Three things we learned after becoming a B Corp in 2017: a tactical approach to optimizing the B Corp Value

Author
Jane McKay
Founder Owner | Astute Ideas
19th February 2022
Member roleChamber member

The Zen of Slow Cooking: a spice manufacturing business with a purpose...

B Corp is buzzing right now so it’s no wonder there’s a backlog for certification. The growth in businesses sharing a commitment to doing business better is good news, as more consumers than ever are purchasing with their conscience.  Today, there are about 4,000 Certified B Corporations around the globe - each committed to the principle that “for profit” businesses can be a force for good in the world. 

In 2017, my business partner Meg and I achieved our goal to become a Certified B Corporation. It’s a rigorous process, but well worth the time and energy. As founders of a small enterprise, we couldn't overlook the importance of being the champions behind B Corp motivation within our business to bring us to the next level.

B Corp offers a free assessment tool on their website. There’s a notable article written recently by James Cortis citing expert Business West members Will Powell and Oscar Gue of Future Shift and Andy Hawkins of Business on Purpose sharing 10 steps to consider when aiming for B Corp Certification. I recommend that today’s leaders go through the assessment as it will help them understand how they can offer a level of inspired leadership. 

3 things we learned after becoming a B Corp is a selection of tactical responses we employed post-certification to activate the benefits. These are based on our experience as a food manufacturer operating within an Impact Business Model framework.

1 - Awareness + Community

We became distinctly aware of other B Corps & our community grew bigger and better! 

From the online B Hive community where we can connect with other B Corps, to actively seeking out the B Corp logo on products in the supermarket and the services we purchased, we realized post-certification that it was incumbent upon us to spread the B Corp love beyond our bubble. 

Access to using the B Corp Logo provided us with a Gold Standard mark and a USP. However, it requires careful thought to use it effectively. Each time we shared the B Corp message we were educating stakeholders with the purpose of growing and strengthening our community. 

Multi-Disciplinary Tactics for creating awareness and growing community:

Quick wins
  • Shared the news with friends, workers , customers, suppliers, and prospects via social media and made announcements in blogs, press releases, and newsletters.

  • Updated the website with the logo and added it to email signatures

  • Used a B Corp sign and evangelized at trade shows and demo events to invite questions. The branded wooden signs in the Alpkit stores are a great example. 

  • Identified peer-to-peer influencers within our customer base and garnered their support to amplify our message.

 Medium - Long term
  • Engaged in the annual B Corp month 

  • Updated all marketing materials and packaging with the addition of the B Corp logo. 

  • Educated supplier Account Managers and reviewed existing ingredients and packaging materials.

  • Created new partnerships with B Corps including monthly giveaways and B Corp Gift Boxes with £ donations of sales to local not for profits.

  • Created a dynamic visual “impact-ometer” on our website, for accountability and transparency

  • Organized specific B Corp focused events.

  • Re-aligned our two warehouses in a strategic move to ensure their highest and best use in different channels

2 - Culture 

Embodying B Corp standards crystalized a healthy business culture.

As an Impact Business, B Corp values are baked into our mission but it didn’t fully prepare us for the new lens we had committed to doing business through. 

Internally we viewed our team as a collective force for good, supportive of individual strengths and growth, all able to participate in the shared values of a purpose driven organization. We stepped up to promote B Corp certification within our internal culture, while looking at consumer insights to meet societal expectations and build trust externally.

Tactics for integrating B Corp Certification 

  • Incorporated a regular interactive B Corp segment into our monthly team meetings agenda as a benchmark and to measure our achievements. 

  • Operationalized our digital marketing strategy to create a clear pathway to capture consumer insights include our impact business model in communications

  • Reviewed supplier relationships to make improvements on ingredient listing transparency.

  • Started a JEDI plan (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) to create a new best practice for governance.

3 - Growth

Fast-tracked into new accounts.

 We found new doors to open the moment we certified which improved our sales pipeline. 

Tactics for growth: 

  • Reviewed all of our existing retail and distribution partners contracts, and updated our company certification attributes

  • Looked for new distribution channels with a priority for certified business

  • Publicly declared our B Corp values when recruiting to make purposeful hires

What’s comes next?

Recertification

Certification is the benchmarh. Recertification required us to demonstrate continuous improvements and is what makes B Corp Certifcation stand out as a game changer in standards of CSR. By implementing the tactics outlined above we initiated a plan towards recertification.

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