The road to B Corp: a new year’s resolution with real impact
A view from Chris Shadrick

The road to B Corp: a new year’s resolution with real impact

Navigating the business end of the B Corp journey is not easy but the certification brings massive benefits.

I’ve only been back a couple of days and it’s amazing just how many opinion pieces have popped up talking about resolutions for this year and how businesses can improve, progress and push on in 2022. 

And that’s all well and good. But if you really want to make an impact on your business, your staff, your culture and, more importantly, our world, then going B Corp is the true resolution you should be making. 

Since I wrote my last piece on becoming a B Corp, it’s amazing the number of people who have contacted me to say they’re already considering it or want to find out more about how their agency can do it. So it feels timely that, as we have finished the process and are now in the final submission phase, and people are thinking about the future, I should share my insights into the second round of the process. 

The real hard work begins 

This segment is where the real brunt of the work happens, so prep your senior and wider team, give yourself the metaphorical slap on the face and clear some time (read evenings and weekends) in your diary. 

Just by entering, you suddenly become legally required to consider the impact of your decisions on your workers, your clients, governance, community and the environment. While that might only be five words written down, once you dive into them, it is a huge amount to consider. 

This also means you’ll need to begin the process to change your legal business articles to demonstrate that you’re focused on people, planet and profit – not just profit, which is what we’re all used to. My recommendation here is to engage with a reliable law firm ideally that you’ve worked with previously so they have the history of your business and incorporation articles.

You’ll then need a rigorous financial and supplier audit to ensure you are working with like-minded partners and investing in sustainable projects. The fewer of these you work with, the lower your score will be. So you can’t cut corners anywhere, which is kind of the point anyway. 

But then you get to do something that really does appeal to us advertising types, you’ll need to create a new mission statement outlining why you’re becoming a B Corp and what it means for the future of the agency. To do this it became apparent to us that we need wider involvement from the team to create a joint vision around how we can use marketing for good and to give back to our people and community. It’s not about creating a lofty mission statement but ensuring it truly represents why you want to become a B Corp.

Once this is done, you then need to back it up by formalising all of your company policies beyond what is a statutory requirement, as well as other benefits that you offer around financial support, private healthcare, wellbeing, career development, training, etc. Then carry out a review of your HR process to ensure you are being inclusive, diverse and to help both new and existing employees understand their social and environmental impact through training and development. 

This also includes introducing social and environmental impact into business decision making, performance training and team reviews as well as having a clear ESG agenda at every board meeting with a board owner. 

Although, from our recent foray into hiring a big group of people, the talent now want to know this in their interviews anyway, and actively ask for your plans on these subjects, so being able to tell them we’re doing all this has already reaped benefits. 

Being honest, it wasn't the easiest of processes to go through, yet it’s designed this way for a reason. But when has changing the planet ever been easy? I'm pretty sure no-one at COP26 last year had an easy time of it. But it was satisfying, fun and, ultimately, we are already seeing the massive benefits it is bringing to our business and our staff. And if my messages after the last piece are anything to go by, it’s helping to change our industry as well. 

Chris Shadrick is the strategy partner of Collective