March 30, 2021
March is B Corp Month and, for us at Salt Spring Coffee, it is also a time to look back at how being a B Corp has pushed us to become a more sustainable and socially minded company.
We are proud to have been the first company in B.C. (and the third in Canada) to become a Certified B Corporation all the way back in 2010. However, we realize that many consumers still don’t know what this certification is or why they should support companies that have it, so we wanted to shed some light on what it means to be a B Corp and why we have been one for the past eleven years.
What Is a B Corp?
B Corps are companies that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. They balance making money with making a positive impact on society. Together, B Corps are part of a broader movement of companies that seek to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
To become a Certified B Corporation, companies have to undergo triannual assessments that look at how their products, practices and profits impact their workers, customers, community and the environment. Only companies that achieve a high enough score on their B Corp impact assessment will receive certification. Besides us, some other well-known B Corps are Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s as well as local companies like Vancity, Traction on Demand, Mills and Persephone Brewing.
Why Did Salt Spring Coffee Become a B Corp?
Flourishing with our communities from crop to cup (i.e. being a socially and environmentally responsible company) has always been important to us and becoming a B Corp allowed us to formalize many of the good things that we were already doing and provided us with the framework and inspiration to do even more. The rigour of the certification process combined with triannual renewals means that we have really had to embed the B Corp mindset into our entire decision-making process. It has forced us to track our progress on meeting our commitments and made us more accountable as an organization.
“While we are proud that our coffee is organic and fair trade, we recognize that these certifications only apply to our products. The B Corp certification, on the other hand, applies to our entire company – from our business practices and how we treat our employees to the impact we have on the environment and the communities in which we operate.” – Mickey McLeod, Co-Founder & CEO of Salt Spring Coffee
What Changes Did Salt Spring Coffee Have to Make to Become a B Corp?
Many of the things that we were already doing – like only buying organic coffee and ensuring fair treatment and compensation for farmers – counted towards our score. From there, we made additional changes like bringing in waste reduction targets, creating a plan to increase the proportion of our energy that comes from renewable resources, providing a well-rounded benefit program for our employees, and using local and/or B Corp suppliers as much as possible. We also had to embed our commitment to making a positive impact on society within the articles of incorporation of our company.
Why Should Consumers Support B Corps?
At a time when greenwashing is becoming more and more prevalent, B Corp certification keeps companies honest and provides transparency for consumers. Each B Corp’s impact area scores are publicly available online allowing consumers to compare them and track their change over time.
Given the problems facing our world – climate change, inequality, corporate greed – it’s easy to feel like you can’t change a lot, but you can change who you buy from. By supporting B Corps, you are voting with your wallet on the type of companies, economy and world that you want to see in the future.