I became interested in B Corp in April after it was mentioned several times over a few weeks. At a networking event it was briefly discussed alongside the following question: did the panel agree with the concept of the movement, that purpose should come before profit?
What are B Corps?
Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are companies verified by B Lab that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. The general acceptance is that governments and non-profit organisations cannot solve the most challenging problems alone. B Corps use business to positively impact all stakeholders – workers, communities, customers, and the planet.
The goal is to have a global economy that uses business as a force for good. This new economy will be comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation – which is purpose-driven and creates benefits for all stakeholders, not just shareholders. There are three fundamental beliefs attached to this:
- We must be the change we seek in the world.
- All business should be conducted as if people and place matter.
- Through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
To achieve this, there has to be an understanding that we are dependent upon one another and responsible for each other and future generations.
The UK B Corp community is flourishing with over 700 B Corps in the UK, across 56 industries with over 41,300 employees.
Why does this matter to me?
Purpose & Profit are extremely relevant to the work that I do. My role as a business coach is to support my clients to grow their businesses and their profits.
One of the things I love doing with my coaching clients is to help them define their Purpose. Defining a statement that has a deep and noble sense of purpose – a significant purpose – that inspires excitement and commitment. A purpose statement that is not about shareholder wealth. Being able to answer why would their clients and the world miss them if they no longer existed is always helpful.
Gaining a better understanding of B Corp
To understand more about B Corp, both for my business and for my clients, I have started to complete the B Corp online assessment. I started this by myself, but quickly realised this is a great opportunity to make this an inclusive process with my team, so we are now working through the assessment together.
The assessment really gets you to think deeply about your social and environmental responsibilities through a series of questions. There is also the opportunity to set future goals for 6 impact areas: governance, workers, community, environment, customer and disclosure.
As I work through the assessment, considering these impact areas, I am starting to build a much better understanding of how the choices we make allows us to put purpose more consciously before profit at a very practical and manageable level.
My expectation currently is that in the short term some profit may be sacrificed for purpose, but being recognised as a B Corp business would allow businesses to differentiate more strongly in the workforce and the marketplace.
I’ll continue to share our experience as we complete the assessment process and decide how to proceed further.