Ask Ashley Linden of Manitoba Hemp Harvest Foods about how long the organization has enjoyed B Corp certification, and his answer is succinct.
“About 10 years,” says the company’s director, quality. “In our case, we pursued it for the certification of our organic hemp seed. It’s not easy to do. You’ve got to pull back a lot of curtains.”
Ten years ago, achieving the certification, while it was a significant accomplishment, didn’t carry the weight that it does now, notes Linden.
“Back then the value of having it wasn’t nearly as high as it is now. Today, it’s on the front of bags and jackets. The perception of doing good by the environment and customers is huge.”
Consequently, it’s important for companies to strongly consider getting B Corp status, as it puts them in a very favorable position in the eyes of an increasingly eco-friendly society.
“It covers everything from company philosophy, to what you do and make, and how you interact with suppliers and treat employees,” Linden says. “It’s a high standard that takes a lot of effort to achieve.”
Make no mistake about it, much effort is required to achieve the designation – and then keep it.
“You must do better every year once you achieve B Corp certification. There’s a rolling scale, and you must show improvement to maintain certification.”
The bigger question is, is all that effort worth it?
“It is,” he says. “It helps with sales because more consumers are driving that way. They’re mindful of more than just price. They’re concerned about a company’s philosophy, where they get ingredients from, how they make and market their product, and how they treat their employees.”
As daunting as the task might seem – small and mid-sized companies might be intimidated by the process due to its scope and perceived cost – B Corp is not just a tool used by big companies.
“No question, it’s totally attainable for small and mid-sized companies,” says Linden. “The only way you’re going to do better in business is to continually improve.”
Today, Manitoba Harvest is reaping the benefits of attaining – and maintaining – their B Corp certification.
“Although our hemp product was unusual 10 years ago, it isn’t now,” he says. “It’s a healthy food that is biodiverse and sequesters carbon. It’s an incredible crop that’s sustainable, and great for the environment.”
Once on the cutting edge 10 years ago and now on the leading edge in championing sustainable practices, Manitoba Harvest is intent on doing what it can to promote a greener lifestyle.
“We want to drive people along. That means creating good B Corp communities that share best practices and support each other,” Linden says. “If we can do that, we can achieve a triple bottom line: profit, people, and planet. When you do that, everyone benefits.”