Going Beyond the B
Since it started in 2017, the B Corp movement, short for ‘Benefit Corporations’, has certified more than 6,000 companies across 89 countries. B Corps are leading the way to build a stronger future for the next generation, with organisations taking more accountability for their actions and choices — “serving a global community of people using businesses as a force for good”.
At Work.Life, the B Corp certification has enabled us to use this framework as our first step to embed sustainability in our business model, to go beyond business as usual and pursue a more impactful way to deliver our mission to create happier workspaces.
During this B Corp month, and as we prepare to publish our first Impact Report, we reflect on our B Corp journey – what we’ve learned with each one of the challenges we found along the way, sharing those with others, and celebrating the successes of the last year.
Becoming a B Corp
Our business is driven by our passion for employee wellbeing and happiness. As part of a brand exercise back in 2019, we decided to put forward the case to pursue B Corp at Work.Life.
“For a business of our size and a brand with our mission, B Corp felt like the right thing to do.”
Sarah, Head of Marketing and Sustainability Committee member
We conducted our B Impact Assessment, the first step to obtain the certification, during a time where we were focused on rebuilding our business after the Covid pandemic
Some businesses work with external parties to obtain the certification which was not the case with us. The fact that B Corp is so aligned with our company values, made it possible for us to recruit an incredible group of volunteers within our team, representing the different departments to deliver the work – such as representatives of our people, leadership, facilities, and community teams.
“Working in this project at a time of so much uncertainty, was also a highlight and a motivation drive for our team.”
Elliot, Director and Sustainability Committee member
Rebuilding our business whilst working on our B Corp certification, was a source of motivation for our team helping us understand what areas we were already very strong, such as Workers, Governance and Community and review processes in areas that we were less strong, such as our environmental performance.
It took us about two years, from starting the process, to submitting our B Impact Assessment and to obtaining the certification in January 2022.
The duration of this process (despite feeling very long at times!) was key for us to implement new policies and processes but also embed new ways of working as a multi departmental team and prepare for the work that was waiting for us after the certification.
Embedding sustainability in our business model through B Corp
One of the biggest challenges for businesses in order to improve their sustainability performance is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to frameworks that businesses can follow.
In our case, due to our alignment with B Corp values, we felt that this was a solid starting point to start our sustainability journey. B Corp requires businesses to continue to improve their social and environmental performance in order to be recertified every 3 years, supporting the development of a longer term strategy.
Embrace B Corp as a framework meant we could use that as a guideline to build our first sustainability roadmap, and use B Corp self-reassessment score as our first sustainability performance indicator which we are tracking quarterly. Our Sustainability Lead and Sustainability Committee, forming the governance body for our sustainability work, used the framework and this metric as a foundation to define and start executing our sustainability strategy and roadmap.
To expand the impact of our sustainability work, it became clear that we needed to create an additional network of Sustainability Champions, to bounce ideas and to support on numerous projects. Employing our Sustainability champions (from different levels of the company) proved so successful that we plan to extend this approach in other areas to maximise impact (e.g. Community Champions).
“As a Sustainability Champion I get to support our strategy by engaging our members in this topic via different tools such as our sustainability Slack channel“
Jon Watson, Membership Assistant and Sustainability Champion
All of our sustainability work is delivered by passionate team members that embed the work within their day-to-day jobs. We believe this is the best way to ensure sustainability is embedded in every part of the business.
“We are a lean team and to help prioritise our sustainability projects, we ensure that every quarter there is a company goal associated with our sustainability roadmap.”
Sophie, Commercial Director and Governance Impact Area Lead
In the past year, we also understood that, to continue to be successful in delivering our roadmap, we must continue to engage everyone in the company.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have so much passion within the Work.life team to drive our ambitions forward. People come to us even during our hiring process with ideas on how they’d love to make an impact! This collective energy is helping us to work on things like developing further training resources and including social & environmental performance in our job descriptions.”
Laura Ash, Head of People and Workers Impact Area Lead
We believe that no matter what everyone’s role is, every individual in our team can make a difference to drive our sustainability agenda and we want to continue to empower them to do so.
Our biggest challenge: Improving our environmental performance
Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and businesses play a fundamental role to drive change in this area looking at reducing their emissions and support our path to Net Zero.
In most of the buildings we currently operate, we lease only a part of the building, making it very difficult for us to collate water, energy and waste data from different landlords. The arduous process to collate the data in the past year, has also taught us that the acquisition phase of our buildings is critical in this process. And therefore, instead of only looking at the operational stage we started reviewing our acquisition criteria for future buildings, as well as working with our suppliers to reduce the environmental impact of our delivery processes.
“When we started our B Corp journey, we had no data available, despite being one of our biggest challenges it has also become one of our biggest achievements in the past year.”
Megan Beard, Facilities Manager and Environment Impact Area Lead
After collating most of the data for the last year, we are now able to understand the environmental impact of our operations, and we aim to define improvement targets and strategies to deliver these.
In the past year, the B Corp certification has empowered us to improve areas in the businesses where we were already performing well and, at the same time, allowed us to start tackling complex areas of our business.
“Using the B Corp framework is helping us to take a step-by-step approach to further develop our sustainability strategy. This process is encouraging us to develop ambitious projects that go beyond, whilst being by other businesses in the community, as well as learning and exploring other frameworks to further expand and deliver our sustainability ambitions.”
Ana Bernardo, Area Manager and Sustainability Lead
Celebrating B Corp month
Our members have played a fundamental role in the success of our sustainability work by taking part of our fundraising events, such Pride Month, and behaviour change programmes, such as our recycling drive that increased our recycling rate across selected spaces to 75%.
“We can’t wait to celebrate B Corp month with our members and beyond”
Viraj, Area Manager and Community Lead
During this month, we will be celebrating B Corp month with our members and team by organising a B Corp Bingo, empowering participants to consider more sustainable habits and win prizes from some of our favourite B Corps.
To understand what it means and what does it take to go beyond, we are also hosting a public panel discussion, with veteran and recently certified B Corporations to shed light into the successes and challenges they encountered on their journey to become more than just a better business. You can find out more about this event and sign up to attend here.