3 October 2023 – UK businesses are putting sustainability and ethics at the heart of their operations. So far this year, 1,500 British companies have achieved B Corp certification to prove it.
In a world where extreme weather events become more frequent and violent, environmental issues have become a constant feature in the news. More and more people become aware of the impact they have on our planet.
As a result, sustainability has become more important in recent years. And UK businesses have listened to the call for more sustainable practices.
This year so far, 1,500 UK-based companies have been awarded B Corp certification, proving they are serious about having a positive impact on our world.
What Is A B Corp Certification?
This certificate is awarded by B Lab Global UK, a non-profit network that aims at creating a global economy that benefits people, communities and the planet.
Becoming a B Corp business means to achieve a high standard of social and environmental performance. To be awarded the B Corp certificate a company must get a score of 80 or higher in the B Impact Assessment.
This means it has to demonstrate that its business operations consist of sustainable and socially responsible practices which have a positive impact on the environment and society.
At the same time, the company has to agree to change their corporate governance structure by making a legal commitment.
Rather than just being accountable to shareholders, a company has to commit to be accountable to all stakeholders, including customers and employees.
The third requirement to be awarded the highly priced certificate is transparency. Any company wanting to be part of the B Corp community has to allow their results of the performance assessment to be made public on the B Lab website.
By holding every business in their network to account, B Lab aims to create an economy that works for everyone, including the environment.
Should Small Businesses Get a B Corp Certificate?
With more and more UK businesses joining the B Corp community, many small businesses might wonder if it is worth the time and effort that is needed.
Given the huge social and environmental issues that threaten us on a micro and a macro level, I really think businesses have a crucial role to play. Getting our B Corp certification was a public way of showing our staff, our readers and our advertisers how seriously we take our responsibilities towards being an ethical business.Lucy Clealand, Founding Editor of Country & Town House
According to B Corp, companies with a B Corp certification grow their turnover faster than their non-certified competitors (27% compared to 5%).
They also have more staff (14% compared to 1%) as well as are better able to retain their employees. Engagement and diversity, as well as levels of innovation, are all higher in B Corp-certified companies.
Having a certificate awarded by B Corp also helps with securing equity finance. According to B Corp’s data, companies in the B Corp community have a success rate of 70%, compared with non-certified companies whose rate is 56%.
Reserach by Boston Consulting Group conducted last year shows that consumers pay attention when it comes to sustainability of the products they buy.
The consultancy firm surveyed 10,000 UK consumers, with 76% saying they try to be more sustainable and expect businesses to do the same.
57% are influenced by a company’s sustainability practices, with 30% saying they would switch to another brand if the firm isn’t sustainable. 70% want to know what businesses are doing on sustainability but feel they don’t get enough information.
These statistics illustrate that consumers are aware of environmental issues and want to buy from businesses who show what they are doing to solve the problems. And they are not afraid to vote with their feet.
Sustainable and ethical practices are likely to become more important in the future. Already, a majority of customers want businesses to show that they are part of the solution rather than the problem.
Among younger people, this feeling is even stronger, so investing in sustainable and ethical practices now will pay dividends in the short and long-term. Building a base of loyal customers that come back because of its products/services as well as shared values, will help a small business to grow and thrive.
B Corp certification and other certificates can help a small business to demonstrate to customers their values to build these strong relationships. It can also help to set it apart from its competitors, big or small.
The research also shows that staff engagement is better when a company operates using social and sustainable practices. And a happy workforce is a productive workforce.
So we would say that the time and effort that is needed to get certified by B Corp or other similar organisations is worth it for small UK businesses.