Insights

Why Getting a B Corp Certification Matters – To Us, and to Our Clients

B Corporation

Obtaining a B Corp certification requires a deep commitment to social and environmental impact. Never has that mattered more.

If there’s anything the last 18 months have laid bare, it’s that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to solving big social issues that affect us all.

At Genus, we’ve worked for decades to make sustainable investing more accessible. We chose to take our focus on sustainability, climate change and social impact a step further, by getting our B Corp certification and reconfirming it every three years. 

We’re not the only ones. In the last couple of years, the popularity of the B Corp Certification for businesses has grown exponentially, with more than 4,000 certified B Corp businesses worldwide – half of which have become certified in the last two years. And becoming a certified B Corp is no easy feat. 

But wait, what is a B Corp?

A B Corp, or certified B Corporation, is a company that has met “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose” according to B Lab, the organization that oversees B Corp certification.

B Corps are thoroughly purpose-driven, and do good across a wide variety of spheres – from a commitment to sustainable operations to a high level of ethics and transparency in governance, to economic impact and employee satisfaction. Some well-known examples of B Corp certified businesses include Patagonia, TOMS shoes, The Body Shop, Beautycounter, Tentree, Amy’s Kitchen and Eileen Fisher. 

What it comes down to is that B Corps are all-around good companies. “If you think about your impact and relationship with the world, it’s about more than shareholder return,” says Carla Heim, Senior Advisor, Sustainability and ESG at the Business Development Bank of Canada, which works to support the Canadian community of B Corps. “When I started this work nine years ago, it used to be mainly companies that were very purpose driven – companies that put their mission forward,” Heim adds. “Now it’s important to a lot of organizations that they’re thinking about all of these pieces. Customers are demanding it and investors are demanding it. There’s a lot of risk in having environmental problems or treating employees badly. And trust and transparency have never been more important.”

Becoming a B Corp is daunting

Joining the ranks of the more than 4,000 B Corps worldwide (230 in Canada) is an involved and potentially lengthy process. But here’s the essence of it: contenders must complete a B Impact Assessment, gathering information and evidence for submission according to criteria that is based on their size, industry and location. “We’re on version six of the assessment since it was launched 15 years ago,” Heim says. “It’s updated every two to three years with the most current criteria.” 

Points are awarded in categories that include governance, workers, community, supply chain environment and customers, and require that applicants carefully examine everything from their shareholder structure to their employee policies, to the nitty gritty of their operations. 

Once all the documentation has been completed, it’s submitted to the B Lab Standards team for review and third-party verification. Companies must score a minimum of 80 points to qualify for certification. “Achieving 80 points is very tough,” Heim says. “If you’re certifying at 82 points, for example, you’ve done an incredible job.”

Committed to continuous improvement

Heim says a lot of companies use the B Impact Assessment as a strategy tool to continuously improve their performance – and their companies. “For many, it’s about the journey,” she says. “The higher the score, the deeper the impact you’re having, so many use that score as one of their indicators for their impact. They constantly want to challenge themselves to do better.” 

That’s exactly how we’ve approached it here at Genus, and how we’ve achieved the highest B Corp-ranking of investment advisors in Canada* (okay, we admit we’re number one out of two, but we hope to see more firms join us here!)

We’re also happy to share that Genus scored 121.2 points on our most recent re-certification, a huge increase over our last certification, when we scored 88.8. “Having gone through the initial certification and the recent recertification process has been enlightening,” says Stephen Au, Genus’ CEO. “It’s given us a roadmap on how we can improve as an organization and to make an even larger impact for all of our stakeholders.”

Genus first became B Corp certified in 2017, a process that required refining and gathering documentation illustrating our commitment to good governance, diversity and inclusion and our sustainability efforts. And of course, our Fossil Free and Impact portfolio offerings contributed to our high score, too. “B Corp Certification represents alignment of our investment philosophies and our own corporate culture,” Au says. “We believe that good governance ultimately leads to better managed companies representing better investment results.”

You can see our full B Corp score breakdown here

We’re committed to recertifying every three years, and look forward to seeing more and more companies join us on this rewarding journey.

Our clients can join us, too, in making a positive impact! Learn more about how impact investing drives change for the planet, and for your future.

*Genus achieved the highest B Corp ranking in Canada in the category of “Investment Advising” and ranked 22nd in North America based on 40 other firms surveyed in this category published by B Hive as of August 30, 2021.

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Client impact

“Graduating from a big bank to Genus was one of the best financial steps we've ever taken. Genus has delivered reliable asset growth despite our moderate risk tolerance. As our financial security has grown, we've also been the beneficiaries of a great client experience. The company's communications have been consistently transparent and informative, including educational webinars and a well-designed web portal where we can track investments daily. Most importantly to us, our portfolio manager has always responded swiftly and thoroughly to our questions and requests. ”
Martin T.
"Having relatively diverse financial goals and needs, along with a slight reticence regarding the stock market, Genus skillfully addressed all of our concerns, and put together a truly exceptional plan: Fossil free funds and a diversified investment portfolio, check; An effective Impact investment portfolio that coincides with our hopes and dreams for a better world, check; Professional advice and assistance to create a donor advised charitable fund with immediate charitable receipts for tax purposes, check. Returns? Way beyond our expectations! We even had some fun along the way and certainly enjoyed an incredible two-year start to what will be a satisfying long-term relationship with Genus."
Marc B.
“I love the service I get at Genus.”
Chris H.
“Leslie and I were fellow board members when we met twenty years ago. For the last ten she has been thoughtful in the construction of an investment strategy for my family and is executing the strategy as planned. The team at Genus has met my expectations and are a pleasure to deal with.”
Bob Q.
“For over 15 years, I have provided selection and performance evaluation of multiple investment managers for a significant family office. Leslie and Genus have been foundational for me in my role. I have always found Leslie and her colleagues to be insightful and proactive, and found the performance of their portion of the portfolio to be well above benchmarks. And they have been a great pleasure to work with.”
Douglas H.
“Genus is a very innovative firm. I am pleased to invest in their Fossil Free and Impact strategies that help me invest in line with my values.”
Marnie C.
“Great team of professionals. Excellent website and reporting. Responds to inquiries promptly. Very pleased with the process of changing from another company to Genus as well. Kudos.”
David L.
“Genus consistently provides a good, clearly explained, comprehensive picture of the general economic and financial situation, along with an excellent account of the investment decisions made in relation to this. Genus’ equally strong concern with clients’ questions and requests for further information is also a very important part of the service it provides.”
Allan S.
“Back in 1992 when I found myself at fifty with a substantial amount of money to invest, I knew just one thing — that I didn’t want to contribute to tobacco companies, arms manufacturers, or oil. But over the ensuing years the options for socially responsible investing have become far more sophisticated and I’m very happy that this is a big part of the Genus approach. I also very much appreciate the long-term relationship with my portfolio manager, Mary Lou.”
Ann P.

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