B Corp is a certification given to organisations that meet a high standard of social and environmental performance, but it’s much more than that. It has formed parts of our strategy, our culture and forever changed our ways of working.
B Corp certification covers areas such as governance, people, customers, environment and community. When I embarked on this journey we had little evidence of anything other than our intent to do the right thing.
I was introduced to B Corp around three years ago by our Chair, Peter Beeby. We wanted to make sure our business model was sustainable and ultimately had a purpose. This required a shift in our approach.
When I initially worked through the B Corp certification progress - a rigorous questionnaire requiring in-depth knowledge of the business and operation. Our score initially came out at about 40 points... 80 is the magic number!
Immediately, I realised I needed help and that no one person - no matter who - could achieve the required standard alone. This had to have buy-in across the organisation.
At the time I started working with Paul Dickinson, an experienced consultant supporting our people plan. I talked him through the requirements of B Corp and he redefined our policies, handbook and people offer. Our ways of working and culture were documented and it was the first significant step forward.
I spoke to more people in the business and began to bring others on board to help document the work we were doing. Joe Ryalls played a pivotal part in collating various pieces of information needed for our carbon measures which we used to achieve Planet Mark status in 2021.
We spoke to other B Corps, many of our partners are already in the community - Invivo, Activated Probiotics (Biome Australia Limited) and Wild Nutrition to name a few. I also have a close relationship with one of the highest-scoring B Corps in the North of England, One+All, where we have shared ideas and followed their approach in many areas.
Throughout this period, we spent time refining the application, adding additional evidence and planning the next steps. Earlier this year, we exceeded the required 80 points and started the verification process.
In the meantime, we continued our work with Planet Mark and set up a 'Green Team' to support our sustainability goals. We are now joining forces and sharing best practices across the company. Emma Nettleship is taking the lead in the UK and Yanti Rangkuti in the EU Office. We have shared updates on how we have supported local food banks, our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, and observed the impressive work carried out on the Dutch office achieving the highest rating possible for energy efficiency, a great achievement by Robert van Hunsel and the team.
More and more colleagues are joining the sessions and their ideas are forming parts of our future strategy.
What I will stress is that we are not perfect, there are hundreds of initiatives that we need to improve upon and as a company we are making some real headway.
Becoming a B Corp has made me immensely proud, not only as a personal achievement but the sense that it has brought the organisation together with a common goal ... to be better.
My advice, make sure you measure your impact. Whether this is your carbon footprint or your colleagues’ satisfaction, it all matters. And create a plan that you can influence. Speak to other like-minded companies and don’t beat yourself up if it isn’t perfect. But most of all do something, sitting back isn’t an option anymore.