Business West is one of the largest Chambers of Commerce in the UK and the first to become a certified B Corp. We speak to 4 different Chamber and Initiative member businesses in the South West about their experiences of B Corp and why becoming certified resonated with their business.
What does B Corp actually mean?
B Corp is the only global accreditation that deals with 5 key areas of business: governance, workers, community, customers and the environment all in one go. For example, as a newly certified B Corporation company, Business West is legally required to consider the impacts of all of our decisions against each of these 5 core strands. Balancing purpose and profit are key to the way that a B Corp does business, with a community of leaders using business as a force for good. The B Corp movement encourages companies to take an ethical approach across all areas of their business to make a positive difference in the world. Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West said,
"We’re delighted to join a growing community of businesses globally pursuing purpose as well as profit. We’re extremely proud to be the first Chamber of Commerce to take this positive step."
About our Chamber & Initiative member B Corps
Our diverse Chamber & Initiative community tell us about their individual journeys to become a B Corp with the common goal of balancing purpose and profit to use business as a force for good.
Resource Futures is an employee-owned, independent environmental consultancy with a 30-year heritage in the waste and resources industry. They describe themselves as being committed to using business as a force for good to maximise impact and create value. In other words, they’re trying to do business in a way that not only brings about economic success, but also addresses the most challenging environmental problems and creates value for society.
David Lerpiniere, Director at Resource Futures said, “We decided to become a B Corp as it meant we could add a mission lock to ensure that our objectives and desire to create a sustainable world are always going to be core to our company.”
Resource Futures recommend other companies look into becoming a B Corp.
“Being a B Corp is so much more than a badge of recognition. It is an opportunity to measure your business against the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance and accountability and prove to your employees, clients and stakeholders that you’re serious about being a better business,” said David.
Semantrica was set up as a profit-with-purpose social enterprise. They have built the world’s largest anti-slavery register (TISCreport) and created an afforestation app (ProjectVana). Their founder, Jaya Chakrabarti has recently taken over as the President of the Bristol Chambers of Commerce.
Jaya explained why they decided to become a BCorp: “Semantrica was set up as a do-good-with-data company with a particular focus on corporate transparency. It was a no-brainer to walk the walk we expected of others. If we can't be transparent about our actions as corporate citizens, we cannot
possibly achieve our mission to hold others accountable for their actions."
"Whilst B Corp is not the only way to prove you're profit-with-purpose, it's definitely a journey I'd recommend but accreditation is just the start. What you do AFTER becoming a B Corp in terms of sharing your actions becomes much easier."
“The BCorp network of like-minded businesses is a joy to be a part of, full of energy, vision and determination. Time's a-ticking and there's a planet to save!”
Business on Purpose is a sole trader business who went through the BCorp process on their first tech business, found the process complex and wanted more support. Andy quickly realised that other businesses were struggling with the process too, so he entirely changed his business model to focus on bespoke business courses to teach small businesses how to navigate the complex stages of becoming a B Corp.
Andy Hawkins, Business on Purpose said to me, "B Corp seems to be to business what fair trade is to coffee.”
“I set up Business on Purpose specifically to help businesses going through the B Corp certification process. By Christmas this year, I should have helped 60 businesses become accredited. There’s 4,000 B Corps globally and 500 in the UK. There is huge need and I am hugely passionate about how I can reach a wider audience."
Stride Treglown is one of the top 10 largest architectural firms in the UK 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 application process. And they’re glad they did, as it solidified their purpose as an organisation and has given them an understanding of the journey they are now on to continually evolve as a business.
Pierre Wassenaar, Director at Stride Treglown said they chose to become a BCorp because,
“We are 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 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 certification as quickly as possible, but it isn’t like that, it’s a way of life."
“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."
How can you get involved?
On the B Corp website can look at how individual organisations score against the different categories, for example governance, workers, community, environment and customers. Each organisation performs differently in each area and this helps them to recognise where they need to put their energy going forward. B Corp is not about an end certificate or result, it’s about an ongoing journey to achieve the long-term good of all aspects of the business.
Feeling inspired? You can find out more about Business West’s B Corp journey here.
We hope that using our influence and networks we can encourage more businesses to find out how they too can take up the BCorp challenge. To find out more about how your company could become a B Corp, why not take the B Impact Assessment today? If you’ve started on the B Corp journey, Business West Chambers of Commerce is happy to offer support and guidance based on our experiences of the process. Contact us for more information.
Our Chamber member, Future Shift are small business sustainability specialists. They offer monthly access to a B Corp working platform packed full of resources, templates and calculators for £50/month with the option of great workshops and guidance sessions too! Check out the platform.