To B Corp, or not to B Corp, must we ask the question?

Good intentions are mortal and perishable things, difficult to keep. So is cheese.

3 mins

So this is another one of those B Corp posts. I’m seeing more of them pop up on LinkedIn – the ones that go, “we’ve started our B Corp journey and we’ll keep you updated about how we’re doing”.

B Corp – in case you’re not aware, is a certification that shows a company giving a monkey’s about its community, the environment, and its people. And we like the idea of that. To be a company that can prove it holds itself, its suppliers, and its clients to a spectacularly high standard? Well, that’s just good for everyone.

This movement has been on our radar ever since 2018, when a client asked if it was something we’d consider. The suggestion was that perhaps it would help our cause in winning the project if we did (although we won it anyway). And when another startup appeared to be granted B Corp status as it incorporated, we thought to ourselves, ‘how hard can this be?’

We’ve been answering that question for a few months now. Perhaps disheartenedly, an early clue came from a surprising number of knowing individuals who all puffed out their cheeks, raised an eyebrow, and exclaimed something along the lines of, ‘Good luck with that!’

Another clue is from all the other companies who like us, trumpet the start of their journey: we never see a second blog post from them. Ever.

So here we are. We have started our B Corp journey and this is the blog post about it. Will it be the only post? I genuinely can’t answer that. We started down this road months ago and obviously, I’d like to see this through to completion.

But I’m a pragmatist; this B Corp thing is really hard. Not because we’re a massive corporate ship that needs to steer out of the wind… but because it involves quite a lot of stuff that we’ve never done or ever thought about. And we’ve never thought about these things not because we’re some maleficent entity (we hope), it’s just that we’ve never really had to think about these things until now.

A year ago or so we started reading around the environmental impact of the work we were doing. And that was alarmingly high. So, while we look at how to reduce our portfolio’s carbon footprint, holding ourselves to the B Corp standard has simply begun to make a lot more sense to us.

These B Corp things, then, are good things to think about. Honourable things. And quite frankly, necessary things. From amending our articles of association, to auditing our suppliers, looking at our sustainability credentials, reflecting on our hiring process, to having a share structure for the team – this is going to take us on a journey of corporate reflection unlike any we’ve ever been on. Plus, once we’ve put all of these things in place, we’ve got to demonstrate that we continue to abide by them – every year – to keep the certification.

And that’s an effort, especially for a small firm like us. But to be difficult is exactly the point. There’s too much green-washing and performative ESG initiatives cluttering up my LinkedIn feed already. This should be more difficult than paying a few quid and filling out a form like some obnoxious, second-rate industry award! After all, the B stands for Benefit, not Bellend.

Thus, there’s a very real chance we won’t get to the B Corp pending status. As it happens we’re scoring averagely at the moment, so we’ve got to crack on and do a lot better…

But for us it’s about the process, not the badge nor recognition. However far we progress, in however long… we will – absolutely – be a better company for our suppliers, our team, our clients, and ultimately… THE WORLD.

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