Before we delve into some great reasons why your company should not become a B Corp, let’s acknowledge a true fact: B Corps are cool right now. They’re cool because they’re rebels within the system – companies on a mission to fundamentally disrupt capitalism into becoming a lean, mean, human nurturing, earth protecting machine that serves all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
But there’s a catch. It's difficult to consider all stakeholders all of the time. Much more difficult than only caring about profit. It requires 10x more emotional and physical labour to build the required systems, codify new values and track and improve your impact over time.
So even though it’s cool, maybe think twice before becoming a B Corp. Because it will demand hard work and introspection from you. It will demand you invest resources into projects and processes that do not yield a profit. And it will definitely test your patience.
We recently finished the process of becoming an accredited B Corp at Paper Moose, so it’s still fresh in our minds. Here are four great reasons you should almost definitely not apply to become a B Corp.
B Corp certification in Australia means to be accredited by B Lab, a not-for-profit organisation who have onboarded over 410 B Corps in Australia and 4900 worldwide. Impressive.
But they face a problem: you can’t just let anyone into the B Corp cool club. So B Lab have made their accreditation process rigorous and comprehensive, that is to say long and difficult, seemingly on purpose to test your resolve.
It starts with a gruelling self assessment and ends with a nerve-wracking audit. You have to attain a score of 80 from a byzantine buffet of requirements. Fall under 80 points during the audit? You fail.
Without sugar coating it, the process takes months of work, which in combination with B Lab’s stretched audit resources means the process could take you over a year to complete. It took us over a year and a half. Who’s got time for that?
Being a B Corp requires a lot of administration. First there’s the record keeping. Then there’s the tracking. Then there’s the training and implementation and reporting. It takes serious hours sunk into unglamorous, raw admin. And those hours are dollars my friend.
But that’s not all. Maximising profits is a simple game, and by definition cost saving. Tracking community and environmental impacts inevitably requires investing in things that don’t turn a profit: charity, environmental conservation and local purchasing premiums to name but a few.
Yes you might attract more customers by flying the B Corp banner, but those profits will most likely be absorbed into worthwhile initiatives such as the employee profit share scheme we set up at Paper Moose.
Yes, things like this are great for people and our local communities, but think of all those lost profits! Sad.
Do you wake up in the morning and leap out of bed, excited to continue work on your company’s comprehensive multi-factor carbon tracking spreadsheet? If yes, then boy do I have great news for you: there’s a lot more of that in your very near future. Because to make any meaningful change in the world, you apparently need to put it in a spreadsheet.
So throw caution to the wind and lean into your new life. Your new life as a spreadsheet wrangler. Nay, a spreadsheet lord.
Companies are psychopaths. They go about their day without care or consideration for others, solely focused on their personal gain – and they’ll do anything within the constraints of society to get their way.
Making your company a B Corp is like turning on an empathy module in the brain of this psychopath. After a moment of existential vertigo, they’ll suddenly feel the crushing weight of responsibility that empathy brings.
The B Corp framework turns your company into an empath who is sensitive and aware of its impacts in regards to everyone and everything, all of the time. These are often intangible things that are difficult to track. Like the societal value of supporting a local business, or the far reaching socioeconomic benefits of advocating and hiring for diversity.
Yes you can track elements of these things in quantitative and qualitative ways, but the full richness of your impact may be elusive at times, and that can be tricky for people who are used to living and dying by the sword of their P&L.
In a nutshell, if you wait a couple of years, it could become a lot easier to become a B Corp.
In the US, there is a legal entity called a ‘Benefit Corporation’. If you want to become a B Corp, all you have to do is incorporate one. Job done. Not so in Australia, despite B Lab’s commendable efforts to get a new law enshrined in 2020. Being a ‘B Corp’ in Australia means to be certified by B Lab.
If you wait long enough, most likely something like a Benefit Corporation will be enshrined in Australian law, meaning you could technically establish a fresh new B Corp entity within hours, not months or years.
Sometimes it pays to be lazy, am I right?
In all seriousness, advocating for your company to become a B Corp is probably one of the most important things you could do with your business.
Speaking from our experience of running Paper Moose through the B Lab certification process, we can confidently say that it will change your organisation for the better on every level by deprioritising your organisation’s pathological drive for profit into a more nuanced and balanced drive for success on all fronts.
So please, advocate for your business to become a B Corp regardless. Next to the benefits, any great reason not to become a B Corp is irrelevant.