Seeking the B in Sustainable Procurement

Procurement is the engine of an organization’s ESG strategy and is a key leverage point to address fundamental challenges like climate change, social inequity, and reconciliation. With so many products and services to choose from, and an increasing call to integrate sustainability considerations into the selection of goods, services and supplier, how do procurement teams navigate the challenge of making the very “best value” selection.

Integrating sustainability criteria into procurement decisions isn’t always easy and with a growing interest in ESG it can be difficult to distinguish the good from the greenwashed. Sustainability requirements for brands have led to greenwashing – sometimes making it extremely challenging for buyers to know how to differentiate what is a truly a more sustainable product or service.

The good news is that when one purchases from companies that are third-party certified as being sustainable, then much of the work has been done for you. But which certifications should you be seeking when making a purchasing decision? We recently wrote about ecolabels that we trust and how to find the most appropriate one for the product you are seeking. When it comes to certifying a company however, there is one that stands out: B Corp. B Corp Certification requires a company to work towards and achieve the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility. They measure across five impact areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. In addition to completing a detailed Impact Assessment, companies are required to adopt the B Corp legal framework into their governing documents and sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence. You can find out more about certification process here.

Looking for the B makes is good for buyers because:

  • It’s been tested by a third party; you can be confident the supplier is demonstrating leadership.
  • The criteria are progressive; and they get updated to ensure continuous improvement.
  • The qualifications are rigorous; a company must be committed to achieve a B Corp certification
  • Is it enduring; recertification is required every 3 years
  • The certification is holistic; it analyzes an entire company, not just the product or service.


When it comes to best value, B Corps meet all the criteria and set the standard for how businesses can and should be run. It gives buyers that stamp of approval to ensure the highest sustainability standards are met. There are currently almost 5000 Certified B Corporations in more than 70 countries and in over 150 industries. During your procurement activities, look out for companies that have made the commitment to getting certified. These businesses have gone through their due diligence, and it will make it that much easier for buyers to check off the social and environmental requirements.