Becoming a B Corporation - was it worth it?
After two years of trial and error and a few wrong turns (six months working on the wrong assessment form meant much of our initial score was rejected and then a necessary re-working of the assessment tool by B Lab meant our score got knocked back down again) we officially became a certified B Corporation this month. Yahoo! And boy, it was worth it.
The emotions are mixed, but all hugely positive. From excitement at the opportunities this brings us in terms of working with other businesses that seek to balance profit with people and planet, to the joy we feel at the achievement itself after two years of dedication to the process, it’s all been worth it. We also feel huge gratitude for all the support we’ve had along the way from members of the B Corp community, as well as B Lab itself, who run the B Corp certification.
We wanted to certify for many reasons, but the simplest reason is because we wanted to be a better business. We realised that it’s not just about the work you do for your clients that has the potential to positively impact, but it’s also how you operate as a business. When you add the two together things really begin to take shape.
What we didn’t realise, is just how much we’d learn along the way. As Matt Hocking, CEO of B Corp creative agency Leap said to us last week, the assessment is way more than a test, it’s a learning tool. And despite plenty of frustrating moments, we’d 100% agree with this. It’s a framework, it’s a lever, it’s an educator, it’s a motivator and it’s a jolly detailed starting off point. Yes, two years later, this really is just the start!
We’re a small, hands-on, hard-working business and as is so often the case with companies our size, there’s a tendency to shout “next!” on completion of a long-awaited goal, and swiftly move onto the next item on the list. Yet unlike other ventures we’ve embarked upon over the years, becoming B Corp certified feels very different. Here’s why. We see the certification as providing the platform and foundations to drive positive change in our small sector of the marketplace — the prize, reward and incentive industry. Our place in the world rests somewhere between the marketing industry (global FMCG brands and their marketing agencies are mostly our client base) and the travel industry (much of our product base). What this amounts to, in layman’s terms, is that we create bespoke and targeted experiences in the form of overseas holidays, UK breaks, sporting events, vouchers, VIP/money-can’t-buy experiences and goods, which brands use as prizes — either on their product packs in supermarkets, or used in social media campaigns as competitions, or on radio or TV as part of an on-air giveaway. They do this to stand out from the competition. Along with that, we also provide companies with experiences and group travel to use as incentives for employees — usually performance-driven.
Benefits, Illusions and a shift in focus
From an emotional and wellbeing perspective, there is much to gain from a travel experience; life education, job creation, reducing poverty, experiencing arts, culture and music, history, fun, play and adventure — not to mention relaxation, time out and personal development. And whilst we recognise that travel has huge benefits, we also recognise that it comes at a cost to the climate. We’re under no illusion that the emissions caused by flying are ever positive, but we have to begin somewhere. We’re aiming for 100% of the holidays we create to be climate positive this year. To achieve that, we’ve recently partnered with fellow B Corp ClimateCare, who turn our climate responsibilities into positive outcomes. Each quote we now produce invites our clients to carbon offset with ClimateCare. Our first carbon positive holiday prizes will be happening in the next month. This goes towards:
- Help to provide safe drinking water to 4 million people, whilst cutting carbon emissions by reducing the need to boil water through the LifeStraw Carbon for Water project in Kenya.
- Support 350 manufacturers and 500 retailers in Ghana to produce Gyapa stoves, cutting more than 3million tonnes of CO2 and saving 4.1million people more than $75 on their fuel bills.
- Support Burn Stoves in Kenya, cutting emissions, reducing toxic fumes & decreasing fuel bills. Provide women with skills & training, who make up more than 50% of the workforce.
- Support renewable wind farms in India, providing rural communities with clean, reliable energy.
Whilst our remit has always been to create remarkable experiences, our vision over the past 18 months has shifted in focus as a result of the B Corp journey we’ve been on. Alongside the vision of becoming carbon positive, we’re now seeking to provide more meaningful and transformative experiences that will inspire, educate, and more closely connect the people lucky enough to win them, either to the natural environment, local culture, or indeed to themselves through wellbeing initiatives and retreats. This is because we fundamentally believe that if we are to turn the tide on the problems facing humanity and the planet, we need to play our part in helping people rebuild their connections to others, to themselves and to the natural world.
When you start looking around, you’ll see that like us, there are many, many other UK businesses that are now beginning to realise that they have a responsibility beyond simply maximising profit. Being a force for good, including having a positive impact on employees, the local community and the world at large, as well as how we manage and store money (for example, we now partly bank with Triodos, an ethical B Corp bank) without inhibiting commercial success is absolutely possible. In our experience, it’s also hugely satisfying. People are increasingly environmentally and socially conscious, and with global clients now expecting their suppliers to have a point of view on these issues, B Corp certification can be a key differentiator in attracting talent as well as new business.
To maintain our certification, we’ll be reassessed every three years, so becoming a B Corp is a long-term and ongoing commitment, not a one-off achievement or tick in the box. Which is how we like it and how it should be. If you have any questions about our journey and want any help or advice, we’re very happy for you to get in touch.