B4 seems to be attracting more responsible and purposeful companies and at the same time more existing members are shifting to embed positive social and environmental impact into their organisations. So, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many B4 members were very keen to attend this invitation-only event. Richard Rosser, who was also there said “It’s great to see so many B4 members looking at how they can improve their businesses in these ways. It’s an area of huge importance to B4 and it will only continue to grow.”
Situated on the northern edge of the Oxford ring road, The Myers-Briggs Company, one of the world’s largest business psychology providers, has recently gone through a rebrand to integrate their wholly-owned subsidiaries into one global company. To coincide with this, Sian Bishop, Lead Counsel, Europe, at the company said that becoming a B Corp was also an important step in their evolution as a company. She explained “As part of our certification process and subsequent global rebrand, we were able to refocus our values in the context of being a purpose-driven business”.
What is a B Corp?
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Companies that are certified B Corps include Abel & Cole, Divine Chocolate, Kickstarter, Oxfordshire based Ella’s Kitchen, Actimel, Triodos Bank, Ben and Jerry’s, as well as the highest scoring B Corp in the UK, ClimateCare, based in Oxford.
The view is that society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and charities alone. As well as improving performance, credibility and becoming more attractive to potential and existing employees, customers and investors, companies in the B Corp community work toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
What will be your legacy?
So, how do you measure your success in business? Is your company striving to be the best in your sector, your region or even in the world? The latest B Corp promotional campaign features an emotive video of a CEO posing for a corporate portrait, reflecting on what his legacy will be. A question for all of us perhaps; what will be your legacy? How about being the best for the world?
Penny Rinta-Suksi, Partner at Blake Morgan who was also at the event said she has raised the B Corp movement as something to consider in the firm’s own strategy, given that they want to be a profitable commercial business making a difference in our communities. Speaking about the event she said “I really enjoyed the event and liked the idea of being a ‘for profit’ organisation but also defining our purpose so that we are a force for good…. I hope that our business can move to this model in the near future and encourage other businesses to look into this too.”
Being a B Corp might not be right for everyone, but the basic principles make for a sound business model and a free online assessment is available to analyse and improve your business. As a trained “B Leader”, I work with this tool whilst supporting businesses to help transform the way they operate and also encourage others to take advantage of it. You can access it at https://bimpactassessment.net. Other models are also emerging, including Blueprint For Better Business and also the locally based “Better Business” featured in previous articles on this topic, championed by Seacourt Print, a global leader in their sector and the way in which they operate.
Why should businesses embed purpose?
Increasingly, evidence suggests that becoming a more purposeful business leads to better performance and greater success. At the event, Will Cleare, Head of HR, Europe, at The Myers-Briggs Company, explained why his company decided to go through the process to certify and the benefits they have already reaped from doing so. He highlighted they ways in which their employees really embraced this change and that it has been a substantive development in their quest to be an impactful business.
After the event, Sian Bishop added “Our vision is to enrich people’s understanding of themselves and others, and by doing so within the framework of the B Corp movement, we aim to inspire our employees and other stakeholders, within our community and further afield, to lead more successful, sustainable and fulfilling lives.”
As Oxfordshire Voice, driven by B4, continues to build momentum, opportunities are surfacing for businesses to take a share in the responsibility for addressing pressing local social and environmental challenges. New and creative opportunities are opening up for companies to work together and with local schools, councils, OxLEP, social enterprise and the voluntary sector to develop powerful and mutually beneficial solutions.
The shift in businesses becoming more purposeful referred to earlier, as well as more interest in the subject is gathering pace and is also reflected in the speaker line up for BIO2019. You can hear more there yourself about the B Corp movement from Charmian Love, along with a number of other speakers, including me, on related topics.
What do B4 members think?
Richard Venables is director at VSL and Chair of Reciprocate, a local responsible business group hosted by Oxfordshire Community Foundation and comprising of a number of B4 members. Having attended the event, he said it was ‘‘…inspiring and good reinforcement of the direction of travel for many Reciprocate members’’. Another Reciprocate and B4 member, Jonna Mundy of You HR also shared her views; “It was invigorating to attend this event! As a business owner, I am passionate about advocating how we can all do so much more, collaboratively, for the greater good of society… after all as our strapline says “it’s all about the people”.
“Being of purpose as much as being for profit is vastly becoming the mantra for those that are evolving the emerging shared economy. It’s predicted by 2020 almost 50% of consumers will be focusing their interests more around providers that are recognised as a force for good. Why wouldn’t you consider Be-Corp?”
Hayley Monks, MD at Think Inspire & Create was inspired herself by hearing Charmian Love speak at the event. Charmian is Co-Founder and Chair of B Lab UK, the organisation driving the growth of the B Corp movement in the UK and also an Entrepreneur In Residence at The Saïd Business School. Hayley said “It was inspiring to hear Charmian talk about B Corps and see the range and size of business that have B Corp status or are working towards it. The case studies shared, demonstrated that is possible to run and grow a business that is both socially responsible and profitable; creating enthusiasm and interest in the room.”
So, what will be your legacy?
If you would like to find out more or connect, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org