As 2023 comes to a close we’re thinking about what 2024 may bring and as we like to accentuate the positive, debunk the odd marketing myth or two and generally look for ways forward, we’ve gone for a verbal meander on the B side. Graham Gillen, founder of eccountinc , management accountant and trained B Leader, had a good old chinwag with White Camino’s founder Melissa Fretwell. And not about bean counting but about B Corp. We know brands with purpose resonate, Gen Z can’t get enough of them and yet it sounds like a lot of effort to get there. Grab a Lucky Saint lager and a bag of Propercorn to find out…
Ever wondered if your company is doing all it can for its people and the planet? You care about making a positive difference in the way you do business, right? The B Corp global movement is one way of finding out if you meet the mark or fall short in certain areas.
By going down the journey of becoming a B Corp it challenges you to look at all areas of your business with respect to:
It helps you see clearly where your strong points lie and areas that you need to look at more to see how you can do better.
Certified B Corporations across the world are proving that they can achieve great success while doing the right thing for people and the planet. The Purpose Dividend research by DEMOS, supported by B Lab UK, explores the impact of purpose-led companies on their workers, communities, environment as well as the overall economy. Check out the charts below, no PHD required to see the benefits.
Becoming a certified B Corp isn’t just a certificate to prove you meet a certain standard, it is much more. You become part of a supportive community of other purpose-led businesses who are keen to work with other like minded companies to make a positive difference within the B Hive network, where you can reach out to all B Corps across the world. Check out some of the B Corp brands who have created some beautiful partnerships from collaboration like Ben and Jerry’s x Toneychocoloney to backpack brand Madlug (who support children going into care) working with global giant IKEA to contribute to their social goals. Plus you can become involved in your nearest B Local and become part of that local active community.
If anyone is considering B Corp certification and starts to look online or read some articles about those who have gained the certification, they may be put off by some of what they see and read. Often highlighted is the length of time taken, sometimes the changes needed are not realised early in the journey or the scale of information needed by B Lab to verify their answers given in the Benefit Impact Assessment (BIA).
Fear not as there are plenty of people ready and willing to help within the B Corp community, some of us are trained by the various global B Labs as B leaders working as consultants and are very experienced and well versed in what it takes to use ‘Business as a force for good’ and gain the certification.
The first thing we can help with is guidance on completing the BIA and an important part of that is making sure they are set up on the correct ‘Track’ for size (worker number) industry sector and location, this can get complex in group structures with multiple locations and will have an impact on questions that have to get answered so important to get right early on. Another important thing to establish early is if there are any things highlighted in the ‘Disclosure Questionnaire’ which highlights work within or for controversial industries such as ‘Fossil Fuels’, ‘Casinos’, ‘Bottled Water’, ‘Operating in war zones’ by way of example, this can be a very complicated and often determined on a case-by-case basis by B lab.
Depending on the outcome of the assessment and above this will determine what next steps look like, for many we have worked with we aim to capture not only what good practises are in place but also help them consider what can be introduced in the short term to achieve a score of at least around 83-85 (a score of 80 is minimum for certification) so they can see what either needs evidence to back up for verification or what changes or systems need put in place. For some larger more established businesses this can be more complicated and take longer to achieve. The aim is always to capture and enhance positive impacts for People and Planet.
This step is where most time is taken up and where we can help save time by providing for example template policies and guidance on the type of evidence looked for by B Lab during evaluation and verification, we can also be available during and after this time for accountability calls and help answering queries from B Lab as they progress through certification.
A bit like tackling any journey or ‘Camino’ it is always better going prepared, it can be more fulfilling with others on the same journey and may even need someone to guide the way. But the sooner you start the quicker you will get to your destination.
With nearly 8000 B Corp businesses across 93 countries, B Corp is becoming a brand marker of consumer trust. When people buy from a certified B Corp, they know they are buying a product or a service from a company that meets the highest standards of social and environmental impact.
In Deloitte’s Sustainable Consumer 2023 survey showed 1 in 4 customers were prepared to pay more for brands with a commitment to the environment, through their sustainable products and packaging and ethical working practices for their team and the workers of their suppliers. It also acknowledged that more needs to be done to educate other customers on the benefits for society by choosing the more sustainable option along with changing the law as 77% of the UK public believe business should legally be responsible for people and the planet (Sourced from B Lab UK).
B Lab UK have been pushing the government to accept the Better Business Act which aims to change the UK Law to ensure every company in the UK aligns the interests of their shareholders with those of the wider society and the environment.
As we look back on the outcome of the most recent COP 28 which showed the inability of global political leaders to reach a decisive decision on the phasing out of fossil fuels, we must recognise that it will take action by businesses to show leadership on not only the climate crisis but also Societal problems and an ever-growing number of ecological disasters some of which are related to both of these. As Graham so neatly puts it:
If you are still unsure if the time has come to act, it is my belief that ‘Business as Usual’ in the short to medium term will not be a viable option for many. It is also not one which will be accepted by current or very soon to be consumers and perhaps more importantly, employees. I have already heard of people ‘consciously quitting’ a role because it did not align with their values and spoke with recruiters who have been ‘interviewed’ about the organisations ‘Net Zero’ plans or policies on ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ for example.
We hope that's helpful or even enlightening and rest assured, the process is a whole lot easier when you have Graham as your compass, metaphorically speaking of course.