Blog, Culture

Moving forwards with the local B Corp UK community 

25.03.2024

B Corp™ month is all about ‘Moving Forwards’. This is a perfect theme for an initiative that we believe can never truly be completed.  

When we started our B Corp™ Certification journey knowing that we’d never be finished with it. Our aim was to push ourselves to continually improve and keep finding ways to be better for our customers, our team, and the planet and people around us. We’ve had our certification for almost a year now, but we’re still thinking of new ways to give back including, working with new charities, volunteering, exploring sustainable suppliers, and more. 

But we definitely don’t have all the answers! 

This month has encouraged us to connect with other businesses in the B Corp community to get inspiration, ideas and support. It’s really reminded us that we shouldn’t try and do this alone and that by collaborating with local B Corp companies we can expand our positive impact.  

There are at least 1500 businesses in the UK that have achieved B Corp certification – just imagine what we could achieve if we worked as a collective. 

So, in the spirit of ‘moving forwards’ together, we’ve reached out to some companies from our local Bristol & Bath B Corp™ community to get their perspective. 

Inspiring words from Bristol and Bath B Corp businesses  

A huge thanks to the companies that took part in our Q&A – there’s some great advice, honest admissions and words of inspiration! 

Companies included: 

What inspired your company to pursue B Corp certification? 

“Purplefish has always endeavoured to offer an alternative workspace and culture which does not adhere to the stereotypical agency model, focused on breaking down barriers to entry and working closely with key community initiatives. Becoming B Corp certified felt like a natural progression of that business ethos.” – Lucy McKerron, Purplefish 

“Intentional impact has always been a part of Interaction’s DNA but we wanted to publicly commit to a rigorous, transparent and verifiable assessment of our impact on people and planet. Our staff let us know they felt strongly it was an important step to take, and our clients wanted to know they were dealing with a business which was authentically sustainable.” – Adam Green, Interaction 

“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 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.” – Jessica Vallentine, Business West 

“Since first registering our company in 2020, design as a force for good has been central to our ethos. Day to day we see how design can empower purpose-led businesses and charities, and while we’ve always tried to make a positive impact with our work, our B Corp certification has enabled us to validate our policies, processes and impact based on the stringent criteria set by B Lab.” – Miya Heap, The Discourse  

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

“Firstly, the volume of it, it’s a wide-reaching assessment. And secondly, that policies are real and evidenced rather than just principles that we adhere to.” – Olly Willans, Torchbox 

“It is a big commitment and making the decision to do this during lockdown, we were hampered by delays as B Corp were inundated with people with the same idea. The other big challenge was collating our evidence. We had lots to be proud of but had never collated it in one place. Becoming B Corp and following that framework has provided us with the structure and discipline to record our activities and contributions more accurately.” – Lucy McKerron, Purplefish 

“Probably the same challenges 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.” – Jessica Vallentine, Business West 

“We submitted our impact with a stellar initial score, only to watch it dip during the verification stage due to technicalities around our impact business model – a bit of a buzzkill, to be honest. It was an aspect we had been warned about but not really considered, and although we were frustrated by elements of the outcome, it’s given us confidence that the process is becoming much more rigorous. If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t let it demotivate you. Expect some fluctuations during the verification stage as it’s all part of the process.” – Miya Heap, The Discourse 

How has being a B Corp impacted your business? 

“It hasn’t changed our character fundamentally, but it’s made us more organised and disciplined. Things are now set in stone, rather than being dependent on individuals and it has helped us to develop a programme of continuous improvement.” – Olly Willans, Torchbox 

Like most B Corps going through the certification process, we had to make changes to our Articles of Association and impact improvements across our business, including: 

  • improving our Maternity Policy  
  • introducing commitment days – 2 additional days paid leave for each employee to volunteer for a local charity/good cause  
  • switching to a green energy tariff 

We also introduced The Ministry of Action (MoA) in 2023, a cornerstone initiative that brings together representation from different departments[…]. On our projects, we now use local and sustainable suppliers wherever possible, and aim to reduce waste from our sites. We are now 99% diverted from landfill on our projects over the last 12 months.” – Adam Green, Interaction 

“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.” – Jessica Vallentine, Business West 

For a young(ish) business, it’s provided a benchmark to which we can hold ourselves accountable and ensure that our business truly is a force for good, both internally and externally. It also signals to anyone that doesn’t already know us, who we are and what we stand for.” – Miya Heap, The Discourse 

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

“Make sure you have senior management buy-in, including someone who can push through policy implementation. Getting support from someone experienced, especially being part of a cohort going through certification, sounds like a great idea.” – Olly Willans, Torchbox 

“Go for it. It may be a little painful getting started but the framework, discipline and network that come as part of the community are well worth it. Ultimately, we all want to work with like-minded people right?” – Lucy McKerron, Purplefish 

“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.” – Jessica Vallentine, Business West 

What is one achievement that you’re most proud of? 

“I’m most pleased to have a cross-organisational team with a backlog of tasks and quarterly objectives that help us grow as a responsible business.” – Olly Willans, Torchbox 

“Working as comms advisers to the OurCity2030 launch, collaborating with Babbasa and the One City Mayor’s office in Bristol, to support 2030 young people from underrepresented backgrounds into rewarding careers by 2030 was a pretty proud moment.” – Lucy McKerron, Purplefish 

“The culmination of Interaction’s two-year process to become a B Corp was marked by our move to The Quarter [a restored historic building], our new headquarters in Bath towards the end of 2023. […] The Quarter embodies our vision of a workspace that not only serves functional needs but also nurtures the wellbeing of our team. It’s a space that reflects our values, fosters our culture, and supports our continuous growth.” – Adam Green, Interaction 

“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 of all of the great stuff that is already going on and the things we’ve already achieved.” – Jessica Vallentine, Business West 

“As a small business, without a dedicated sustainability lead or ESG department, it has been the perfect tool and process to help us level up. It has enabled us to understand what we are doing right, in addition to what we need to improve and how projects, such as the design for good grant, can be developed further to create the change in the world that we want to see.” – Miya Heap, The Discourse 

Head over to our B Corp page to learn more about our practices at EV