With March’s “B Corp Month” coming to a close, we’re sharing the story of how we implemented our “training wheels” on the way to becoming a “better business”.
Words by Victor Bakhuis
As of last August, we're one of the 1,000 certified companies in Europe that have committed to doing better by people, the planet and our workers. This series is intended to share our successes, our failures, and why striving for better business has been a great way forward, in the hopes that others do the same.
Around three years ago, our journey into becoming a “better” company started with us writing down these words:
We want to become a financially healthy and profitable company with happy workers and a diverse team. A place where people can grow professionally, and where part of the profit is shared. We want to become a company which has satisfied, returning clients, with impactful marketing and sustainability services. We want to become a company which looks after its community, and where people from all walks of life are respected, represented, supported and rewarded. We want to become a company that doesn’t only care about the planet, but even has a positive impact it, driven by a strong sense of stewardship
After writing down these words we quickly realised that we had absolutely no clue where to start, or how to reach all of the aforementioned goals. Something that might give us a clue, we realised, was to look into becoming a B Corp.
But what even is a B Corp? Put simply, a B Corp is a company that has committed to high standards for how to look after your team, your community, your clients, and the planet. Aspiring B Corps get verified by a team of experts after a serious grilling on their policies, commitments and actions. Finally, the “mission lock” cements these commitments in your articles of association. That’s the technical, legal part, but the most important is the cultural commitment to “doing better”, in any way that affects your people, and the planet.
B Corp offered us a framework, or training wheels, if you like. One which helps companies achieve their higher vision, and to rewire their business. It also helped us not to fall at the first hurdle, and helped us keep our balance. We were riding with a new set of metrics, which helped to analyse our impact across the five B Corp defined pillars; governance, workers, customers, community and environment.
It’s very easy to get lost in the jargon around B Corp, but for us it was useful to think of these frameworks, processes and tools as our “training wheels”. These are what would help us on the way to becoming a "better" company.
B Corp gave us direction on how to measure the impact we were making at the time we started. It helped us to set targets for the future, it helped us to define success, and how to measure our progress.
Across the years the concept of what success means for our business has changed, in part because of the process. We have learned not to solely look at profit margins to define the health of our business. Instead we also look at how we are doing in terms of team wellbeing, their sense of belonging and professional development. We look at the quality of delivered work, our supplier and team diversity, and our environmental impact.
Rather than distracting or veering us off course, as some critics might say it could, this different way of thinking has been a game changer for our business. We now have so much more information available to help us make our daily decisions, and ultimately help us in the right direction. We’re getting closer towards becoming the kind of company we said we wanted to become, those three years ago.
And how have we been doing so far, you might ask?
In August 2022 we officially became a certified B Corp. We can confidently say we have achieved a lot in the last couple of years. We are financially healthy. Our team wellbeing and personal growth scores are at an all time high. Our team and our community have diversified. We have an average NPS score of 9.5, which results in happy and returning clients. We have begun measuring a sense of belonging in our team through an internally developed methodology, with positive, encouraging first results. Furthermore we can call ourselves carbon negative.
Now that we are indeed certified, it’s tempting to think of these guides or “training wheels” as something that we no longer need. In reality becoming a B Corp is committing to a continual process of learning and improving.
If you want to learn more, or if you’re thinking of getting some “becoming better training wheels” for your agency or company, please get in touch, we are happy to help and keen to share our learnings.