We Are a B Corporation!
We've recently become a certified B Corporation. Huzzah!
There are over 600 of us in the UK now. You might have noticed the logo at Waitrose, who are promoting B Corp certified suppliers at the moment. For the uninitiated, what are they?
Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are companies verified by B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
The verification process you have to go through is pretty thorough and - for a small business - pretty time consuming. Quite how time consuming is evidenced by the consultancies which have sprung up to help you get the magical 80 points you need to score to become certified (we scored 90.1 and our highest perfoming sector was the environment, thank goodness!).
It has been interesting, though. I've felt curmudgeonly about some aspects of it because many of the requirements were second nature to us but I wasn't instantly able to quantify them. With hindsight, a useful lesson; we need to flaunt our credentials more. It has also got me thinking about corporate culture. While we're hardly enormous (5 at the last count!), we're employing more people, working part time and/or remotely, and this is going to be an increasing challenge.
I completely buy into the philosophy behind the scheme - it's part of the company's DNA - and I do think that it's the way forward. Corporates must meet their responsibilities to a range of stakeholders - not just shareholders - and minimise their impact on the environment.
They can minimise it but it's not possible, of course, to completely eradicate it. And I'm deeply sceptical of the various offsetting schemes available to companies, many of which just seem like greenwash.
Different types of business have different impacts too, of course. It's no accident that there's a disproportionately high number of B Corp companies in the service sector and a relatively small number of manufacturers.
It's also going to be incredibly difficult to assess the impact of products and their production on the environment, good and bad. I suspect B Corp is an early iteration of a much bigger movement to audit this kind of thing. The practical difficulties of assessing this kind of thing and of coming up with a relevant one size fits all approach are mind boggling.
Anyway, it's been a really helpful exercise and certainly clarified some parts of our mission. I hope too it might help us commercially; we've found it difficult in the past to find meaningful and relevant endorsement schemes, and B Corp certification ticks both boxes.