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How to Create an Action Plan for B Corp Certification


This is the twelfth in a weekly series of excerpts from the new book "The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good" (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the series.

By Ryan Honeyman

Welcome to week three of the six-week, turbocharged Quick Start Guide to becoming a Certified B Corporation.

Week one focused on getting a baseline assessment of your social and environmental performance, and week two focused on motivating your team towards B Corp certification.

Week Three: Create an action plan

Time estimate: One to three hours

OBJECTIVE: After you have identified your core project team, work with them to set a target B Impact Score and create an action plan with short-, medium- and long-term goals. For example, if you started out with a score of 53, see whether you can implement enough practices to earn an additional 10 points by the end of this six-week Quick Start Guide.

END RESULT: An action plan with specific people assigned to take the lead on each question, a target B Impact Score, and a rough timeline for completion. 1. Use the improvement tools

Show your team the 'Improve Your Impact' section of the B Impact Assessment. This will contain your 'Revisit This' report, to help them see which questions you marked for follow-up on your initial pass; a customized improvement report, which will help you decide where you want to focus your efforts (based on impact area, question difficulty and question weighting); and a library of best practice guides, which will provide more detailed instructions on implementing certain practices.

2. Prioritize by difficulty

You can organize the data in the improvement report in many different ways. Initially, I suggest sorting the questions based on difficulty. Make a plan to tackle the easy- and medium-difficulty questions first. Figure out what kind of data you need in order to make progress on the assessment.

3. Delegate responsibility

For example, your human resources manager might take the lead on figuring out how to implement a job-sharing program, and your COO might start gathering data on the environmental practices of your suppliers.

4. Talk to B Lab

B Lab’s staff members are available to review your assessment, answer your questions and give you advice on how to improve your score -- even if you are not seeking B Corp certification. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

5. Submit your assessment

An assessment review is a key part of the B Corp certification process. On this call, B Lab’s staff will review each of your responses with you. The goal is to give you a better understanding of the intent behind each question and an idea of what it would take to implement that practice. Most businesses find that they make adjustments to their answers after they receive clarification from a B Lab staff member. Any representative of your company (e.g., an executive, an associate or an intern) can complete this assessment review call.

Ryan's Tip: I encourage you to use the 'Improve Your Impact' report to identify the point value of the different questions on the B Impact Assessment. If it would take a lot of time and effort to earn points on a particular question, make sure it is worthwhile to undertake this. If it is not, then click on 'Not Tracked/Unknown' and move on. Your total score on the assessment may not be as high, but you will keep your momentum. It is not worth bending over backward to answer every question and identify every piece of data.

Coming next week: Week Four: Implement Your Improvements

Image credit: B Lab

Ryan Honeyman is a sustainability consultant, executive coach, keynote speaker, and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good. Ryan helps businesses save money, improve employee satisfaction, and increase brand value by helping them maximize the value of their sustainability efforts, including helping companies certify and thrive as B Corps. His clients include Ben & Jerry’s, Klean Kanteen, Nutiva, McEvoy Ranch, Opticos Design, CleanWell, Exygy, and the Filene Research Institute.

To get exclusive updates and free resources about the B Corp movement, sign up for Ryan’s monthly newsletter. You can also visit honeymanconsulting.com or follow Ryan on Twitter:@honeymanconsult.


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