The environmental performance of B Corp SMEs companies and the Occurrence of Greenwashing


  • Joshua Michael Hunter
  • Maria Rosa De Giacomo



B Corp, Greenwashing, Environmental Performance, SME, Claims


Frame of the research. The paper focuses on the B Corp certification and on greenwashing.


Purpose of the paper. The study explores if environmental performance is less of a priority than social performance to achieve the B Corp certification. Moreover, the paper investigates if there is scope for greenwashing within certified SMEs.


Methodology. The paper is based on a quantitative analysis of 134 UK SMEs B Corp scores and on content analysis of company reports from a sample of 10 companies.


Results. The analysis demonstrates a range of issues within the B Corp certification. For example, findings support the evidence that the environmental impact in certain scenarios can be, in effect, avoided, while still achieving certification as companies perform well under the other impact areas, more related to social aspects. Moreover, the paper suggests that greenwashing can still occur within a certified company.


Research limitations. The study did not look into occurrences of specific claim types in relation to the Environment B Corp score. Moreover, the paper focused on one voluntary certification type, meaning the findings in this research are only fully relevant to B Corp scheme.


Practical implications. By highlighting the weaknesses of the B Corp certification, which can enable companies to achieve the certification in the presence of low environmental performance, SMEs could consider alternative voluntary certifications that align more with their values and that consider effectively social and environmental performance equally. Our paper can support companies in assessing their own communications to reduce greenwashing before releasing information to key stakeholders.


Originality of the study. The paper explores simultaneously the environmental performance of B Corp certified companies and the occurrence of greenwashing claims in their reports. In doing this, it uses a new framework to identify a range of claims by providing concrete examples.


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