What is a B Corp?
Simply put, certified B Corps are companies who are committed to prioritising the environment and society in the way they do business.
They are independently assessed to ensure they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. The certification process is rigorous, and B Corps are continually re-assessed and required to pass the re-certification process every 3 years. This ensures that B Corps are always held to account – continually monitoring their impact and trying to improve the way they do business, for the benefit of people and planet.
There are a lot of sustainability certifications out there, and it can be confusing to determine which ones carry weight. Becoming a B Corp is about growing a business in the right way and is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance.
Becoming a B Corp
In early 2019 we made a commitment to becoming a certified B Corp. The B Corp mission: ‘force for good’, resonates strongly with us and how we want to operate.
The B Corp assessment is made up of five categories:
Governance (e.g. mission, corporate accountability and company documentation)
Workers (e.g. benefits, training, communication and culture)
Community (e.g. job creation, diversity and inclusion and civic engagement)
Environment (e.g. energy, waste and water and environmental management systems)
Customers: For companies who provide a social or economic service directly to customers.
There are 200+ questions in the B Corp assessment and certification requires a score of ≥80.
Building a better business
Our baseline assessment in June 2019 gave us a result of 53.5 points, which helped us to identify areas in which we needed to improve. Increasing our score was a difficult task that required us to make some significant changes to how we operate our business to provide greater benefit to all our stakeholders including our people, clients, community and the environment. Outlined below are some of the improvements we have implemented that contributed to our B Corp certification journey:
Amended our Articles of Association to formally consider our employees, the community and the environment
Created a formal mission statement, including a commitment to delivering energy and carbon savings through the provision of our services to clients
Integrated social and environmental performance into decision-making through new job descriptions, performance reviews and company Board Meetings
Promoted ethical decision-making through the implementation of a written Code of Ethics
Introduced salary bands across the business to encourage progression and increase transparency
Have a <5x ratio for highest paid employee to lowest paid employee
Became a Living Wage employer, ensuring that all sub-contractors, staff and suppliers are paid the Living Wage
Began measuring diversity metrics, including ethnicity, gender and age
Started an Internship programme and partnership with the University of the West of England (UWE)
Implemented a more flexible working environment to help improve work/life balance
Implemented an annual employee engagement survey process to measure engagement and satisfaction
Introduced a £1,000 training budget for all employees
Year-on-year job growth rate exceeds 25%
Implemented a Responsible Sourcing Policy to encourage using local businesses to purchase goods and services
Recruited a diverse workforce that reflects the communities that we operate in
Implemented a Volunteering Policy to encourage employees to volunteer with local charities/initiatives
Used technology and remote working to minimise unnecessary travel
Implemented a Responsible Sourcing Policy to ensure that all goods and services purchased are environmentally preferred, including recycled/environmentally preferred office supplies
Created a Hazardous Waste Policy to ensure printer cartridges and e-waste are disposed of responsibly
Performed a Materiality Assessment and created a Sustainability Strategy to focus our efforts
Produced and published an annual Sustainability Report showing our social and environmental performance
Following our assessment in March 2020, we were able to realise the extent of these improvements: our score had increased by 44.5 to 98.0 points, meeting the required score for certification.
Becoming a certified B Corp in April 2020 was a proud moment for us. Being part of the B Corp community means we stand shoulder to shoulder with others who share our values; learning from each other and collaborating to reap the rewards of our shared expertise.
The journey to be a force for good doesn’t stop with our B Corp certification. We have ambitions in 2020 and beyond to improve our score even further, with a focus on Net Zero, improving our parental policies, creating management processes for sub-contractors, ensuring that all employees use their volunteering entitlement (1 day per annum) and increasing our employee engagement score to >90%.
To find out more about our journey take a look here.