In an industry full of certifications for product and brand sustainability, it can be difficult to navigate which ones are right for your organization. While intentions for each certification are good, some processes are more comprehensive than others. The rigorous B Corporation certification standards set by third party B Lab clearly define holistic, impact-focused practices in business.
Since our inception, THRIVE Farmers has existed for one thing — to empower farmers. The world’s coffee farmers are subject to an unpredictable and volatile commodities market that robs farmers of stability and a higher income. Our farmer-direct, revenue-sharing model empowers farmers around the globe by taking them to market as partners where they obtain real value for their work. That is why we exist, and everything we do flows through this core purpose.
We knew our model was successful because of the change we saw in our coffee-farming families and communities, but we lacked a forum and third-party certification platform that would appropriately measure and communicate the success of our strategy. Through the B Corp application and certification process, we gained a platform that looks at an entire company and its impact, not just the product we bring to market. It is much more than a sticker on a bag.
According to B Lab, the B Corp movement is “a global movement of people using business as a force for good, so that one day all companies compete to be best for the world, and society enjoys a shared and durable prosperity.” To receive this certification, an organization must examine every aspect of its practices, ensuring it meets tough standards of overall social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
Why is meeting a standard set by a third party helpful in understanding your own company's mission? And how can partnering with others that meet the same standard augment your impacts?
As a newly certified B Corporation in the coffee sphere, THRIVE Farmers has learned a lot through the process of pursuing and achieving this certification. Here are a few reasons we believe meeting these standards can help provide insight into your own brand’s practices and help you achieve maximum impact as your brand pursues partnerships with others.
Examining your brand’s true impact on the world
Before evaluating your global impact, you must determine your brand’s greater purpose in the world. Why do you exist? Is it simply to create a product people want to buy, or is it to affect change environmentally, socially or economically? Use your core values as the lens through which you consider every company-wide decision.
When the end justifies the means of producing a high-end product that appeals to consumers, the most important asset to a company — its people — can often be neglected. When you focus on elevating the quality of relationships with all of your stakeholders (farmers, employees and customers) internally, the quality of your products will follow suit.
The brand landscape has changed. The ways we used to measure positive impact on the world — by certification on product via a label — no longer fits the higher standards and transparency the customer seeks. Consumers are demanding higher, more holistic impacts that are real, and not simply marketing.
A sticker of certification on a bag of coffee will certainly appeal to the conscious consumer; however, if you want to do real good, you need to show how your operations go beyond the product and positively affect your supply chain and your customers in a measurable way.
The B Corp Certification process challenged THRIVE to evaluate our operations through the lens of our core values to understand how our values manifest themselves in internal and external operations. We realized sustainability is not simply about meeting certain metrics. The B Corp standards required us to look more deeply at why we do things and to ask the question, “does the empirical data affirm the expression of our core values in the real world to real people?”
Evaluate your current impact and set course for continual growth
The B Corp Certification process was incredibly informative. B Lab asked difficult questions that allowed us to dig into what we know about ourselves and identify areas we could improve in the future to better embody our core values.
Holding your brand up to the light of a third-party certification helps you identify areas to further align every aspect of your work with your core values. After going through our application process, we benchmarked goals for year-by-year improvement. We know we can continually take steps to raise our score in our ongoing pursuit of being a company that wants to do the best for the world.
Exclusive access to a diverse community of like-minded companies
Today there is a growing community of more than 2,000 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and more than 120 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
As the largest U.S. coffee and tea company within this community, THRIVE Farmers looks forward to collaborating with other brands in this community to bring more and more impact to our farmers and our customers.
No individual brand will fix the world. B Corps across the globe vary greatly in their products and purposes, but sharing a united vision creates a better world for all; for example, an environmentally focused brand can complement a socially focused brand to affect greater change.
Third-party standards can help brands compound their impact. B Corp brand partnerships create value chains that are better for the world. This is the reason the community was created.
Whether your company is for-profit, non-profit, faith-based or NGO, collaboration with like-minded, values-driven organizations leads to greater overall success and farther-reaching positive impacts.