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Why becoming a B Corp is the next big thing in business

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Georgina Wilson-Powell

1 March 2018

February was B Corp month. But are you in the loop? We look at what a B Corp is and why it’s important for the future of your business, no matter what industry you’re in.

Who said being good to the planet isn’t good for business. Recent research has shown that British B Corp brands are growing at 28 times faster than the national average and 85% of them feel that becoming a B Corp has been good for business.

What is a B Corp?

B Corp is a global movement of pioneering companies that are using their business as a force for good. The international certification needed to become a B Corp is some of the most rigorous out there but it means for the companies who are accredited they are some of the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly out there, and that is cemented into every level of their business from top to bottom. The standards are the same whether your business is in America or Afghanistan.

“Today’s most exciting businesses are operating for the benefit of all who contribute to its success - for shareholders and for stakeholders - and as such they are taking responsibility for their broader impact on employees, on communities and on the planet. This is the future of business,” says Katie Hill, Executive Director, B Lab UK.

Each company is accredited by the not for profit B Lab who work on four principles of interdependence: that companies must be the change they wish to see in the world; that all businesses operate as if people and place matters; that products, practices, profits and businesses should do no harm and benefit all and realise we are dependent on each other, responsible for each other and future generations.

There is a fast growing network of British brands who want to be on the right side of history. In the last three years, 150 companies have joined B Corp (there are 2,400 globally). Ben & Jerry’s is a B Corp, as is Divine Chocolate, Ella's Kitchen and as of last month, so is Cornish surf brand, Finisterre, who are the first European surf brand to become a B Corp.

Finisterre Rnli Pebble Magazine4

Finisterre is the first European surf brand to become a B Corp

Fly the flag for the planet

B Corp is a very visible, growing in recognition way of cementing what many great businesses do already, like Finisterre. It’s like achieving an international award for helping the planet,

“When I started Finisterre in 2003, I laid down our founding commitments – to people, product and the environment - we have lived and breathed these every day for the last 15 years,” explains Tom Kay, Finistrerre’s founder. “We wanted to gain B Corps certification as an affirmation of these founding commitments and the past 15 years, whilst giving us more to work towards for the future.”

“It won’t really change anything in terms of why we exist as a business, but what it does add is legal commitment through our articles of association to the triple bottom line and a long term responsibility to our customers, employers, suppliers and the environment. In this respect, it’s a great accolade that we really are doing what we say we are doing.”

What benefits does being a B Corp bring?

“Being part of global movement of like minded companies who use business as a force for good is energising. We’re not in this alone – we have the B Corp community behind us – over 2400 other businesses in more than 50 countries. We learn from each other, and collectively we have significant influence to create positive change.

It is also an external recognition that we are an ethical business. You don’t have to take our word for it – the proof is in the certification process’” says Sebastian Pole, Co-Founder of Pukka Herbs.

"We think one day companies will not only compete to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. That’s what being a B Corp is all about"

Get yourself on the roadmap

Going green is a complex business. B Corp has a lengthy set of criteria that covers both people and planet that any company who wants certification must meet. But the good news is that in doing so, you’ll be one of the most sustainable businesses around.

“Rebel Kitchen is a conscious business. We put people before profit and we think of collective wellbeing over shareholder interests. However, even with a vision like ours and an authentic will to do good, applying this to business is a complex task. B Corp provides us with a roadmap to help us along our way to make sure we are always conscious of our social and environmental impact,” says Tamara Arbib, co-founder and MD, Rebel Kitchen.

“To become certified as a B Corp almost straight off the bat is a real testament to the fact that we have set up our business in the right way from the start.

“We think one day companies will not only compete to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. That’s what being a B Corp is all about – being part of a movement of businesses doing things the right way.”

Plastic Free Tea Pukka

Pukka says being a B Corp "cements our ongoing commitment to using business as a force for good"

Network with the right people

B Corp isn’t just an easy way to spot a sustainable brand or company, it encourages the businesses who sign up to be motivated by each other as well. There are regular B Corp events for businesses that are certified and those that are looking into it.

"B Corp has an incredible ethos of using business as a force for good. We’re always striving to do things better - for our team, the planet and the people within it. And there’s certainly a strength in being part of a community on this same mission. Getting certification is validation that we’re growing in the right way but, more than that, it’s motivation to do more. This year we’ll be working hard to build an even better business and knowing we have the support and encouragement of the impressive B Corp line-up is amazing,” says Ryan Kohn, co-founder of PROPERCORN.

81% of British B Corps say they gained certification to join a community of like-minded businesses and almost half (46%) of B Corp brands say they have already benefited from creating more partnerships with like-minded businesses since certifying.

“Being part of global movement of like-minded companies who use business as a force for good is energising. We’re not in this alone – we have the B Corp community behind us – over 2,400 other businesses in more than 50 countries. We learn from each other, and collectively we have significant influence to create positive change,” adds Pole at Pukka Herbs.

Attract more engaged employees

With more and more people wanting to work for companies that really do good and engage with the environment, a B Corp certification proves your heart is on your sleeve when it comes to the sustainable stuff. Almost half (48%) of UK B Corps have found that prospective employees are attracted to their businesses specifically because they know the company is a B Corp.

“Internally at Pukka being a B Corp is highly motivational. We are all part of something bigger than Pukka. We are part of a movement for social change. We’ve even had our first B Corp recruits through the door. Ethically minded people who choose to work for a B Corp,” explains Pole.

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