Why Recertifying for B Corp Means We’re Improving Our Impact

BCorp Certified

There are now over 8,000 B Corporations globally—and we’re proud to have been one of them since 2017. As we embark upon the recertification of our BCorp standing (a process B Corps must undergo every three years), we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come since we first certified – and why this journey has been so important to us as a company.

An antidote to greenwashing and virtue-signalling

These days, many companies tout their superior commitment to environmental and social issues. But words are not enough. With greenwashing and virtue signalling threatening to undermine trust in many companies, we need clear metrics and impartial bodies to judge a company’s environmental and social impact.

Since 2006, B Lab has been providing such clarity. The non-profit organization (the “B” stands for beneficial) creates standards, policies, tools and programs to influence the shape of capitalism, and certifies companies around the world that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

The certification process examines each applicant on five operational pillars: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. And we’re working to boost our score in all of them. “B Corp certification, and in our case recertification is a rigorous, data-driven process that helps us quantify our progress in each of these areas, and provides a roadmap for ways we can continually improve,” says Shannon Ward, Genus’ Chief Growth Officer.

Improving our B Corp score

woman with computer smiling at someone

Genus is one of four investment advisors in Canada to have qualified as a B Corp as of May 2024 under the category of Investment advising. And ever since our first certification, we’ve made meaningful improvements in our score: from 88.8 in 2017 to 121.2 currently.

To qualify for B Corp certification, a company needs a score of at least 80, with 50.9 representing the median score for all businesses completing the assessment. According to Mike Rowlands, CEO and partner at Junxion Strategy, a social impact consulting firm that works with companies who are “interested in using their capacity as a business to drive good things into the community and into the world”, B Corp is one of “the most challenging certifications” for social purpose businesses. And the recertification process is just as arduous as certifying for the first time.

To help us through it—and to ensure we continue to make progress on our sustainability journey—we’ve enlisted Rowlands’ help. Over the next few months, he’ll be working with our team to sift through the work we’ve done on B Corp’s five pillars and implement some improvements before submitting the recertification documents to B Lab for an audit. “While the outward-facing goal is to achieve a higher B Corp score, we are more focused on what that score represents, how it can help us quantify what we’re doing well, and what we could be doing better at in terms of the five pillars,” Ward says “This process requires us to take a close and objective look at our efforts and helps us to make clear decisions about how we are going to move forward in each of these key areas.”

The difference between ESG and B Corp certification

ESG vs B Corp certification

As purpose continues to reshape capitalism, demonstrating how your business has impact—and shows purpose—is paramount.

For Genus, B Corp certification has become an essential tool in creating clarity and instilling confidence with our clients. And they’re not alone in wanting to see this. According to the Social Purpose Institute at the United Way, 71 percent of global consumers say they will recommend a company with a purpose over a company without one.

While there are many similarities to the efforts companies make to improve Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) metrics, Rowlands says there is a key difference between ESG and B Corp certification: “ESG comes out of finance and was really created to help companies understand, and investors to measure, their risk exposure. B Lab flips that on its head and says, ‘What are the opportunities to be a better business—to be a better corporate citizen?’”

B Corp certification delivers several key benefits to companies like Genus. For one, says Rowlands, it’s a great marketing tool. “It really showcases that you’re among the vanguard of social purpose businesses.”

And from a staff engagement perspective, being a B Corp is also critical—especially in a labour market where employees increasingly seek purpose-driven work.

“But I think the greatest value is a step below that,” adds Rowlands. “B Corp certification is like going to the doctor and getting a full physical, with blood tests and heart tests and so on. It’s a really comprehensive check on the health of your business.”

Becoming a B Corp will get even more challenging in the years ahead

five people in a meeting

Late next year, the B Corp certification process is set to become even more rigorous. “Right now, you could have a company that was really good at governance, but not so good at other things, and achieve the 80 points required to certify,” he says. “Moving forward, companies will have to hit a minimum threshold on each of the five pillars.”

The other major change is that applicants will be required to make a commitment to having social purpose. “B Lab is forcing leadership in each business to really think about their purpose. Why does the business exist? Is it just to make profits? If so, that might be really hard to certify.”

As we work toward our recertification, one thing is clear: our commitment to strengthening our score will not only lead to better results in our B Lab audit, but also to an even stronger commitment to upholding the values B Corp espouses – making an impact in the world, and helping our clients to the same.

Want to learn about how you can make an impact with your investments? Get started here.


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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. ”
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"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."
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Bob Q.
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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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