Doing Well By Doing Good- The Rise of B Corps

Written by: Caroline Harridence, Counting Clouds

The world is changing and so are people’s attitudes towards businesses. There is a growing urgency for businesses to take action to become more socially and environmentally aware and to become more responsible and sustainable. But what does this actually mean and how is it achievable?

How do we do well by doing good?

The Importance of Sustainability

Improving corporate social and environmental performance is racing up the agenda for many businesses and it has never been so important. There is an increased awareness of ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance and companies need to reappraise how they operate and go about their activities throughout the business. The need to take action and make changes to become a more sustainable business is being fueled by many parties including shareholders, employees, the Government and investors.

The media regularly includes coverage of sustainability issues that are impacting the world and that highlights the need for action. The recent report on climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPPC) is an example of such coverage which outlined the frightening speed at which the climate is changing and stressed that action has to be taken urgently.

Over recent years there has been an increase in businesses that are striving to have a positive impact on the world. These businesses are looking beyond profit and instead are taking into account people and the planet too. They consider the impact of the decisions that they make and are building sustainable purpose-led businesses that are a force for good.

These businesses have seen many benefits of balancing profit with purpose including retaining and attracting employees, cost savings, improved productivity, and attracting new customers.

The Better Business Act

The importance of business sustainability is increasing and it is highly likely that ESG reporting will be mandatory for all UK companies in the future. This is being fueled by The Better Business Act which will transform how business is conducted in the UK through changing Section 172 of The Companies Act.

The Better Business Act aims to change the UK legislation so that the directors of all UK companies regardless of their size have a legal obligation to operate in a way that benefits all stakeholders, including employees, communities, customers and the environment while seeking to deliver profits for shareholders.

The Better Business Act will mean that every single UK company, regardless of their size, will have to take ownership of its social and environmental impact. More than 700 UK companies have signed up to and are supporting the Better Business Act and this includes Waitrose, innocent and the Institute of Directors.

Finance professionals have a key role to play both from an external regulatory and reporting point of view and, through ensuring that the right information is available and the key metrics are monitored, to assess the impact that the business is making. They need to make sure that this information is up to date and available in a format that is easily understandable by the end-user.

What is B Corp?

One way to focus and improve the social and environmental impact of a business is to become a B Corp organisation.

B Corporations (or B Corps) are businesses that hold themselves to the highest standards of social and environmental performance, governance, transparency, and legal accountability. They are purpose-led businesses that are committed to managing and improving their practices to be more socially and environmentally aware and become a force for good.

There are more than 4,000 B Corps worldwide and over 400 in the UK across 48 industries. The UK is one of the fastest-growing B Corp communities worldwide and includes household names such as Ella’s Kitchen, Coutt’s, Bulb and innocent.
There are many benefits of becoming a B Corp including –
●      Build credibility;
●      Attract talent;
●      Attract investors; and
●      Be part of a growing community.

In order to achieve certification, it is necessary to go through a comprehensive accreditation process. B Corp is not just focused on environmental concerns and it reviews the whole business across five areas of governance, workers, environment, community, and customers. It is necessary to work through a number of tailored questions that measure performance across each of these business areas and, once completed, you receive a score. If you have achieved the minimum 80 points required, you can submit your application for verification.

The process is intentionally challenging and only 1 in 3 applicants that submit for certification will certify. However, B Corp trains individuals (B Leaders) to support businesses throughout their B Corp certification. It is extremely beneficial to have the help and support of a B Leader as they are familiar with the process and pitfalls and can help guide businesses on their B Corp journey.

About the Author:

Caroline Harridence is a finance professional with over 25 years of experience. She runs her own business where she is the portfolio finance director for purpose-led businesses. She has also gone through the B Corp certification for her own business and is a trained B Leader who assists and supports businesses and accounting firms on becoming B Corp certified organisations.
If you are interested in speaking to Caroline about the support she can give, please email her at
carolineh@countingclouds.co.uk

iMultiply Webinar – The B Corp Jounrey

Businesses are becoming increasingly more focused on their social and environmental impact and this trend is predicted to continue. There has been a growing increase in the number of UK companies seeking B Corp certification in order to become more responsible and purpose-led businesses. Please join Caroline Harridence on Tuesday 5th October where she will be discussing this topic and also going into more detail about B Corp, the benefits of being a B Corp certified business, and what the certification process entails. Register here

The B Corp Journey - iMultiply webinar

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