In January 2020, I had just joined Affinity Bridge and was having lunch with Mack at our local lunch spot. We talked about the opportunity to become a B Corp and agreed that it would be a natural next step for Affinity Bridge. It made sense given that Mack had founded the agency 15 years earlier based on the desire to do purposeful work in the digital space.
Fast forward a year. The pandemic hit and impacted all of our lives in ways that we couldn’t have imagined. Our B Corp plans were set aside while we focused on supporting our team and clients, but come 2021, we decided it was time to make our move.
The first logical step was to find a consultant that could help guide us through our certification journey. While taking the time to document our policies and procedures, we navigated the requirements of the application process with the help of some specialists in our community. Ultimately, we hired Impact Growth Partners in December 2021. With weekly working sessions and full visibility into our B Impact Assessment (BIA), which showed how our efforts were impacting our score, our consultant shared invaluable knowledge and support, and quickly guided us over the finish line. We submitted our application just two months later.
[Bonus: Impact Growth Partners also hosted free monthly knowledge-sharing events with their community of clients, facilitating conversations with subject matter experts across a range of topics, from social impact to carbon accounting to how to build an anti-racist organization. After submitting our application, I appreciated having the ongoing learning opportunities].
Over the rest of 2022, we worked in the B Impact Assessment platform to address verification questions as they arose, before ultimately being asked to schedule the much-anticipated review call. The call was booked on shorter notice than I had expected - there was about a week from the invitation to the meeting date. The analyst who met with us was familiar with our file, and the questions she asked were clear. We were left with just a couple of small items to verify and tasks to complete. At the same time, we also completed the process of legally becoming a Benefit Corporation. In February 2023, we received notice of our certification and score of 102.3, about two years after we started on this journey.
From chatting with folks from other newly minted B Corps, it sounds like 1-2 years from start to certification was typical at the time, though it varies depending on your business and the volume of submissions needing to be processed in a given timeframe. For us, there were some quiet periods along the way while we were waiting our turn. We’re a decentralized digital agency with fewer than 30 folks on our team, so without the considerations that come with having a physical office or a supply chain, most of the work we needed to do was preparing and updating documentation upfront.
If you are considering becoming a B Corp, and what I have shared about Affinity Bridge reminds you of your organization, then perhaps you’ll find these takeaways from our experience helpful.
What I learned
- If your organization already has a lot of processes and policies documented, you have a great head start
- Work with a consultant who understands your business model, sees you as a partner in the process, and provides guidance with full transparency
- Access to your B Impact Assessment (BIA) platform from the outset is essential for visibility into your progress
- A weekly session with your consultant makes it easy to work through tasks and questions together
- Block time in your calendars for you and any colleagues supporting the application process, so you have time secured to work on documentation and correspondence
- Be optimistic but also realistic about what you can commit to as an organization and invest your energy accordingly
- Have an internal B Corp champion who is accountable to ensure work is progressing so that you’re always ready for the next request in the process
- The B Corp journey doesn’t end with certification; certification is just the beginning
Since becoming a certified B Corp, we have been flooded with emails, opportunities and insights that are much bigger than what I ever would have expected to gain access to. There is a large and growing community of folks committed to making “business a force for good”.
We continue to challenge ourselves to be better and because recertification happens every three years, we’ll be held publicly accountable for the promises we’ve made.
- Impact Growth Partners
- Overview of the Certification process
- B Lab + B Corporation Movement
- Find a B Corp
- Why Become a B Corp
- Introductory Course designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the B Corp movement and B Corp Certification
- BC Registry Services regarding incorporating a Benefit Company