Did you know that March is B Corp Month?

Did you know that PenFinancial is a certified B Corp organization?

Do you know what B Corp means?

Don’t worry, if you answered ‘no’ to any of those questions, you’re not alone. In fact, I had no idea what B Corp meant when I started my role as Social Purpose Coordinator here almost a year ago. When people ask me what I do at PenFi, I tell them about all the incredible things that makes this place special: our Truly Local Ambassador program, being a Living Wage employer, choosing renewable energy with Bullfrog Power, and being a B Corp certified organization. Usually I am met with a confused nod, or the occasional “What’s B Corp?” – and then I get excited to tell them what it means. So it’s only fitting that I share with you all what the heck B Corp means for B Corp month! Let’s dive right in.

To put it simply, the B Corp certification is a third party designation that means an organization meets high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency. It’s like a scoring sheet that dives deep into an organization’s social and environmental performance, corporate governance, how they give back to the community and how they treat their employees. Kind of like a report card for doing ‘good’ business, except instead of an A+ grade, you’re getting B Corp certified! It means the organization cares, and they’re willing to be honest, transparent and accountable to earn that designation. Check out this quick video.

A lot of people hear the word ‘certification’, or learn that there is a monetary transaction behind the designation and are immediately skeptical. I don’t blame them. I can see where some folks would think a company can buy this designation and use it as a marketing tool to grow their business, regardless if they actually do those things or not.

But that’s not how B Corp works.

And I think that’s the beauty of this blog post, and raising awareness of what B Corp actually is, what it means, during the month of March.

To become B Corp certified, an organization has to achieve a certain score on an assessment that focuses on these 5 impact areas:

  • Governance
  • Environment
  • Workers
  • Customers
  • Community

In order to be assessed and scored, an organization has to share all and any documentation/ information that relates to these areas. The team at B Lab combs through every detail and assigns a score in each area. You have to achieve a certain score to become certified, and trust me – it’s not easy to achieve. It’s about putting your money where your mouth is: you claim to care about your employees? Prove it. You say you’re committed to the environment? Show us. You can learn more here.

So – our journey: In 2019, PenFinancial became B Corp certified after months of preparation, documentation, and hard work. We also pay an annual certification fee, which licenses us to use intellectual property like the B Corp logo. We believe that by holding ourselves to a higher standard, we are showing our members and the community that there is a better way to do business – one that is better for our employees, our communities and the environment. You can review our most recent B Corp scores here.

You may be wondering why we decided to put all the time, energy and money into the B Corp certification process when so many people actually don’t know what it means. Here’s why: any organization can claim they care about the environment, their people and their community, but we wanted to back those claims up. We are willing to put in that extra work and those extra dollars to have a third party like B Corp verify that we actually do and what we say. That we care in those 5 impact areas. This certification holds us to the highest standard, and keeps us accountable. We have to work for those scores, and keep working towards them as the impact areas and the world climate changes. The B Corp assessment and scores makes us take a long, hard look at the way we do business and highlights our accomplishments, and where we can do better.

At PenFinancial, our purpose is to improve lives and strengthen communities. Being a B Corp certified organization holds us accountable to that purpose. It allows us to say, “Hey! We care about our people. We are about the world. We care about making a difference, let us show you how.” We can back it all up. And that’s what makes PenFi different. We are a truly local credit union doing good in the Niagara and Haldimand communities. We’re treating our employees right and celebrating who they are. We’re making changes to how do we business to better the environment. We’re constantly looking for ways to be better.

These are the reasons I love working at PenFinancial, and why I love telling people what I do in my social purpose role. I love telling people why we’re different, and how we care. I love being able to back up what I say with our B Corp designation. I hope after reading this blog post, you will too.

I encourage you to follow us on social media (@penfinancial on Facebook, X/Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube) to learn more about B Corp throughout the month of March, and to experience first hand what makes us so special.

We’re participating in an Instagram Live about credit unions and B Corp on Friday, March 29th at 12:00pm EST, and we’d love it if you’d tune in!


Dana Brown

Written by Dana Brown

Dana is our Social Purpose Coordinator who handles all things #TrulyLocalCommitment at PenFi!