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Accountable Accounting: How to Become a B Corp

May 12, 2022

Research from Accenture suggests that 53% of UK consumers value ethics when working with a business, which can lead to increased trust. Clients lean on accountants to remain compliant and financially healthy, so considering their values can help maintain strong relationships. 

Obtaining a B Corp Certification is a great way to show your accounting firm aims to minimise its social and environmental impact. 

In this article, we’ll cover how to become a certified B Corp. Then, we'll offer a step-by-step guide to obtaining this certification and how doing so can benefit accounting firms.

What Are B Corps?

B Corporations are certified by the non-profit organisation B Lab. This organisation provides third-party services to assess companies' ethics, focusing on overall social and environmental impact. 

If a company becomes a certified B Corp, it demonstrates that it values and abides by high ethical standards, including:

  • High social and environmental performance as scored by the B Lab
  • Transparency as they openly share their ethical practices 
  • A legal commitment that proves their commitment to the cause
  • A clear continued priority of environmental and social ethics before profits   

This label can hold firms accountable for their impact on the world. To learn more on this, check out our article discussing the role of accountants in combating climate change.

What Are the Benefits of Becoming B Corp Certified as an Accounting Firm?

Becoming a certified B Corp offers substantial benefits for accounting firms. Let’s look at a few main advantages to consider. 

Brand Dependability and Publicity

Research from Sage suggests that 90% of accountants believe there has been a cultural shift in the industry, which will impact practices and ethics. So, B Corp Certified accounting firms can strengthen brand dependability and build good publicity that may lead to stronger client relationships and greater business opportunities. 

Transparency

B Corporations must publicly disclose evidence of their practices and overall impact to stakeholders. So, this certification increases ethical transparency, promoting trust and honesty within an accounting firm. 

Even more, 58% of respondents from a Deloitte survey expected organisations to make changes that lessen their environmental impact. So, clients who prioritise these values will feel more comfortable working with your accounting firm.  

Future Proofing

The B Corp status holds organisations accountable for maintaining high ethical standards. As sustainability is crucial in protecting the planet's future, prioritising it can bolster accounting firms and prepare them for the future.

How Can Your Accounting Firm Become a Certified B Corp?

Becoming a certified B Corp can help solidify client loyalty, express core values, and prepare accounting firms for the future. Read on to find a step-by-step process. 

1.Become a Pending B Corp

To qualify for B Corp certification, a firm must operate for over a year with full-time employees. But, newer accounting firms can show their dedication by becoming Pending B Corps, which offers a partial verification. You can apply for full status once your firm qualifies. 

To become a Pending B Corp, contact your local B Lab or B Sistema organisation

2. Set Up an Account

If your firm is already eligible for B Corp status, you can begin by registering for a B Lab account and the B Impact Assessment. You may also want to locate your local branch for support. Once you’ve set this up, you can begin your journey to certification. 

You may also want to the check out the pathway to certification guide that more closely applies to your business for more extensive instructions:

3. Meet the Legal Requirements

Organisations must comply with specific legal requirements to earn B Corp status, including stakeholder governance. This governance structure requires corporations to consider how their operational decisions impact stakeholders. 

The Legal Requirement Tool will help you determine if your firm meets these requirements and what you may need to do.

4. Complete a Risk Review and Gather your Data

B Corporations must also undergo a risk review and gather data to present their current social and environmental impact. This process prepares you for the upcoming Impact Assessment as it can help you assess ethical risk within your operations. 

Look at the standards set out by B Lab to learn what information you'll need to collect before your Impact Assessment. 

5. Do the B Impact Assessment

The B Impact Assessment is possibly the most critical step in earning this certification. This assessment is an opportunity to report your firm's ethical impact in detail, achieve a score that measures that impact, and find ways to improve it to reach B Corp eligibility. 

6. Submit Your Impact Assessment and Await Certification

You’ll need to score over 80 points in the B Impact Assessment to submit it for review. If you score below this number, you can use the assessment as a guide to improve your business practices and earn a higher score in the future.   

After submitting a B Impact Assessment above the benchmark score, your firm will enter a queue to await certification. This waiting period may take about six to eight months before firms earn certification. 

7. Launch Your B Corp

Once you earn certification, you can announce this status to the public and stakeholders to show your firm is dedicated to ethical practices. You might share this via social media and send out a newsletter. 

8. Recertify Every Three Years

To prove you've maintained these standards, your firm will need to recertify B Corp status every three years. You can submit recertification through your B Impact Assessment account. Also, be sure to maintain updated and transparent records of ethical practices.

Prepare for the Future of your Accounting Firm with INAA

Here at INAA, we connect accounting firms who aim to deliver quality professional services around a shared vision to make global business personal, and take personal business global. 

With every industry change, our collaborative association of international businesses is committed to driving the conversation around auditing and accounting.

Join today to start building powerful business relationships.