BCorp Certified


Becoming a B Corp

Rohan Trollope January 2024

While the mission of B Corp is simple – making business a force for good – the process of B Corp Certification is complex. Anna Carlile talks about the experience with her mentor on the journey, Alison Michalk.

B Corp certification is given to businesses that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. It’s a lengthy and detailed process that involves an impact assessment, reaching a required business impact score and undergoing verification by B Lab. Design by Nature recently achieved certification with an overall B Impact Score of 94.8.


Anna, let’s start with the reason you wanted Design by Nature to be certified.

Anna: The studio has always been in the sustainable space, but I felt It was important to have an external certification to authentically and independently demonstrate what we are doing. I see B Corp as a global certification for businesses committed to being the best they can be, environmentally and socially.

What I found during the process was it was also informative about how we can improve what we’re doing with tangible ways to implement additional measures.


And Alison, as someone who advises businesses like Anna’s on the path certification, how do you describe B Corp?

Alison: When I talk about Bcorp, I say it’s the highest standard of social and environmental responsibility in the world. It’s a holistic framework, so it’s great at shining a spotlight on the things that you do well as well as where you can improve. That could be everything from what you pay your lowest-paid workers to reducing your carbon emissions.


Anna, what did the process reveal for you?

Anna: I felt that our environmental impacts, behaviours and procurement policies were already pretty solid. B Corp certification tightened it up and made me look at other areas. For example, I had a default bank account with one of the big banks, which I moved, and I moved superannuation to Australian Ethical. The biggest thing for me was the policies because it’s not in my nature to write or have policies for anything. To have everything documented was a really good process.

Alison: Some people come to B Corp and are not very impact-driven, so they use the process to become more impact-driven. However, in Anna’s case, her business has been impact-driven from the beginning. This provides external credibility with a stamp of approval from B Corp.


How long did certification take?

Anna: About a year. It was throughout lockdown, so we had additional time. I started initially by doing information sessions with B Corp, and it was overwhelming. Then someone recommended Alison, who was just fantastic. She walked me through every single step of the process. She’s an incredible businessperson, very intelligent, savvy and ethical. Without a consultant or Alison specifically, I would never have gotten through it.

Alison: I do say it’s like a trial-by-fire initiation process becoming a B Corp.

For me, the hard part is implementing that change in your business. So, you can have a template that says you are breastfeeding-friendly, but what does that mean if you don’t create a workplace where people feel genuinely comfortable about taking breaks to breastfeed? That takes a cultural shift, setting up a room and how you communicate it. The hard work is implementing the changes, not just creating a policy.


Alison, what’s your advice for businesses considering becoming a B Corp?

Alison: I encourage businesses of all sizes to use the B Corp framework because you don’t have to pay. You can access the tools for free online as the B Corp movement understands that not everyone’s going to be able to get through this process or pay, but they’ve put all the questions there, and you can start using it tomorrow. It’s such a great roadmap for business.


You must work with a wide range of businesses.

Alison: That’s what is so inspiring for me about B Corp: meeting so many people who aren’t just money-driven. They’re thinking about how they can drive change. And I’ve always found it to be such a non-competitive space, which I love. Everyone’s willing to pick up the phone, tell you what they’re doing, email you and share things.


Anna, have you connected with other B Corps since becoming certified?

Anna: Yes, when I moved studios, actually – my neighbour is a B Corp! There’s a sort of automatic respect for anyone who has gone through it. And whenever you need to engage someone, you can use the B Corp network feeling confident. We’ve also had clients approach us through the network. Ultimately, it provides credibility and reassurance.

I’m proud to have it. I think that comes from the amount of effort to be certified. And after 25 years, it’s really good to have something that holds us to account.


And Anna, what would your message be to anyone considering certification?

Anna: I would encourage all to consider it. Start by looking at the free tools, watch the information sessions and find a consultant like Alison to help walk you through it. It is an investment of time, but I think the rewards are there. It’s definitely a worthwhile process.

While Design by Nature’s overall B Impact Score of 94.8 is higher than the 80 required to earn certification (and the median score of 50.9) this isn’t the end of the journey. Businesses need to re-certify at regular intervals, and Anna is determined to improve the studio’s impact.

Read more about how the numbers break down at B Corp.

Related Journal posts