On the first day of spring and as part of the B Corp Month 2023 celebrations, Seismic hosted an online breakfast briefing, live-streamed to our international audience. Seismic and an incredible panel of leading B Corp businesses dove into this year’s theme – Go Beyond – finding that ‘collaboration’ was undoubtedly the word of the day.
Our panel shared insights on how their businesses go beyond, the strength there is in measuring, collaborating and how being part of the B Corp community breaks down barriers.
Introduction to B Corp
B Corps are businesses that Go Beyond by meeting high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Olivia Jennings and Amy Bourbeau opened the session by defining what B Corp is:
- Management Tool – used by 200,000+ organisations to understand, improve and measure their global impact.
- Certification – verified by an independent 3rd party to meet high standards of social and environmental performance.
- Community – 6,500+ businesses from 161 industries around the world.
- Movement – that believes business can and should be used as a force for good.
Seismic have worked with some huge B2C and B2B brands, that have gone on to become B Corps, but size doesn’t matter. Smaller organisations can equally benefit from the framework.
B Corp Month
The growth rate of new B Corps is accelerating and the UK currently has the fastest-growing community in the world. There are now over half a million people in the UK working for B Corps. B Corp Month is a time for the community to unite and to raise awareness of what B Corp is, with this year’s umbrella theme being about demonstrating how B Corps Go Beyond.
Catherine Draper, B Lab UK, added that it’s a chance for the community to celebrate together, build awareness and discuss what it means to them. Building an understanding of B Corp helps to strengthen trust and credibility in the certification. It gives everyone in the community a chance to engage more and hopefully model how businesses can take action to understand the need for cultural change.
This is a chance for us to make a mark on the world, through educating and harnessing engagement from beyond the community.
Last year 70% of UK B Corps got involved in B Corp Month, there were social campaigns, pop-up shops on Oxford Street, 30 mentions in national publications and a national billboard campaign reaching millions of people. B Corp Month is an opportunity for companies to look outside their four walls and reach new audiences.
“It’s a community, it’s a global movement; No B Corps work in a silo, so the impact is collaborative.”
– Catherine Draper, Community Manager at B Lab UK
Helping businesses leverage B Corp beyond certification
Seismic exists to help change society for the better and we believe B Corp is the best way to do that. Everything we do is about helping businesses to prosper by becoming an increasingly impactful force for good. We leverage B Corp beyond certification, using it with our clients irrespective of certification.
The certification is a significant part, but actually, you can achieve so much through the B Corp framework and community. Whether you’re certified or not there is a lot that can come from getting involved in this movement and doing business differently. If you want help leveraging B Corp beyond certification, take a look at our B Corp services that Seismic can offer your business.
innocent Drinks are an example of an organisation going beyond. They have a measurement tool that spans global sites, supporting workers in the same way and reporting and collecting information on working together as a team, no matter the location.
They’ve created ‘B Keeper’ roles, to cross-pollinate and keep B Corp living and breathing. This is essential to ensure B Corp isn’t forgotten about or falls off the agenda, resulting in lots of pressure to rectify it. They’ve included sustainability in their company’s scorecards, linking them to bonuses. And a very admirable thing they’ve done is keep two chairs empty in all board rooms – to represent the environment and society. This encourages them to think about people and the planet in all decision-making processes.
Piper, are a private equity firm that is B Corp certified. They work to inspire their portfolio of brands and support them to get on this journey too. They’ve worked hard to create a Sustainability Community to become a force to influence change in their local areas.
Amy also spoke of other organisations in medical science and retail, that are doing amazing things, like attaching executive bonuses to ESG frameworks, prioritising regional training, building partnerships and amending their goal-setting. All to inspire change through positive performances.
Amy then turned to the panel, which included leaders from B Lab UK and B Corps Finisterre and Sipsmith Gin, and began the conversation about how they Go Beyond.
Why does being a certified B Corp matter to your business?
Adele Gingell, Finisterre – Our founding principles were about the environment and people so B Corp resonated with us so much. We knew this would help our business grow, in the right way. It’s given us structure and strengths in alignment through the impact assessment, a focus on our workers, how we communicate with our customers and in-house policies. It’s enabled us to reflect on every aspect of the business and that’s another huge reason why we champion the movement. And of course, the community is amazing and with help from people like Amy at Seismic we’ve made invaluable progress.
Sam Galsworthy, Sipsmith – It was the team within our organisation who brought it to our attention and our obsession with growth was only going to be supported by this certification. It was going to help us gain a new perspective on what the right kind of growth is for our business. We could then look our stakeholders in the eyes and explain this would be the platform to massively increase our handprint on the local community to offer more support, and better manage our relationships with the hospitality industry and our supply chains. Within the very aggressive gin market, this has given us a competitive edge and transformed our culture.
“We knew [B Corp] would help our business grow, in the right way.”
– Adele Gingell, Head of Positive Impact at Finisterre
How does the collective B Corp movement, as a whole, Go Beyond?
Catherine Draper, B Lab UK – It’s a community, it’s a global movement; No B Corps work in a silo, so the impact is collaborative.
B Corps have been uniting during B Corp Month. There was a large coming together on a farm in Northamptonshire, there have been beach cleans and a city litter pick-up. It’s really inspiring to see the collaborative elements of the community growing together.
At B Lab UK we’re busy working on the Better Business Act, a campaign to change UK Law to ensure every business is aligning with the interests of the wider society and environment. Follow the link to learn more, and badger your MPs for change.
What innovative ways have you improved your impact?
Adele – The people we partner with are the innovative route, these collaborative projects are making a difference. We know we can’t do everything on our own, so we partnered with a company that had the technology to make a marine, biodegradable packaging bag. Looking at what we can do together, whether it’s fabric and farming or partnerships within our supply chains, we’re constantly shifting the dial. Our creativity comes from a desire to achieve better things and break away from the standard clothing industry, like taking more responsibility for clothes at the end of their life too. We experiment and aren’t afraid to make mistakes. We’re only human.
How do you inspire your network and partners?
Sam – The most fun we have is working in partnership with other people. We wanted to get into Waitrose and they weren’t letting us in (because of the existing gin shelf saturation). We came up with a partnership that led to gin and tonic ice cream and that innovation got us through the door. This is an example of how partnerships encourage sharing and transparency. We learnt about how they trace their supply chain and how they treat their suppliers. We learnt a lot and shared a lot along the way.
How are B Corps giving back and going beyond?
Catherine – They come together regionally and locally to discuss issues around them and work on solutions. They cover issues like homelessness and environmental issues. They think about how businesses can collaborate with each other, their cities and local Governments and charity groups. This is leading to deep dives into problem-solving and understanding their impact. It’s really inspiring.
What do we want to see more businesses do?
Catherine – It’s all about collaboration and thinking beyond our personal targets and goals. When we come together with competitors, for example, we can better identify struggles and come up with solutions together. We need to reach out more.
Sam – More corporate activism and critical friendship. We need to promote individuals and sections of the company to hold boards and decision-makers to account. If we can role model this from the top down we can really embed it in the culture and generate a transformation.
Adele – Allowing your team to speak up, and then listen to what’s important to them, is essential. It goes beyond the product, we are looking at carbon footprint, support from Seismic and recycling our IT equipment. The B Corp journey can help with figuring out how to improve. You just need to be resilient and keep measuring everything.
Going beyond business as usual, together
This event brought to the surface the variety of ways companies can go beyond their own agendas to make a difference. The goals don’t have to be global, they can be local to you, or begin with what’s important to your team and company culture. It seems collaboration is the name of the game, as the old adage goes we are stronger together… and that’s a grounding philosophy of B Corp.
Top takeaways from this event
To support your business to ‘go beyond‘ immediately, remember these four tips:
- Measuring is a great first step, you can’t improve on what you don’t know.
- Change the way you challenge people, both up and down the ranks.
- Break down barriers, with your community and environment.
- Come together with those who may be seen as competitors, there is so much value in coming together over shared challenges and it may be easier to find solutions together.