Since Roompact was founded, we’ve always tried to be a different kind of company. A company that takes care of its employees, its campus partners, and is responsible to people and planet. We also work with college and universities, and more specifically student affairs divisions and residence life departments, that expect this of us. We want to do more. We want to be even better. As a result of this commitment, Roompact is embarking on a journey to become certified as a B-Corporation. If you’re not familiar with certified B-Corps or benefit corporations, they’re a pretty awesome concept.
There are two related concepts when thinking about these types of companies: benefit corporations and B-Corp certified companies. A company can be one, or the other, or both. Being a benefit corporation is a specific legally-recognized structure for a company that empowers it to pursue social good outcomes alongside profit outcomes. A Certified B-Corp goes through a process with the third-party B-Lab non-profit and that company must meet certain social responsibility criteria in order to be certified. (Learn more about the differences and overlap between benefit corporations and certified B-Corps.)
You may recognize that some of the companies you interact with are certified B-Corps. They often display the B-Corp circular logo on their websites and products. Some of the more well known B-Corps include Patagonia, Allbrids, and Athleta. If you want other examples of B-Corps, an up-to-date listing is maintained here. In their own words, B-Lab describes B-Corps as follows…
About B Corps
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.
B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good. The values and aspirations of the B Corp community are embedded in the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence.
To become certified as a B-Corp, companies must go through an inventory, answer questions, and receive scores based on the depth of their commitment to social responsibility. The company pays a fee and it is then reviewed by a staff member at B-Labs. The criteria for becoming certified as a B-Corp can range across a number of topical areas. At their heart, these criteria attempt to evaluate items like:
- A commitment to universal design and accessibility
- Environmental responsibility–from electrical choices to purchasing decisions and the products a company makes
- Paying workers a fair wage and providing benefits that are inclusive and comprehensive
- The representation and empowerment of individuals with diverse identities and backgrounds
- Transparency in governance
- A commitment to furthering social good overall
All of these criteria are supported by a specific world-view that companies should benefit people alongside profit. In their own words, B-Lab extensively describes some of these philosophies on their website. This “declaration” is a great example:
The B-Corp Declaration Of Interdependence
We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good. This economy is comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation -Which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders. As B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:
- That we must be the change we seek in the world.
- That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
- That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
- To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.
Starting in 2021, Roompact is engaging in a concerted effort to become certified as a B-Corp. Even if we don’t ultimately achieve that certification, we recogize that the process of going through it, itself, is a valuable exercise. We want to be better and do better.
As we explore becoming certified as a B-Corp, we will be sharing some of our experiences, thoughts, and ideas right here on our blog. By practicing transparency ourselves, we hope you will hold us accountable. We also hope that by sharing our own actions and experiences, it will also give you ideas on how you can make your own departmental practices more socially responsible.