Impacts of COVID-19 on Data Reporting in the BIA
B lab recognizes that COVID-19 has had a profound impact on society and the B Corp Community. We understand that users of the B Impact Assessment have many questions about the impacts of COVID-19 on their businesses and how that may affect reporting of company information in the BIA. The purpose of this general guidance is to reinforce the importance of reflecting the current state of a business in the BIA even when the financial, social and environmental performance of the business may have been affected by COVID-19. Beyond this general guidance, you will find more nuanced information in the sections below. While this document aims to help users we recognize that it may not answer all questions. In cases where the guidance does not suffice and it prevents you from completing the BIA, please contact your Global Partner representative, the Standards Analyst assigned to your company or submit a ticket.
The BIA and the B Corp Certification process (including Recertification) aim to reflect a company’s social and environmental impact at a specific moment in time. We recognize that this impact can change over time and it is the objective of the BIA to reflect a company’s impact journey, providing useful insights into a company’s impact that allow better informed decision making. With this in mind, and recognizing that the impacts of COVID-19 have tragically been far-reaching and devastating for many, the BIA should reflect the current operating reality of the business for which it is used. Companies are not permitted to adjust BIA responses to reflect ‘pre-COVID’ conditions in order to show what the business looked like before COVID-related impacts. By accurately representing the current state of a business in the BIA company leaders can use this knowledge to better understand the impacts of the global pandemic on their businesses. Furthermore, this data will be tremendously useful to B Lab in monitoring the current state of the B Corp Community as a whole and the impact of COVID-19 on this community of impactful businesses. Finally, by having this data, B Lab will be in a unique position to report on how companies with high social and environmental performance are performing during this unprecedented global crisis. If your company’s Recertification process has been negatively affected by COVID-19 in terms of your BIA score being below the 80 required to maintain Certification, please read below for information on accommodations.
Questions Based on a Last Fiscal Year (Derived from Financials):
Please report as normal, using the previously completed fiscal year for any finance-related questions (e.g. product revenues, supplier costs). It is understood that COVID-19 has negatively impacted many companies’ finances but please note that the BIA does not penalize a company based on absolute revenue or profits figures. Revenue and profit, and how they can be impactful, are evaluated on a percentage basis.
Questions Based on Last Twelve Months (Not Derived from Financials): Many questions in the BIA use different time frames. A question might reference a specific point in time (e.g. a singular date such as ‘today’) or a time frame such as ‘the last twelve months’. This is especially relevant for Workers Metrics where we ask for the number of workers employed at the company ‘today’ (or in reality when completion of the BIA was started). However, when looking at worker number growth over time, the question will stipulate a timeframe such as ‘the last 12 months’ for analysis. This timeframe should not be adjusted to report on a period of time that was not affected by COVID-19, it should reflect the time period preceding the completion or submission of the BIA. We understand that some companies may increase or decrease in size or employee number due to COVID-19 and we kindly request that these changes are reported in the BIA in cases where the reporting time frame was affected by COVID-19.
More specifically, the BIA user needs to choose a point in time that is used as an anchor point from which data is collected. For example, if a user completed the BIA on June 1st 2020, the date that might be chosen as an anchor point to report on "current" workers metrics should be May 31st, 2020. The date used to complete "number of workers 12 months ago" should then be May 31st, 2019. In this case, the ‘previous 12 months’ reporting period is June 1st, 2019, to May 31st, 2020.
We do however recognize that it takes time to complete the BIA and so your anchor point is not likely to be the day before you submit your BIA. So, for example if you submitted your BIA on May 31st 2020 but actively started answering the questions on April 1st 2020 the anchor point should be March 31st and the ‘previous 12 months’ should be April 1st 2019 to March 31st 2020.
In sum, please use a consistent time frame when completing the BIA but refrain from specifically choosing a timeframe to report on because it was not affected by COVID-19.
Qualitative questions related to practices, policies and operating procedures: These questions should also reflect the current state of the business in that the answer options selected should match the operating procedures as they currently are implemented. If the way different aspects of your business operate have changed, please do indicate this in answer selections.
Physical locations (offices, warehouses, factories etc): If your business maintains its operating locations throughout the pandemic (ie. still paying rent or have not sold assets) please do report on them even if staff presence has temporarily decreased or stopped altogether. For example, environmental metrics should continue to be monitored in spite of changing consumption, and any practices that exist to manage these facilities are still considered applicable in the BIA even if they are temporarily experiencing lighter implementation (but will resume ‘normal’ operation in the future). Conversely, if your business has closed any locations or facilities permanently, or has moved to a remote staff model this should also be reflected in the BIA.
Impacts of fluctuating BIA scores on recertifying B Corps: If your company’s BIA score has fallen below the 80 point minimum required to maintain certification (ie. complete Recertification successfully) B Lab will work with your company to seek an accommodation that takes into account your business’ circumstances (eg. an extension on the Improvement Period that allows a recertifying B Corp with <80 points to work for longer on finding score improvements to reach the required 80 points).
For general non COVID-related guidance on reporting data in the BIA please refer to the Knowledge Base Articles below:
Choosing your Assessment Track: Size, Sector, and Location