Why Business West is committed to being a B Corp: Interview with Jessica Vallentine

Eleanor Ferrari
Marketing Executive
25th March 2024

In a recent interview with fellow B Corp certified organisation Estrella Ventures, a sustainable marketing agency based in Bristol, and our Director of Responsible Business, Jessica Vallentine, we reflected on why becoming a B Corp fit so well with our values as a purpose driven organisation, and how we have and hope to make the most out of being a B Corp in the future. 

As it’s B Corp month, we thought this would be the perfect time to share more about our B Corp story, hopefully encouraging likeminded businesses to reflect on their practices and get involved in this powerful movement for good. 

Firstly, what is a B Corp?  

The B Global Network is made up of businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Their aim is to inspire and enable people to use business as a force for good to create an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy.  

You can find out more about what it means to be a B Corporation and their mission for the network on their website

What inspired Business West to pursue B Corp certification? 

We have always been a purpose driven organisation. Our mission is to help businesses thrive in a sustainable and inclusive region, so everything that B Corp is about is what we've always believed: business can be a force for good. We originally came to B Corp itself via its link to the Sustainable Development Goals. We were looking for a way to publicly acknowledge a commitment to our purpose, our commitment to responsible business, and a way to talk about the impact we try to have in the world. We still think about the work we do in the context of the SDGs, but B Corp was a much better fit for us, and a business-focused movement that we could get behind because of how it aligns with our longstanding vision. 

What were some of the challenges you faced during the accreditation process? 

Probably the same challenges as a lot of others that go through the process, which is also its value - it takes time and effort and a lot of reflection. The questions let us hold a mirror up to examine where we're doing well, and where we could do better. The nature of the questions meant that sometimes we needed to report things in ways that we hadn't before or formalise processes that had always been standard practice but hadn't been written down. Also, as always with doing something new, a lot of time is needed to communicate at all levels - what we're doing, why and what it'll mean to the company.  

How has being a B Corp impacted Business West’s operations and culture? 

I think now that we're three years in and going through recertification, it is really embedded into our definition of ourselves. We've always been purpose driven, but having a clear, public mark of that is invigorating to our colleagues and a great way for us to give them the permission to hold us to account, as well as give them a platform for celebrating our successes. We're also using it as a way to connect our efforts on reporting social value - we're getting better and better at understanding and communicating the impact we have as a business. 

What advice would you give to other companies considering becoming B Corp certified? 

Take your time with it to do it well; use the time to get people involved, to talk about the process, to overcommunicate about it. Use it as a chance to reflect on your practices as a business and identify ways to improve. Take advantage of the networks that exist to help you on your way; I have talked to a number of prospective B Corps and I'm always delighted to talk about our experience with others, to help them on their journey. I'm sure other B Corps are the same - we're at a fabulous party and we want everyone else to join us too. 

What is one achievement or milestone as a B Corp that you're most proud of? 

I'm hoping that one upcoming milestone will be our first recertification - which we're in the process of achieving now (but I don't want to jinx it!). I think going through the impact assessment again, and seeing how our score has improved because of the effort we've put into developing some of our weaker areas has been a highlight. It's so easy to always be looking forward: to what could be better, what needs to improve, what is falling short - that you forget to stop, take stock and recognise all of the great stuff that is already going on and the things we've already achieved. 

If you’d like to find out more about why we decided to become a B Corp and how our goals align with its values, you can read our article here.  

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