Last month, we proudly announced our recent certification as a B Corporation, marking a significant milestone for our company, three years after its inception.
For those who may not be familiar, becoming a B Corporation (or ‘B Corp’) involves meeting stringent criteria that assess your social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency at the highest standards.
To us, this represents more than a certification – it represents a powerful movement; a collective belief that businesses can serve as a force for good. B Corporations agree that it is a necessity to balance profit with purpose and make this part of their ongoing mission.
So, what does this mean in practical terms? Essentially, an independent organisation has conducted a comprehensive examination under the hood of our business, affirming our alignment with the B Corp values. There is a 200-point scorecard that covers Governance, Team, Community, Environment and Customers. You need to achieve a score of at least 80 to qualify for the formal assessment for B Corp certification.
While this sounds like a low hurdle, it’s not an easy feat, and showcases the depth of what the program covers. The highest ever B Corp score is 183, and that towers above the second best at 156. The average assessment for businesses is 51- far below the qualifying score. Preparing for and completing the assessment itself can take months, and the review process can extend over a year.
It is common today for people to build some level of social responsibility into their organisation, varying from intrinsic to cosmetic. Many will flaunt terms like “impact”, “CSR” or “ESG”, but it is important to separate yourself as a business that truly cares and takes action to show this. Joining a community of like-minded businesses and entrepreneurs, and proudly displaying the B Corp badge holds immense significance for us as it represents that we care about the people we employ, the people we don’t employ, and the planet.
The importance of becoming a socially conscious business was a mindset I inherited from my past, working with businesses such as Zambrero and Kinela, and the inspirational people who cared deeply about solving serious health inequities.
However, applying the same principles to our corporate advisory business proved to be more challenging. While we may not be engaged in the most apparent activities that directly align with social causes, we have actively pursued various avenues to make this a part of our business. Below is an insight into a number of our initiatives that help us qualify as a B Corp, and which might act as good inspiration for you:
- Carbon neutral business – our business practices are extremely low footprint, and we offset the remainder by subscribing to AirSeed Technologies’ sustainability business plan.
- Radical transparency when it comes to our financial performance and position. Openly sharing our board reports and financials which we present to the team every month.
- Promoting company ownership programs, in which our team members receive additional units for each year they remain with the business.
- Encouraging and rewarding the importance of health & wellness, and integrate that into our operating rhythm and benefits.
- Thinking intently about who we work with and ensure there is alignment, and offer preferential treatment to other B Corps.
- Pledging 1 per cent of our product, our time, and our profit to causes. We partner with Kiva microfinancing and work pro-bono/ low-bono for charities.
- Encouraging diversity and protect gender pay-gaps and high/low pay ratios.
- Strong cultural alignment, policies and frameworks that guide us as a team.
When it comes to your own assessment, my advice is to build your culture and business frameworks intently from day one. Don’t retrofit purpose - it won’t be authentic. From the very beginning we strived to be a business we could be proud to work at, so it was relatively incidental to qualify as a B Corp. For those that are interested in learning more and going on this journey, check out B Labs - there is a wealth of information on how you can get started and become a part of this important community.
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