Sharon Smallworth from the Resonance communications team describes the journey through the B Corp recertification process and what we can learn going forward.
Phew, that was fun, in the same way as watching a horror movie or taking a terrifying ride on the world’s highest roller coaster! There’s the pleasure in anticipation, the excitement of taking part, and the inevitable butterflies in your tummy that follow. B Corp really knows how to get into all the nooks and crannies of a business to make sure that when one part of the business is ‘doing good’, it isn’t at the cost of another part of the business.
So What Exactly Is B Corp?
B Corp is a community of over 4,000 businesses, in 70 countries and 150 industries, which have been through the B Corp certification process to ensure that they meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability, to balance profit and purpose.
The process splits businesses into five sections across key areas:
To certify as a B Corp, a company must achieve a minimum verified score of 80 points on the B Impact Assessment. The B Impact Assessment asks around 200 questions about how the day-to-day operations of a company create positive impact for the company’s workers, community, and environment. Additionally, companies can earn further points if their overall business model can be shown to create positive social and environmental impact as well, qualifying the company for specific Impact Business Model points. Scores for Certified B Corporations are verified by the non-profit B Lab.
Sounds Quite Straightforward Doesn’t It?
But imagine having to examine every part of how you run your business and producing evidence to support it. Some things are quite simple, such as confirming you pay your staff the living wage or your staff holiday or pension provision. But what about areas of the business which are not so clear cut? Say, do you have a policy about how you treat interns? Have you made a formal commitment to the environment and what’s your carbon footprint? Or do you have a purchasing policy that favours local businesses?
And what makes it even more challenging, is that depending on your answers, the questions that follow may change!
Sometimes companies operate in a responsible way, but it might just be something that has been carried out on an ad hoc basis, or has become a pattern of behaviour over the years. With B Corp if you want your answer verified as true, you have to incorporate it into your company’s everyday operations so there is no question about the process, and it won’t fall over if a member of staff leaves.
And That’s Where The Challenge Is.
It would be great to be able to say yes to every question, but running a business is tough at any time, but especially in the current climate. Businesses have to look at what is achievable in the short, medium and long-term and maybe accept that they may not be perfect, but that pushing your business out of its comfort zone and really doing the best you can to balance purpose and profit, can be enough.
What Are We Aiming For?
It’s most definitely not about the score. Achieving a good score feels good and yes, inevitably we cheer if our score increases – it is after all a measurement of some progress. But the real aim is to learn and develop as a company and to fully embrace BCorp as part of our culture. When we first achieved BCorp our first-time score was 115, and that was a real achievement. Improving on that would be great, but knowing we’re putting in the work to improve our environmental impact, improving our transparency with employees or even doing more in the local community, would mean much more to us. We’re very proud that we have again been acknowledged as “Best for the World” in two key business areas: Governance and Customers. Best for the World means we are in the top 5% of companies of our size, worldwide!
As BCorp says: “Being recognised as one of the “Best for the World™” within the global B Corp community is so much more than just a badge of honour. It represents the opportunity to share the knowledge, learnings and best practices that have granted you that top score with the rest of the community, so we can all keep on making progress towards our common goal and vision: to collectively transform the global economic system to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.”
That’s what I really love about BCorp, the intention is always to give everyone the opportunity to talk and share best practice and great ideas.
So What Can Be Learned From The Process?
Well, we’re not perfect! Who’d have known? But we are working hard to do better. And B Corp offers a framework for us to plan and work towards specific goals.
We might not ever be perfect. What? Sometimes you have to do the best you can because doing everything to meet the perfect standards, might compromise the people you are trying to serve. There were for example one or two areas where we identified that, as an example, purchasing the most environmentally friendly materials to refurbish the properties purchased by our homelessness funds, would make them too expensive, which would reduce the number of properties we could then secure for those that need a home.
Formalise processes. It really makes everything simpler for everyone to understand and to apply to the business.
Involve your whole team – everyone has something to contribute. So many folk across the business had fantastic ideas and helped so much with the recertification. And they really want to get involved in applying the B Corp standards wherever possible in their day-to-day jobs. The movement has proved to be infectious!
Shout about what you’re doing and encourage others to get involved. Share what you’re doing with other businesses that you work with, and encourage where possible, all of your connections and partners to consider what they are doing to improve their social and environmental impact. Motivate others by your actions, not just your words.
Finally, I think the key lesson is don’t wait three years for your recertification. Really embed B Corp into your company’s operations and philosophy, and work on improvements throughout the three years between the recerts. That’s how we approached it, and it certainly helped make the recertification a much smoother process than it might otherwise have been.
Go on, join the movement and give it a go! You’ll be pleased you did.
You can also read Daniel’s blog here about his views on BCorp.
Sign up today and keep up to date with all our latest social impact news, innovations and insights so you never miss a thing.
Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
Disclaimer: This website does not contain, constitute, nor does it form part of, an offer to sell or purchase or a solicitation of an offer to sell or purchase, any securities, investments or financial instruments referred to herein or to enter into any other transaction described herein. Resonance is not providing, and will not provide, any investment advice or recommendation (personal or otherwise) to you in relation to any securities, investments or financial instruments or transactions described herein. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this website, neither Resonance nor its officers accept any liability for its contents or for any errors or omissions.