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

Published on November 25, 2020

By Gaia Herbs

Gaia Herbs

In October 2018, Gaia Herbs accomplished one of our proudest feats to date: we became a Certified B Corporation®, joining more than 3,500 companies in more than 70 countries worldwide committed to using business as a force for good™. Today, the movement has grown across 90 countries, with over 6,700 companies certified as a B Corp®.

What is a B Corp?

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.

B Corps are 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.

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.

How Does a Company Become a B Corp?

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. Companies then undergo recertification every three years, using the same impact assessment.

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. In 2022, Gaia Herbs amended our governing and legal documents to be a Public Benefit Corporation, which is a big deal! This means that we are “mission locked” and are legally required to report on our impact – profit is the necessary fuel for doing more good in the world, but equally important are measuring our impact on people and the planet.

Why Does B Corp Certification Matter?

B Corp Certification provides a way for people to easily identify companies dedicated to making a positive difference and committed to policies that make a beneficial impact. Unfortunately, there is a lot of greenwashing happening these days, with companies actively advertising environmentally friendly works without any true action.

B Corp Certification is a mark of trust for consumers, showing a company is actively investing time and money, and implementing policies and procedures, with the goal of using their business as a force for good.

“B Corp is centered on standards and transparency, two things that have been at the center of Gaia Herbs’ business for 35 years,” said Jim Geikie, CEO, Gaia Herbs. “B Corp ensures the standards for good governance, responsible environmental practices, and community engagement are appropriately high. The rigor in the certification process ensures words are matched with action in a highly transparent way. We are proud to be part of this global community of companies, including 77 in our home state of North Carolina.”

Gaia Herbs Journey as a B Corp

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 35 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.

In 2021, we re-certified as a B Corp with a score of 81.7. We are proud of the work we have done to maintain and grow our B Corp status, but the work has just begun! Areas of strength included our governance structure, employee benefits like free, organic, farm-fresh lunches and produce during the growing season. Areas to focus on include collaborating with more suppliers (we have over 80, so it is no small feat) to ensure ethical trading practices. This area is part of our overall corporate goals and public benefit reporting, and look forward to growing our impact here.

B Corp Companies Helping to Protect Our Planet

Just a few short months after being certified, Gaia Herbs joined a group of more than 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 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 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

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 6,500+ 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.