Our Journey Owning the World’s First B Corp

Our Journey Owning the World’s First B Corp

Certified B Corporations are companies that are verified to meet the highest standards of social and environmental impact, legal accountability, and public transparency. Since the B Corp movement began in 2006, there are now over 8,000 Certified B Corporations across the world with one unifying goal: to use business as a force for good.


The story of B Corps began when three business leaders named Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy saw what could happen to even the most socially-minded businesses when they follow corporate America’s mainstream pathway to growth. They had built a company with varied social responsibility pillars, but watched as those efforts were stripped away by new management after selling the company and making their successful exit.

Driven to create a new type of business that could have impact woven into its corporate DNA so that it could persist even during transitions, they founded B Lab which developed the ideas of the benefit corporation (a new legal entity where owners are accountable to creating value for all of their stakeholders, not just their shareholders) and B Corp Certification (an independent process to quantify and verify a company’s positive impact).

During this time, the soon-to-be B Lab co-founders looked to existing leaders for inspiration about how to incorporate good principles into the very DNA of a company. They spent months traveling across the country interviewing government, business, and other leaders to develop the standards for what a great business should be, and Jay discovered UnTours after the company won the recognition of Paul Newman’s foundation, who awarded us the title of “Most Generous Company in America” in 1999. Jay was inspired by Hal’s practice of giving all of UnTours’ profits to the UnTours Foundation, as well as his simple lifestyle and commitment to social and economic justice, and they embarked on a years-long conversation about using business as a force for good.

Ultimately, B Lab actually modeled much of the B Corp framework on the example of UnTours, and UnTours was the first company to ever go through B Lab’s rigorous certification process to become the world’s very first B Corp. (Check out this video where Jay shares this story!)

In recognition of Hal’s influence, B Lab presents the Hal Taussig Award at every B Corp Champions Retreat to a B Corp leader who is carrying on Hal’s legacy of using business for good and best exemplifies the ideals of the B Corp movement.

Continuous Improvement

Since first certifying in 2007, UnTours has gone through numerous recertification processes to maintain its B Corp status. B Lab requires that every three years, a company updates its B Impact Assessment (a free digital tool for companies to measure and improve their impact across the five areas of Governance, Community, Workers, Environment, and Customers). One of the key principles of the B Corp movement is continuous improvement, so every few years, B Lab develops new performance standards that all B Corps must meet. Because the bar for certification keeps being raised, UnTours has had to continue iterating its impact in order to meet the criteria of certification.

This year is another recertification for UnTours, using the 6th set of standards developed by B Lab (Version 6 of the B Impact Assessment) even as B Lab develops the next iteration of standards that represent a significant departure from the previous structure. These new standards focus on required areas of impact, where previously, a company could achieve a minimum performance score of 80 points through any configuration across the five impact areas. So even as we recertify this year with the standards already familiar to us, we are looking ahead to the new standards and strategizing accordingly to ensure we continue to meet the very highest standards of social and environmental impact.

Here is a snapshot report of our most recent B Impact Score received during our 2020 certification, indicating scores of 18.0 points for Governance, 24.2 points for Workers, 23.6 points for Community, 13.0 points for Environment, and 10.7 points for Customers, for an overall score of 89.9.

Looking Ahead

We are kicking off another recertification year and focusing specifically on our operations in the Community and Environment impact areas of the assessment.