On Thursday, WeSpire announced the exciting news that we are now a Certified B Corporation. For those of you not familiar with B Corp certification, it’s a rigorous third party review process to evaluate how well a company is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on environmental, social and governance factors. Some incredibly well known brands are B Corps, from Patagonia and Seventh Generation to AllBirds and Danone.
In order to achieve certification, a company must:
- Achieve a B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and pass a risk review. WeSpire scored 119, which is one of the highest scores in the tech category.
- Make a legal commitment by changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders, not just shareholders, and achieve benefit corporation status if available in their jurisdiction.
- Exhibit transparency by allowing information about their performance measured against B Lab’s standards to be publicly available on their B Corp profile on B Lab’s website. You can check out WeSpire’s profile here.
What is not stated in the announcement is what a long, winding journey it has been for us to get certified. WeSpire was founded before Delaware, where most companies intending to raise capital incorporate, supported Public Benefit Corporations as an option. So we were founded as a C Corp.
We first completed a B Corp assessment in 2011. But we never were officially certified because by the time we got through the process and were ready, Delaware supported the Public Benefit Corporation option. To be certified, we would need to convert. For us, the legal expense to convert just wasn’t doable at the time. So we operated “in accordance with the principles”, but never were officially certified.
A little more than two years ago, we were finally ready. We were going to need to go to shareholders for legal approval of a funding round so the incremental expense of converting to a Public Benefit Corp wasn’t high. We had the internal resources to support the rigorous review. Most critically, as our business was expanding across all categories of environmental and social impact engagement, it felt important to “officially” walk the walk. We’d started to see RFPs asking if we were a Certified B Corp and it was painful to not be able to say yes. The process took until now largely because so many companies want to be B Corps that the team at B Lab, the certifying organization, is busy.
WeSpire spends most of our time with people who work in impact, social responsibility, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, communications and human resources. But we are fundamentally a technology company. So I chose to announce our certification from the stage at the SaaSOpen, a large convener of founders and executives from the world of cloud software, many who have no idea what a B Corporation is. No idea that they can be a B Corp too. You don’t have to have a product like ours that is very aligned with B Corp principles. It is about the way the business is run, how the team is treated, how it uses energy and treats the environment.
What’s required to be a Certified B Corp is rigorous, but it starts with what you believe. That business can and should be a force for good in this world. That your employees matter. That operating sustainably offers competitive advantages. That community impact should weigh into decision-making. That good governance and transparency are paramount.
Most importantly, it’s believing wholeheartedly that sustainable business is better business. While we’ve always believed that, because we’ve waited, there is a silver lining. The data proves it now too.
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Impact Engagement Pioneer WeSpire is now a Certified B Corporation
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