A B Corp certification is given to businesses that are committed to promoting social and environmental change through positive business practices. We officially received our B Corp status in February 2020.
So what does this mean and why is it important? In this post, we’re going to explore the current business environment in the UK, the challenges we’re facing and how you can take action to make a difference.
Is capitalism broken?
It’s been a tricky few years for business hasn’t it?
Right now, in the UK, we’re facing galloping retail inflation, a customer service crisis caused by staff shortages and the real risk of energy shortages over the winter.
And we’re barely out of the complexities of Covid-19 with its enforced lockdowns and ever-changing health guidelines.
By now you might have forgotten about Brexit, though if you’re importing or exporting it’s likely to be changing every aspect of your taxation, certification and product licensing.
Meanwhile, we have a Prime Minister who’s on garden leave at the taxpayers’ expense and a power struggle at the heart of the ruling party.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed.
What’s the alternative?
In the face of so much turmoil, it’s easy to wonder what one person (or business) can do. Most people will opt to go with the flow and focus on survival.
Yet this chaos gets to the heart of why we became a B Corp. Businesses do have a voice.
Not only do we have a voice individually, but when we are part of a vibrant community it’s possible to drive real, positive, change.
At the heart of the B Corp approach is a philosophy that business is about more than just money.
Yes, most B Corps are “for profit” and owned by shareholders. But alongside this, we recognise that community and environment are of equal importance.
Show me the results
Being a B Corp isn’t just empty posturing either.
There is so much research showing that consumers increasingly demand ethical standards from businesses they choose to spend with.
Employees too want to do meaningful work, with a majority in the UK now asking whether their employer has the right credentials for them.
New insight from the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Responsibility shows that companies with ESG goals (environmental, social, governance) outperformed others during the Covid pandemic.
Despite what Sunak and Truss would have us believe, it’s simply not true that company owners need to choose between “doing the right thing” and being successful. The evidence shows the opposite is true.
Why is B Corp certification important?
B Corp certification is arguably the toughest criteria in the ESG world. If you want to prove to investors, employees or consumers that you’re serious about your corporate responsibility goals, then there is no better demonstration than the B Corp certification.
But millions of businesses are doing great things in ESG without feeling the need to prove it this way. Those that quietly get on with it probably have a bigger impact than the relatively small number who are B Corps.
So we’re massively supportive of anybody who believes their business can make a difference, whether that’s in the way they recruit and support staff, their environmental footprint or their treatment of suppliers and customers.
Interestingly, an increasing number of entrepreneurs are starting their business with the express intent of fixing a societal problem. For them, from day one it’s explicitly about more than just the money.
What are my alternatives to B Corp?
There are different certifications out there that also recognise businesses that are playing their part in creating a better world:
The Good Business Charter (founded by Julian Richer of Richer Sounds fame) is as simple as they come. It’s a ten-point commitment that you can complete in 15 minutes.
This simplicity broadens its appeal, with the City of York being – perhaps surprisingly – one of the organisation’s members.
The Better Business Act is something else you can sign up to. It’s a campaign group lobbying for it to become law that businesses consider the environment and community alongside simply making money for shareholders.
Based close to us, in Marlow, CSR Accreditation is an ESG certification that emphasises the good things your business is already doing. Again, it helps focus your energy on realistic steps you can take to make a difference.
The power of numbers
When you join any of these organisations you become part of a business community. If you choose to attend their events you get to meet other people who are as determined as you to make a difference.
By supporting them your voice is amplified, and together we have more opportunity to make government and institutions sit up and take notice.
Importantly, it restores a sense of control. Yes, relentless bad news can be overwhelming, but when you join an organisation like this, you realise you’re not alone.
There are others out there who are every bit as determined to make a difference as you are.
Are you interested in attending our B Corp networking events?
Follow our LinkedIn page to be notified of upcoming events.