Colorado has long beckoned to pioneers, and that spirit is still alive in today’s local businesses. In fact, more than 100 homegrown companies have earned the distinction of a Benefit Corporation (B Corp)—a rigorous certification that recognizes businesses dedicated to creating a sustainable future. Only 2,655 businesses worldwide can boast this accomplishment. Not surprisingly, Colorado has more certified B Corps than any other state.
“One driving value in the state is stewardship—taking care of our communities and the environment that provides for us,” says Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, executive director of the Denver-based nonprofit, the Alliance Center. “These values go hand-in-hand to B Corp certification.”
B Corporations are for-profit companies that meet high standards in four categories—social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. Navigating the initial certification process and keeping up with recertification requirements is complicated. But now, the Alliance Center is positioned to support local businesses as they work to earn and maintain B Corp status.
On October 1, the nonprofit officially took over Best for Colorado—a free program that will help local businesses measure and broaden their social and environmental impact. Previously operated under B-Lab, the organization that acts as the governing body for the B Corp certification, businesses will now be able to leverage the Alliance Center’s connections in the private sector and beyond to assist in their sustainability efforts.
“The private sector is vital to driving systemic change through the extreme power of the market,” Simmons-St. Onge says. “We must harness this power to be a continued force for good. That is our aim with the Best for Colorado Program.”
Whether a company is interested in becoming B Corp certified or has already earned this distinction, the Best for Colorado program will offer a variety of services, from networking events and workshops to one-on-one mentoring programs. For businesses seeking B Corp status, the Best for Colorado team will help guide them through every step of the process. For companies that are already B Corp certified, the program will help identify areas in which these businesses are excelling or need improvement, ensuring that they stay above the needed assessment score—80 out of 200—for re-certification every three years.
Simmons-St. Onge says that the Alliance Center’s overarching goal with the program is to redefine success in Colorado through cross-sector collaboration. Businesses will be prompted to equally consider their impact on workers, the environment, and surrounding communities, while striving to make meaningful changes over time—and that’s good not just for the companies, but for the community, as well.
“The benefactors are the communities [these businesses] serve,” she says. “Companies that are driven by more than their bottom line have more engaged employees and give back more and more.”