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10 Top Tips for Small Businesses Going For B Corp

In this time of great climate anxiety, B Corp can help you jump ahead of the curve and do your bit to save the planet. B Corp is an accreditation that highlights your business’ social and environmental accountability. They analyse the DNA of your business, focusing on aspects including your business’ environmental impact, your business model, finance records, employee rights and quality of life, engagement with local community, supply chain, diversity and inclusion, and pledges and policies for further change.

It’s like Fair Trade, organic, or LEED certification but for the whole company, not just a bag of coffee or a pint of milk. It can provide businesses with a unique and important selling point. Furthermore, gaining the B Corp accreditation shows leadership, generates press, attracts investors, engages talent and saves money.

It all starts with an assessment. When you first begin your B Corp journey, you are provided with questions split over 5 main categories: Workers, Customers, Community, Governance, and Environment. These tips will help you get in a position to pass with flying colours.

1. Be Prepared

B Corp is all about good environmental practice, community engagement and social responsibilities, so take note of things you already have in place, such as utility trackers, consistent charitable contributions, employee satisfaction surveys, etc.

2.  Answer all the questions you can first

Read over the questions. The initial assessment can seem like an intense challenge, however, you may be able to answer some of the questions off the top of your head, such as how many employees you have or whether or not you have a policy regarding maternity leave.

3. Divide and conquer

You will need information on all aspects of your business practice so think about who knows what, let everyone know that you are embarking on this new project and get as many people on board as possible.

4. Know as much as you can about your supply chain

B Corp requires you to know what percentage of your purchases are from local or minority owned businesses. Do you know if everyone in your supply chain is paid at least minimum wage and has good working conditions?

5. Data capturing

It’s important to set up – if you haven’t already – data capture methods for your utility usage, employee attrition, recycling and local spending. You will need to be able to compare usage, data and rates from before you started your B Corp journey to how you have made positive change along the way. This will also aid you in creating sensible yet aspirational targets.

6. Record changes

Every time you implement something new – for example a policy or product change – make a note of it. Have a progress diary or timeline or something similar which will track the changes you’ve made to be more environmentally and socially accountable during your B Corp journey. Not only will this show you all the hard work you and your team have put in, but it will also help when you reapply for your B Corp application in a few years’ time.

7. Be Creative

It may not be easy to implement the kind of changes you think B Corp wants from you, however we have found some creative ways to make important changes throughout the team and business:

  • Implement an Amazon shopping ban
  • Create partnership and supply chain agreements which align with your mission statement and workplace policies
  • Switch branded products to ones which are already B Corp certified or sustainable and ethical brands – such as switching from Nescafe coffee to Clipper. Not only does this mean you are implementing an ethical focus on your purchasing but also highlighting good and responsible brands and businesses for your customers and employees which they can implement in their own lives.

8. Set goals and attainable targets

From the first question you answer in which you do not receive full marks, you can start to set your business targets regarding your utility usage, employee satisfaction levels or your recycling. Targets can be made on your B Corp assessment page. Keep a record of any targets set and met – or changed. Targets should be reviewed at least biannually. They should be both short-term and long-term.

9. Useful resources

Unfortunately no easy-fill resources for all of this exist! However other companies out there have some excellent resources which will help you structure policy and implement changes.

10.  Keep monitoring, keep setting targets, keep improving, keep going! It’s all worth it when you become a part of the ever-growing B Corp community.

 

To mark B Corp month, Sustainability and Accessibility Consultant, Emma Rix, is hosting a free, fortnightly drop-in clinic to help small businesses on the path to B Corp. For more details, click here.

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