What Does It Really Mean To Be A B Corp?

Team members from Southern Energy Management standing side by side during a team event

In This Article

We are so excited to share that Southern Energy Management has completed its sixth B Corp recertification! After achieving our first certification in 2009, being a B Corp has become a core part of who Southern Energy is and what we stand for as a company in the business of leading the change in North Carolina and beyond. New to the B Corp movement? Keep reading to learn what being a B Corp is all about and the impact of our most recent B Corp recertification.

topic 01

What is B Corp Certification?

If you’ve been following sustainable brands or have taken a look at the back of product packaging lately (especially in the tea aisle), chances are you’ve come across a little logo with a “B” and some sort of messaging about “Using business as a force for good”. So, what are these brands talking about and what does that little B stand for? Let’s dive into the basics of B Corp Certification and just what it means to be a B Corp.

B Corp Certification is one way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to using better business practices and maintaining a triple bottom line (people + planet + profit) by assessing 5 key impact areas:

  • Governance: Practices and policies around the company’s mission, ethics, accountability, and transparency
  • Workers: Practices and policies around team members’ financial, physical, professional, and social well-being
  • Community: Practices and policies around community service, local impact, and charitable giving
  • Environment: Practices and policies around environmental impact and stewardship
  • Customers: Practices and policies around improving customer experiences and creating value for consumers

Here’s a video from our co-founder, Bob Kingery, on why Southern Energy Management values being a Certified B Corp.

B Corp Pledge 

Behind every B Corp is a pledge to “Use Business as a Force for Good” which really translates to valuing a triple bottom line and committing to the Declaration of Interdependence.

Declaration of Interdependence

We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.
This economy is comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation – Which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

As B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:

  • That we must be the change we seek in the world.
  • That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
  • That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
  • To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.
Energy Campers learning about B Corp and Business as a Force for Good

topic 02

How to Become a Certified B Corp? 

To become a Certified B Corp, a company must complete the B Impact Assessment (BIA) and receive a score of 80 or more out of a max of 200 points. Southern Energy Management scored 97.3 in our most recent recertification. You can see our past performance from our post celebrating 10 years as a Certified B Corp. 

The BIA covers a comprehensive set of B Corp requirements across the five impact categories – Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. Businesses complete the evaluation which is then independently reviewed by B Lab, the global nonprofit organization that administers the B Corp certification. At the completion of the review process, the business will receive their score which will determine if they’ve reached the coveted B Corp status. 

Hear from Randy, one of our residential solar designers and B Corp advocates, on why B Corp certification is important for our customers:

A Moving Target

Did you know? B Corp Certification is not a one-time achievement. B Corps must complete recertification every 3 years to maintain their certification status. The B Corp assessment is continually evolving to promote higher standards in social and environmental transparency, accountability, and performance. Big changes are on the horizon for the next version of the BIA, to ensure B Corps are even more resilient to social and environmental challenges.

We’ve just scratched the surface of what a B Corp is, so if you’d like to learn more, head over to our post on “What is a Certified B Corporation” →  

Common Questions

B Corp is short for B Corporation, which refers to the business certification administered by the nonprofit, B Lab. Fun fact: The “B” in B Corp stands for “Benefit for All”.  

Unlike a C Corp, a B Corp is not a legal entity. B Corp refers to a for-profit company that has received B Corp Certification while C Corp refers to a corporation, which is a legal entity that’s separate from its owners. C Corps can also be a B Corp if they receive B Corp certification status. Learn More → 

Apart from B Corp certification, a company can also become a “Benefit Corporation.” Similar to C Corps, the key difference between a B Corporation and a Benefit Corporation is that a Benefit Corporation is a legal structure that binds social and environmental impact to the company’s stakeholder governance, essentially making the company legally required to balance a triple-bottom line. While benefit corporations are not required to become a Certified B Corp, the two often go hand in hand. Learn More → 

The first group of 82 B Corps was certified in 2007 and we followed shortly after in 2009. Since then, the B Corp movement has grown to over 7,000 companies certified in 91 countries.

topic 03

What Does B Corp Mean?

Or maybe more importantly, what does it mean to be a B Corp? Let’s take a look at some of the improvements we’ve been working on since our last recertification, and where we’d like to continue improving:  


Measure of the company’s overall mission, ethics, accountability and transparency

  • With environmental and social goals for Southern Energy as a whole, we also incorporated goals on individual levels which are captured in our performance reviews — this includes things like measuring and tracking requirements such as attendance in guided company JEDI discussions.
  • We established formal procedures to address results from stakeholder engagement, with a designated individual or team responsible for appropriate follow-ups.
  • We updated our company policy language to meet more specific B Lab criteria — this included our code of ethics to explicitly prohibit bribes in any form, including kickbacks or gifts, on any portion of contract payments or soft dollar practices.
  • We present information in a formal report that allows comparison to previous time periods, check it out here!
  • Mission lock through a legal governance structure
  • Enhancing how we monitor and report on our anti-corruption program
  • Producing financials that are verified annually by an independent source through an Audit or Review


Measure of the company’s relationship with its workforce and the overall work environment within the company

  • Cost of living adjustments that match inflation rates of the country
  • Coinsurance of 80%+ covered by healthcare plan
  • Company payment of 80%+ of individual premium
  • Employees have access to behavioral health counseling services, web resources, or Employee Assistance Programs
  • New Sabbatical Leave Program
  • Added an additional PTO holiday 
  • Primary caregivers receive 12 weeks to 6 months of time off for parental leave (including unpaid and paid leave)
  • 3-6 weeks of primary parental leave (or equivalent) is fully paid
  • Increased to 5-9 days per full-time team member per year
  • Increased participation for team members who received skills-based training to advance core job responsibilities
  • Increased participation for team members who received training on life skills for personal development
  • Enhancing our team member retirement plan
  • Continuing to expand healthcare benefits and supplementary benefits
  • Establishing indoor air quality monitoring for our facility


Measure of the company’s supplier relations, diversity, and involvement in the local community

  • We conduct analyses of our job description language and requirements to ensure they are inclusive and equitable
  • We have designated an individual or group explicitly responsible for diversity, equity, and inclusion (i.e. a Diversity Manager or Inclusion Committee)
  • In 2022, our team participated in 140 hours of JEDI Conversations facilitated by LaShauna Austria from Seeds of Change Consulting
  • We now work with a local bank committed to serving the community
  • We’ve increased the discounted products/services offered to qualified underserved groups
  • We offer 20 hours or more a year of paid time off
  • Our company has set community service or pro-bono targets
  • We established a formal statement on the intended social or environmental impact of our company’s philanthropy
  • We established screening practices for charitable contributions or impact measurement mechanisms for our community investments
  • We kicked off several community-based partnerships in 2021 with the goal of amplifying the work of local organizations around social and environmental impact. See our partnerships here → 
  • We worked with policymakers to develop and advocate for policy changes explicitly designed to improve environmental outcomes, with efforts resulting in specific reform
  • We have provided data or contributed to academic research on social or environmental topics
  • Tracking the social and environmental and impact of our supply chain
  • Measuring the diversity of our team and establishing an action plan to improve management of diversity, equity, and inclusion moving forward
  • Increasing our team’s volunteer rate, and ensuring everyone utilizes their 4 hours of paid community service each year


Measure of the company’s environmental impact through its facilities, materials, emissions, and resource use

  • We created a written policy encouraging environmentally preferred products and practices in team member virtual offices (e.g. recycling)
  • Our company shares resources with team members regarding environmental stewardship in home offices (e.g. energy efficiency)
  • Team members are provided with a list of environmentally-preferred vendors for office supplies
  • 75-99% of our facility energy use is produced from renewable sources from the solar system installed at our office
  • Energy efficiency improvements at our facility resulted in 10-14% energy conservation improvement
  • We’ve begun tracking our Carbon Intensity for Scopes 1 and 2 
  • We utilize strategic planning software to minimize fuel usage and shipping footprint
  • We began training drivers and handlers in fuel-efficient techniques
  • We have formally defined the outcomes sought by our product or service and have developed a theory of change for them
  • We have based our impactful product & service business model on established secondary research that demonstrates potential impact
  • Certifying our facility to a green building standard
  • Tracking our GHGs for Scope 1, 2, and 3
  • Supply chain environmental impact tracking and improvement
  • Monitoring and managing water use and conservation


Measures whether a products or services promote public benefit and if it is designed to solve an environmental or social issue

  • We’ve expanded our customer feedback channels 
  • We established formal programs to continuously improve outcomes produced for customers (including reducing negative effects or increasing positive effects)
  • We comply with independent marketing and advertising standards relevant to their sector or industry
  • We get input from the communities that are featured on our messaging and advertising campaigns
  • We have a formal publicly available data and privacy policy
  • We make all users aware of the information collected, the length of time it is preserved, how it’s used, and whether and how it is shared with other entities (public or private) in our privacy policy
  • Tracking suppliers that are subjected to quality assurance audits 
  • Tracking impact on underserved populations

For a full recap of what we’ve been up to and our social/environmental impact, check out our 2022 Year in Review →  

Topic 04

What other companies are B Corp Certified?

With a global community of over 7,000 certified B Corps, you may not have realized some of your favorite brands are B Corps too! All around the world, other B Corps are monitoring and measuring their impact, and making improvements to how they do business, just like we outlined above. As far as famous B Corp companies go, Patagonia, Ben & Jerrys, and Cotopaxi are our big 3 household names.  

Here’s a B Corp list with more examples of B Corporations you’re probably familiar with (although this is just a sample you can find all the B Corps on the full B Corp Directory):

  • Cabot Creamery
  • Danone
  • Guyaki Yerba Mate
  • Jeni’s
  • King Arthur
  • Maker’s Mark
  • New Belgium
  • Stonyfield
  • Thrive Market
  • Torani
  • Aveda
  • Badger Balm
  • The Body Shop
  • Cora
  • DIVA
  • Dr. Bronner’s
  • Ethique
  • Melanin Essentials
  • Olly
  • Welly
  • Allbirds
  • Athleta
  • Burton
  • Nisolo
  • Toms
  • TenTree
  • United by Blue
  • Warby Parker
  • Blueland
  • Dropps
  • EarthHero
  • Grove Collaborative
  • Gardener’s Supply
  • Seventh Generation
Selection of B Corp items including a kanteen, mug, blanket, portable fire pit, portable charger, and dopp kit with fall trees in the background
Keep an eye out for our seasonal referral giveaways! Our fall giveaway featured B Corps like East Fork, Cotopaxi, Klean Kanteen, Nimble, Thread talk, MPowered, and Barebones

Local North Carolina B Corps

As far as local North Carolina B Corp Examples, here’s a sample list:

  • Bella Tunno
  • Brand Fuel
  • Counter Culture
  • Deltec Homes
  • East Fork
  • Fair Game Beverage
  • French Broad Chocolate
  • Green Heffa Farms
  • Happy Dirt
  • Larry’s Coffee
  • Murphy’s Naturals
  • New Belgium Brewing
  • Seal the Seasons
  • Thread Talk
  • TS Designs
  • Vert & Vogue
  • And more!

Resources for B Corps and the B Corp-curious

Interested in learning more about the B Movement? Here are some resources to check out:

  • NC State B Corp Clinic: A great resource for organizations looking into B Corp certification and unsure of where to start

What's Next?

Lead the Change

You don’t have to be a large corporation to make a difference. Whether you’re a business owner, employee, or consumer, you can contribute to positive change. Explore the B Corp community, support B Corp brands, and consider becoming a B Corp yourself! Together, we can create a more sustainable and equitable world.

A fun memory featuring our team unboxing our branded Patagoina gear

Ready to Get Started?

Reach out to our project teams to share your goals and learn more!