We talk to Pierre Wassenaar, Director at Stride Treglown about their B Corp journey.
Stride Treglown is employee-owned and one of the top 10 largest architectural firms in the UK. They specialise in the sectors of education, healthcare, residential, civic, commercial and infrastructure and became a B Corp in February 2021. Freeing up more time during the pandemic allowed them to truly consider why they wanted to become a B Corp and gave them the space to go through the assessment process.
And they’re glad they did, as it’s solidified their purpose as an organisation and given them an understanding of the journey they are now on to continually evolve as a business.
Why did you choose to become a B Corp?
“We chose to become a B Corp because we’re a learning organisation, we liked the structure of B Corp and it gave us a framework to make some business decisions. We also wanted to send out a message to the younger generation coming into a new industry.”
“It was obvious that the whole ESG agenda was going vertical. In terms of social value and sustainability, we felt there were areas where we could help clients by simply being a B Corp as it would add that cache to their supply chain.”
How did Stride Treglown’s business practices meet the requirements of a B Corp business?
Pierre explains that it’s all public record so you can see the areas where they perform well and less well here.
“We scored pretty well on governance. The area we needed to do more work on was community. It’s to do with how you hold your supply chain to account on some of these environmental, social and corporate governance issues, to be honest we didn’t really have these processes in place; it wasn’t something we really thought about. We felt B Corp was useful to highlight these things we could, and should be thinking about.”
How did you find the process of becoming certified?
“It was really hard work which I hadn’t fully realised. If we were going to do it again, we’d take our foot off the accelerator slightly because I don’t think we took enough time to embed it into our organisation."
"We wanted to get the accreditation as quickly as possible, like wanting to pass an exam. But it isn’t like that, it’s a way of life.”
How has business changed over the last 20 years?
“I studied business 20 years ago and the issues of balancing purpose and profit were simply not discussed. Everything was around competition, differentiation, and comparative advantage and how you could beat your competitors and make money and that was perfectly common then. And in 20 years if you look at what’s happened with corporate social responsibility and how it’s evolved and obviously with the sustainability and climate change agenda, things are thankfully quite different.”
Why would you recommend other companies become a B Corp?
“What I would say to every company is do the online self-assessment – it doesn’t take that long. What you will learn from that is a real eye opener. It will shine a light on the areas in which you are underperforming. Whether you then convert it into becoming a B Corp that’s up to you. But I can’t think of any company that we work with that couldn’t do the initial online assessment in a couple of hours.”
“Become knowledgeable, become aware and situate your company within this new ether that we’re swimming in because if you don’t do that, you’re just removed from the whole conversation that’s going on.”
What been the best thing about becoming a B Corp?
“It’s watching initiatives coming through the company from individuals. A good example is the Climate Action Relay, which we started in August and will finish in November for COP26. It’s literally an 8-week relay through all our offices and each office organises a week of events and initiatives.
It’s things like setting up talks, beach cleaning, litter picking so it’s action as well as words. What blew me away was how a few individuals just took this on themselves to drive forward, it’s be great, a real reflection of our culture.
“It’s that sense of untethered ambition and initiatives that makes me think this is the company I want to be a part of.”
To find out more about how your company could become a B Corp, why not take the B Impact Assessment today?
Stride Treglown are members of the Business West Initiative and Chambers of Commerce. To find out more about how your business can get involved in our business community, looking to make positive change across the region please visit the West of England Initiative.