To B or Not to B?

Considering the abundance of challenges that we are set to face in the coming years as a result of climate change, it is unsurprising that businesses and consumers are changing their ways to become less of the problem and more of the solution. Opposing the generally now outdated view that businesses put profits above their intention to do good, business models that endeavour to put environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility at their forefront are becoming more greatly recognised and more frequently employed.

Rather than profit or people or the planet, there has at long last been a shift to incorporate all three to what is now profit, and people, and the planet. B Corporations (B Corps) are the businesses that are leading the way in this change.

Since setting foot in the UK in 2015 the B Corp scheme has gained some serious recognition, with 272 companies currently B Certified and many more awaiting accreditation. B Corps are businesses that meet the highest economic, social, and environmental standards and therefore are those striving to be the best ethically. These businesses do not just provide top quality products and services, but they ensure that good, clean, and evolving practices are occurring at all times.

B Corps Believe That:

  • Businesses are agents of change
  • People and places matter as much as profit
  • We are responsible for the livelihoods of future generations
  • Why plan on making changes when we can make them now

The food and drink industry are proving to be significant adopters of this movement; with 36 businesses in the UK currently B Certified, and many more awaiting approval. But why is it that the food and drink industry are so keen to become accredited?

For-profit organisations such as those in the food and drink industry have a huge amount of power and are capable of making the changes required to become more ethically adept and subsequently work towards a number of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For instance, a number of these critical and widespread issues surround the notions of sustainable product sourcing, manufacturing, and packaging, as well as the ethical and responsibility issues that food companies face through the entire value chain. B Corps evaluate and ensure that sustainable practice is occurring across all stakeholders and shareholders, and continually reassesses the company to guarantee the best practices are occurring and evolving throughout.

There are a number of benefits to food and drink companies that B Corp status would provide, giving the motivation necessary to undergo the rigorous assessment process that it requires. Firstly, becoming a B Corp provides you access to the B Hive, a community of like-minded businesses who are all striving to be better. The proprietary community provides a platform for networking across all geographies which can help to build relationships and support networks to make necessary environmental and social change, whilst also providing a number of resources to become more ethical.

Secondly, the price of B Corp certification is accessible; companies with annual sales of less than £150000 are only required to pay a certification fee of £500, and those earning anywhere up to £2 million pay only £1000 a year making it a worthy investment. Finally, B Corp certification has racked up community support, with Waitrose, one of the UKs largest retailers, dedicating an online isle for B Corp certified products. With retail marketing being tougher than ever, and consumers becoming increasingly interested in ethical and environmental products, a B Corp certification may provide the platform to success that a number of brands are longing for. This has been shown by the triumph of a number of B Corp certified companies, for example, Pukka Herbs, Ellas Kitchen, and Propercorn, which are all highlighted within this isle.

B Corp certification proves more than just a sustainability stamp – it’s an ongoing process ensuring that the change we want to see in the world is occurring, but it is not easy to achieve. To become certified, the business must achieve a minimum score of 80/200 on an assessment comprised of the five following areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers, and all answers must be backed up with proof. The assessment also requires reform of current policies and procedures as well as legal documents to ensure that you are actually doing good and not just saying that you are.

The question therefore is: to B or not to B? If you endeavour to make the change you wish to see, you want to expand your network of like-minded pro-environmental and pro-social individuals, and you have the time to reform the structure of your workplace, the answer is simple. B the change. Contact us if you wish to talk about the impact a B Corp accreditation can have on your product.

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