The Road to B Corp
Doing the hard work is a big part of becoming a better business, and it doesn’t just happen on its own.
Strangely, the process of becoming a B Corp, despite the blood, sweat and tears can make the process easier. After over a year of solid toil, we completed our B Corp assessment in February 2021, and have now joined the long queue to hear a positive result.
Having spent the last 4 or 5 years seeking out and working with clients that challenged how capitalism could work better for the environment and our society, from plant-based food to ethical fashion, becoming a B Corp seemed like a logical next step in our own path towards sustainability.
There was a suggestion that the B Corp marque itself would help us attract like-minded clients and reinforce our message of change.
Most importantly, it would help to tell clients, future clients and our colleagues and suppliers that we were serious about it all, and were willing to put our money where our mouths (and efforts) were.
The journey began in earnest in late 2019.
I’d read a book by Ed Gillespie, who started the sustainable change agency Futerra, and he very kindly introduced us to Sarah Holloway, who would become an important part of our path towards sustainability.
We spent some time mapping out together how we could create the greatest impact, given our experience and practise, and decided that beginning the B Corp process was the best way to start.
Sarah’s finest insight was that the B Corp assessment was essentially a free environmental and social consultancy. A rigorous set of guidelines that helps businesses understand their impact, and change their practises for the better.
The assessment itself involves fulfilling a long series of criteria around Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers.The questions in each section delve deeply into your business, its purpose and policies and involved us completely rewriting our Code of Ethics, Employee Handbook, Environmental Policy, Mission Statement and establishing a series of KPIs related to our new strategy.
Importantly, it asked us to change our legal standing as a company from a Shareholder Focussed Business, to a Stakeholder Focussed Business - a business where all of the Stakeholders of the business - owners, employees, suppliers and customers are all considered in the decision making process.
This change all becomes very real when we rewrote our Articles of Association, and submitted them to Companies House.
So was it worth it?
Absolutely. The process has helped us transform The Plant into a business that can use its experience and expertise to help our clients understand their issues around sustainability, and begin to effect real change.
Although, having said that, if our assessment comes back negative, we reserve the right to change our minds...