Corp community: respect for nature, transparency, and an obligation to do the least harm as possible, to both people and the planet.

Our purpose of connecting plants, people, and planet to create healing has been a guiding principle for Gaia Herbs over the last 30 years. Making the commitment to increased accountability and transparency through our B Corp Certification has been both transformative and inspiring for our business in just the two years that we have been a part of the B Corp community.

With our re-certification coming up in 2021, we reflected back on our journey of the past few years to become a B Corp. One thing that we highly appreciate about the B Corp community and the certification process is that there is no “final destination” – B Corp companies recognize that there is always more positive work to be done and this is a continuous, lifelong journey.

B Corp Companies Helping to Protect Our Planet

Just a few short months after being certified, Gaia Herbs joined a group of over 35 leading B Corp companies in Taos, New Mexico, for a B Leadership Summit to develop and share a short- and long-term collective action plan to address the threats of climate change.

All of the companies that attended this summit recognize the unique and powerful role that businesses play to reverse climate change. We came out of the summit as a newly formed B Corp Climate Collective, with a vision statement, an initial six-month action plan, a 10-year vision, and formed five Action Groups to work on key issues around climate change. This Collective continues to meet annually and has grown to include additional B Corp companies from around the world.

B Corp Companies Sharing Their Knowledge for the Greater Good

The learnings that other B Corps have shared with Gaia Herbs have been invaluable. There is a spirit of collaboration and purpose within the B Corp community – fellow B Corps truly want to assist other B Corps in our collective journey to use business as a force for good. Our friends at Dr. Bronner’s, Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, New Belgium Brewing, and All Good are just a few examples of B Corp companies that have all shared invaluable lessons and inspirations that have shaped our business for the better.

In Western NC, there is also a vibrant B Corp community group, called B Local Asheville + WNC,  which has been another inspiring group to be a part of, as its mission is for local B Corps to come together to support companies considering B Corp Certification through events, mentorship, and resources. This group believes that the more companies in the area that make this commitment to becoming a B Corp and upholding the standards of third-party certification, the greater the positive impact our collective business community will be able to make as a whole.

We would be remiss to not also recognize the wonderful staff at B Lab, the non-profit certifying body for B Corporations. The resources that this team has developed to assist companies in continually improving their B Corp B Impact Score year over year is incredibly thorough and has served as a playbook for our company. With their help, Gaia Herbs has been able to build strategies that will have both positive social and environmental benefits, as well as bring significant value to our overall business.

Looking to the Future

Gaia Herbs Assistant Farm Manager in fields

We knew that becoming a Certified B Corporation would be a major milestone for Gaia Herbs that would be beneficial in many ways, as well as something that every employee at our company would be proud of.

What we did not anticipate or appreciate when going through the certification process is just how transformative and impactful the B Corp community would be, both the team at B Lab and all of the companies who share B Corp Certification.

The B Corp community is one that cares deeply about doing the right thing. It is a movement that leaves no one behind. This community has left us inspired, hopeful, and striving for better, and we now have 3,500+ other companies that we can call on for help, inspiration, and troubleshooting. To the B Lab Community and all B Corps out there: thank you for your dedication in building a movement that is shaping the world into a healthier, more vibrant place to be. We are so proud to be a part of this community.

Discover other B Corp companies and learn more about the B Corp Certification process.