Quick: How many Westport-based businesses are B Corp certified?
The answer: one.
A better question: What exactly is B Corp certification?
Administered by the non-profit B Lab, it’s awarded after a comprehensive assessment — from supply chain to charitable giving and employee benefits — that evaluates a company’s operations and business model impact on its workers, community, environment, and customers. B Corp certification “recognizes a company’s social and environmental performance.”
Athleta, Eileen Fisher and Patagonia are all Westport businesses with B Corp certification. Ben & Jerry’s has it too, though they are no longer downtown.
But the only truly local company with the “B” on its door and website is Impact Growth Partners.
That’s not surprising. Founded by Jenifer Gorin, the woman-run consulting firm helps companies expand their social and environmental responsibility. As part of that work, they assist clients through the rigorous B Corp assessment process.
They do it globally. But they’d love local firms to be B Corp certified too.
Any company that is “purpose-driven, and socially and environmentally conscious” can apply, says IGP consultant Kerrie McDevitt. Those businesses can provide either services or products.
“It would be great if Westport was a hub for B Corp certification,” McDevitt — who lives here with her husband and 2 children, and serves on the board of the local National Charity League — says. “It would show our commitment to environmental and social consciousness.”
B Corp certification sends an important signal to customers, potential clients and others, she says. “Many millennials and Gen Z-ers want to purchase from, and give business to, companies that care and are engaged.” Recent graduates want to work for those firms too.
A company does not need a consultant like IGP to go through the certification process, she notes. “But it is rigorous. It looks at everything from diversity and inclusion in hiring, to the representation of underserved groups in management and the supply chain, to domestic partner benefits, to the handling of environmental waste and water usage. We can help be a ‘project manager.'”
Not all companies earn certification. But just going through the process can help them learn about themselves, and assess best practices. At this fraught time in American history, many businesses are doing just that.
As for Westport, McDevitt says: “Wouldn’t it be so nice to walk through town, and see the B Corp logo on so many doors.”