Q&A with the team behind Business West’s B Corp journey

Fionuala Lloyd
Net Zero Communications Assistant | Business West
6th October 2021

Business West recently became a certified B Corp. Leading on the certification process internally for Business West were Head of Service Integration Jessica Vallentine and Estates Manager Sam Shinner. I caught up with them to hear their reflections.

What is a B Corp?

B Corporations or B Corp for short are businesses that meet a verified standard of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

How did Business West certify as a B Corp?

To achieve the B Corp status, several colleagues from Business West had to come together. The B Corp proposal was originally put forth by Jessica Vallentine. 

“I was looking for a way to talk about our purpose and structure it in a way that portrays the vision we have - ‘best businesses and best place’. But I also wanted the opportunity to talk about what we’re doing internally, and how we’re taking our own actions to make sure positive impact for their employees, communities and the environment.”

Jessica realised that becoming a B Corp was the perfect way to realise Business West’s long-term ambitions of incorporating sustainability into its business strategy. Jessica has been working at Business West for over 14 years and has worked in various areas across the organisation.

“It's not only a great company milestone, but it’s a milestone for me and my time at Business West. It took teamwork for us to get the certification. It isn’t just specific to one department; it’s touches all areas of the business.”

Alongside Jessica, Sam Shinner played a vital role in helping Business West to achieve its B Corp certification. Like Jessica, Sam has been with us for a number of years - 17 to be precise!

“This is something that tells us that what we’re trying to achieve, we’re doing it in the right way. This is something that we’re really proud of. B Corp is a fantastic thing to have, and a great thing to take forward as it constantly tells us how we can do things better.”

B Corp uses their own system of certification to map across to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These goals were created in 2015 to address some of the world’s toughest challenges, particularly related to society and the planet. In order to achieve a B Corp certification, there is a lengthy process businesses must undergo in order to make sure they comply and represent everything that the certification means.

Sam comments: “A lot of the companies with B Corp accreditations are environmentally based - the sole purpose of their organisation is based around sustainability. However, our purpose is not just related to sustainability per se, we are supporting the business community. We don’t necessarily have to be sustainable, but we are. We hope that this will encourage other organisations to challenge their own business strategies, so they think with the environment in mind.”

Back in 2008, Business West set up a green working group which Sam and other members of staff were involved with. This group was made up of various people across the organisation who came together as a collective to improve the sustainability of the business. Since then, Business West has established a Net Zero Team, which is responsible defining and implementing the climate strategy of the organisation.

Jessica adds: “There’s so many people in the business that have their own official roles, but also have an association with the climate strategy for the business. It’s become a core element for many of the business leaders which is really important, it shows how onboard and invested everyone is with this.”

At Business West we strongly identify with the objectives of the B Corp community in putting the planet and people at the same level as profit.

We understand the topic of climate change for your business can be a bit overwhelming. We employ individuals that have experience and knowledge on the things you can do to implement long term, impactful changes. Guidance on how to develop a climate action plan for your business, can be found on our Trading to Net Zero Hub.

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