If you’re curious about what it takes to become a B Corp, look no further. In this webinar, Climbing Trees’ founder, Alex Holliman talked about the B Corp accreditation process with four business owners who went down B Corp route. They talked about their experience, challenges, and shared their best tips.
The webinar featured Anja Jones from translation and localisation agency, AJT, Derek McRae from print and communications company, Seacourt , Steve Goodwin, from design studio, GAS Studio, and Jo Spadaccino from pending B Corp, Stirred, who offer health communications, marketing and creative consultancy.
You can re-watch the webinar or read the summary below.
The webinar covers all the sections of the B Corp assessment tool which helps you measure your impact, with each guest sharing their views on how to succeed.
The first section of the assessment is ‘Governance; which looks at the practices around a company’s mission, ethics, accountability and transparency.
All the guests agreed looking at other B Corps, especially those relevant to your industry, can be of huge help. You can reach out to them for guidance and use what they did as a guideline. There are also many resources out there you can adapt to your company, as well as using the questions in the assessment to see where you need to implement new policies. However, it’s important to remember you want to make all policies relevant to your business.
“Take a look at what other companies have done rather than trying to re-invent the wheel completely.”Anja Jones – AJT
Finally the mission lock might be a critical step for you, followed by a mission report. Jo shared as part of their journey, they signed up to a mission lock straight away. Locking their intent into a legal framework helped them feel committed to the B Corp philosophy.
The next section is Community, looking at how your business contributes to the economic and social wellbeing of the communities in which it operates.
Steve shared GAS Studio scored particularly high in this section, one of the ways they did this is by serving under-represented groups. They also set out to give 5% of their time back to volunteer and mentor. Others have also set (or are aiming to set) certain quotas for staff to do charitable work, as well as focusing on charitable giving.
Finally, it’s crucial to look at inspiring and motivating your supply chain. Derek and Anja both shared they introduced a suppliers code of conduct.
The B Corp process might also push you to take positive action when looking at suppliers, and shift from only looking at their services to things such as ownership, geography or business practice.
“That’s the sign of our times, everyone is looking deeper. As consumers we do it and as B2B businesses we do it. And the B Corp process helps you to do that.”Jo Spadaccino, Founder at Stirred
The environment section addresses how your company can improve its overall environmental stewardship.
For those who work remotely, assessing their company’s environmental impact might be challenging.
Improving your environmental impact can start with setting up a team to lead the project. For instance, Anja shared AJT created a green committee, an employee led initiative to host sessions on environmental topics. Giki can also be a great tool for your team to identify how to optimise their carbon footprint.
Next it’s important to measure, track and monitor things such as waste, carbon and travel. It can be really helpful to establish KPIs around this to manage the overall performance.
This section looks at how your business contributes to your employees’ financial, physical, professional and social wellbeing.
To improve in this area your company should be looking after and incentivising employees as well as introducing new employees to the workforce.
The guests agreed on initiatives such as improving benefits, salaries (in line with the UK living wage foundation), and improving policies, among others. However, there is no mission without a margin and you have to balance what invest in your people with the profit you make.
“Profit allows you to look after staff and treat them fairly, from wellbeing to pay to training.”Alex Holliman, Managing Director at Climbing Trees
The final section looks at the value you create for direct customers and the consumers of your product or service.
Having an impact business model with demonstrable values will allow you to do really well in this section.
Steve found himself on this path, working with non-profits and promoting under-represented audiences. He has found it impactful to set early benchmarks with clients as part of this process.
Aside from that, really looking after and measuring your customer satisfaction is key. Setting up a client satisfaction survey can be an ideal way to do that and help you engage with your clients.
Some of the further advice centred around how to answer the assessment questions and gain the most out of the process to help your organisation become more purpose driven.
“The evaluation process is great. They’re not there to trip you up. They’re there to help you succeed”Steve Goodwin – Co-Founder & Strategic Creative at GAS Studio
Anja recommended the B Corp handbook as a great place to start. The guests also shared how the process changed their organisations and helped them succeed as a business by creating better structures.
The session ended with a Q&A session from the audience.
Useful B Corp Resources
- The B Corp Handbook – https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-b-corp-handbook/ryan-honeyman/tiffany-jana/9781523097531
- Working from home GHG emissions calculator https://drive.google.com/file/d/10_pjDJztLhxcAfSgzklctT-59ZO7ijA5/view
- B Leaders Directory for anyone looking to get outside help with the impact assessment – https://bleaders.uk/
- Understanding the legal governance side of things – https://betterbusinessact.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/IoD-CG-Centre-Amending-UK-Company-Law.pdf
- Digital declutter tool – https://www.wholegraindigital.com/digitaldeclutter/
About the panelists
Our panel represents a diverse group of business owners from different industry sectors. Our own experiences of the B Corp certification process are as unique as our companies are. And it will be the same for you. The aim of the session is to take a look at the most common challenges, regardless of company size and industry, and how to overcome them.
Anja is the Managing Director at AJT, a translation company specialised in localisation services for the European market. In 2020, they decided to embark on the journey to gain B Corp certification as a way to prove their social and environmental credentials to their customers, their team and the wider translation community. After scoring only 50 points in their initial self-assessment, they made becoming B Corp a strategic priority and achieved certification in July 2022, with a score of 87.8.
GAS Studio gained B Corp accreditation at the end of January 2022. As a brand and communications design duo, they managed their accreditation process internally. They were really grateful for existing B Corp agencies who encouraged from the sidelines, gave advice on persistence with the process and resources to freely adapt to their business.
Derek is a Director at Seacourt Ltd – the highest scoring B Corp printing company in the world. They help clients by printing their materials in a way that gives back more to the environment than they consume. They call this Planet Positive Printing. They spent the last 25 years continually improving our sustainable performance and becoming a B Corp was a must have. Since their accreditation in 2020, they have twice been recognised by B Corp as Best in World for the printing and recorded media sector.
Working life for Jo started in an in-house NHS communications role, before moving to the consultancy world. Tenures at four leading (but very diverse) health communications consultancies followed, before taking the plunge to start Stirred with co-founder Stuart Hehir. Stirred is a healthy hybrid agency driven by an ambition to match the innovation of the health sector with the communications innovation it deserves. Becoming a pending B Corp was one of their first actions as a new start-up business and one year on they haven’t looked back.
How can we help you?
We are always happy to hold conversations about becoming a B Corp. If you’d like to know more about the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to our founder, Alex Holliman, or the guests from our webinar.