Should your B-rand, become more B-Corp? Learnings for a more responsible business.


With the UK Parliament on the brink of declaring a climate emergency, 2019 is the year that sustainability has finally become mainstream.

Wired magazine pointed out recently; “It’s not just governments that can declare a climate emergency – businesses can too. And while many accuse businesses of being the enemy of the climate movement, there are growing opportunities for companies that are committed to being part of the solution”.

In fact, 86% of people believe companies should take a stand on social issues.

Buying on belief, is a trend across all generations. With more than half of people aged 16 to 54 saying they’d pay more for a sustainable product, it’s a change that’s here to stay.

What does this mean for brands?

Well, your customers want you to be part of the solution, and they want to see those lofty promises of brand purpose put into practice too.

In order to stay relevant and grow you must deliver on your ethical promises.

We decided to start practising what we preach when we started our B-Corp certification process a couple of months ago.

B-Corps are a community of companies that use the power of business as a force for good. The aim is to create a sustainable, inclusive economy by reducing poverty and inequality, creating high-quality jobs and a healthier environment.

However, as I discovered at the Dot Dot Dot anti-conference in Ibiza last year, becoming a B-corp is not a rubber stamp, it’s a new way of thinking and acting.

While we’re only at the beginning of this never ending journey, we’ve already learned a lot.

If you too want to have a more positive impact on your employees, communities, and the environment, here are six key areas you can think about now:

#1  Reduce your environmental footprint

Can you put any programs in place to reduce the environmental footprint caused by your employee's travel and commuting?

Do they really need to be trekking to the office, or could remote working be viable some or all of the time for some team members?

Do they need to be using their cars, or could you incentivise them to cycle, using one of the various Cycle to Work schemes?

On a smaller scale, what’s your workplace policy for recycling?

Are you guilty of leaving every single electrical item plugged in, and did you know that if the Internet was a country, it would rank sixth in the world for electricity use?

Small positive changes are still meaningful.

#2  Subsidise childcare

British parents pay some of the highest childcare costs in the world.

While only 5% of UK businesses offer on-site provision, 85% of parents believe ‘large’ companies (those with more than 250 employees) should be subsidising childcare.

Not only is it good for families, but it helps remove barriers to some of the brightest and best talent, especially women.

#3 Aim for financial transparency

How and does your company formally share financial information with full-time employees? Yearly? Quarterly? Sporadically? Never…? 😕

Do you have any education programme around those shared financials?

Do you publicly report your financial statements?

If you’re not being transparent, it’s difficult to expect anyone to trust you completely.

#4 Engage and be inclusive

What kind of culture and working environment are you creating?

Do you use professional development as a means to retain staff and promote inclusion?

Are you offering benefits packages that suit the needs of your workforce?

Remember, just because you find something valuable doesn’t mean it will actually be of use to your employees.

That banging discount you’ve negotiated with the local pub is worse than useless if your team are teetotal.

#5 Build a diverse business

Are you a bunch of straight middle-class white guys?

Shockingly, in our industry alone only 11.4% of roles are filled by black, Asian and minority ethnic people, and there is a well documented problem of inaccessibility to the sector for people from working-class backgrounds.

Are you failing to attract or retain a diverse range of candidates?

What are you doing about it?

If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, D&AD have an ever-expanding list of companies, programmes and initiatives working to buck the trend.

#6 Use your purchasing power

From energy to emails, not to mention banking, office space, even coffee, your organisation can be part of the solution by working with ethical suppliers.

If you’re not keen on your current provider’s ethics, then The B-Corp Directory is a good place to start looking for alternatives.

The bottom line – small steps make a meaningful difference

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy but it is necessary, and we should never underestimate the power of small incremental changes, both to our brands and to the world around us.

At a time when we’re all striving to be purpose-driven, becoming a B-Corp demonstrates true leadership. Purpose in practice or what?!

I’ll be reporting back on our journey as we get further along, but in the meantime, if there’s anything you’d like to add to the conversation, why not join me at The Ned?

I’ll buy the coffee, and together we can put the world to rights 😉

Danny SomekhComment