No doubt you’ve seen brands and businesses proudly proclaiming their B Corp certifications, and their sustainability and ethical credentials as a result. But when there’s a bunch of other badges that claim to be doing good, why is B Corp status particularly meaningful?

“B Corps are businesses that voluntarily step up to be accountable for their impact … on people, planet and communities,” Angie Farrugia tells Broadsheet. She’s the director of communications and engagement for Australia and New Zealand at B Lab, the non-profit behind B Corp certifications. “We’re seeing lots of organisations becoming part of this [B Corp] movement who recognise that business has a really important role to play in our environment and society.”

Being granted B Corp certification means the company’s entire social and environmental footprint – from employee benefits and corporate social responsibility to transparency and sustainable practices – has been measured and independently assessed by one of B Lab’s analysts. They consider things like energy and water use, offsetting greenhouse carbon emissions, a code of ethics within management, diversity in the ownership of suppliers a business works with, a commitment to justice and inclusion, and more.

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The growing, globally recognised certification program first started in 2006 in the US. It came to Australia and New Zealand in 2012, and now B Lab operates in over 90 countries and across 160 industries. “There’s nearly 9000 B Corps worldwide,” Farrugia says. “In Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, we have just over 700 B Corps that are certified.”

Household name B Corps include Aesop, Who Gives a Crap and Keep Cup. More recently, Aussie Broadband, PE Nation, Rip Curl, Modibodi, Sheet Society and Heaps Normal have received the B Corp tick. There are also a growing number of professional and financial services joining the movement.

Farrugia says that in a world full of uncertainty and difficult times – and thanks to widespread greenwashing – trust is hard won and now customers expect more. “It’s really hard to know who’s actually walking the walk, not just talking the talk,” Farrugia says. “One of the ways [certified] B Corps can do that is being able to demonstrate they have met these high standards that B Lab certifies them for, and that they’ve gone through a rigorous process of assessing their whole business.”

B Corps are catching the attention of conscious consumers, and B Corp certification attracts and retains talent, too. Farrugia says recent research shows 55 per cent of Australians say that certifications influence their purchase and employment decision-making.

B Lab’s AANZ Melbourne-based team of 15 work out of The Commons’ Wellington Street location in Collingwood, helping businesses along their journey to get certified and “shifting the behaviour of business”.

The Commons itself is a B Corp certified workspace collective that’s home to many B Corps like Who Gives a Crap, design agency Today, Goodtel telecommunications, plant-based-meat producer v2Food, and Ooni portable pizza ovens. “The versatility of the space appealed to us, as did the strong value alignment demonstrated through their B Corp Certification,” Farrugia says. “When we heard about the new building at 54 Wellington Street being a hive for B Corps, we were drawn to it even more.”