Business of Furniture's Bryce Stuckenschneider writes about the prestigious and comprehensive B-Corp certification.



Certifications in the manufacturing world hinge on the pillars of sustainability, safety, and dependability. From a manufacturer’s perspective, it can be difficult to keep up with the growing list of expectations from the design community. Looking to other industries can help furniture companies take a more holistic view of manufacturer certifications.

A new certification is gaining acclaim for its big picture view. The B-Corp certification may be one of the most scrutinized monikers a company can get because it encompasses the entirety of a business. It is for companies that want to be the best IN the world and the best FOR the world. Despite being less than 10 years old, the B-Corp movement can be felt around the world.

B-Labs, the company behind the B-Corp certification, takes a broader view of an entire company or organization and puts standards in place to challenge companies to stretch themselves to be great for the world.



“Most certifications are tied to specific products and the composition of the materials,” says Cliff Goldman, president of Carnegie Fabrics, which has held the B-Corp distinction since 2014. “Those certifications are great, but they address a micro-view of the world. B-Corp certification is substantially more macro-focused.”

Since its founding 66 years ago, Carnegie held values closely mirroring the B-Corp certification requirements. “B-Corp was the first to put a stamp on the things we were doing already,” Goldman says. “We didn’t wake up one morning and say ‘we need to treat our employees and the planet better.’ Those things were already critical to how we do business. We were just excited a group was bringing these values to light.” Companies are discovering that B-Corp status helps in recruiting, too. Younger generations of employees have a more complex list of values when choosing an employer. Millennials who believe their company cares about more than just profit are more loyal to employers. Those holding the B-Corp status are being rewarded for highlighting the areas of their business that matter most to new talent.

Requirements for a company to be considered a B-Corp include a minimum threshold of benefits to all employees and fair living wages. Equity in the company must be offered to all employees. The company must make all the products it sells. B-Corp certified companies must also be involved in the improvement of their local communities and completely transparent with their financials.

Some companies, such as Fireclay Tile, find that the application process for B-Corp status fundamentally changes the way they do business and helps articulate the structure and philosophy of the company.

Although new certification programs and standards hold merit, perhaps the emphasis on micro-issues should yield to a more macro view of things. Certifications like B-Corp may be the future.

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To learn more about Carnegie's status as a B Corp, click image below.