Becoming B Corp certified is just one of the ways a business can commit to an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. Verified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability, B Corp is more than a box-ticking side project; it’s a continuous and fundamental change in mindset.
Just how many times can you look at a balance sheet and be excited by it? I mean, I guess if you're an auditor or an accountant, then I'm sure that thrill never ends, but how many times can you really sit in company meetings and say how well it's going or how badly it's going, or how… the same, it's going?
Maybe it’s just me but this simple thought can lead you to think about other ways of justifying your business existence. Like lots of other creative businesses, Jelly and Three Blind Mice have been involving themselves in various ‘non-business’ activities now for many years, from our involvement in the Bite The Ballot campaign, through our contributions to many charitable causes, to our own diversity, equity, and inclusion outreach, but we have never crystallised these various diversions into a whole, until now.
Disclaimer: I'm not particularly motivated by money. Money is nice. Don't get me wrong, but it's just a means to an end. You'll never have enough. You’ll just spend it on more stuff. And if you don't have enough money – and I haven't had it lots of times – then your unhappiness is probably guaranteed.
I need to qualify this. I'm thoroughly aware that I'm in a ridiculously privileged position. I run a creative business. I don't even have a proper job for Christ's sake, I have a leadership role for which I am relatively well paid, I mean, as Randy Newman would say, ‘my life is great!’. So why make things difficult? And make no mistake, becoming a B Corp can be difficult. It's time consuming and incredibly admin heavy and onerous on your management team’s time. It’s because judging your progress as a business by spreadsheets, profit and loss, and all the other traditional methods seems kind of old hat now, doesn't it?
The world is changing. No, sorry. Let me rephrase that. The world is dying. So, to carry on running a business ‘normally’ and ignoring that seems a bit, well, reckless now, doesn't it? On top of that, the industry that we all work in is in a dramatic state of flux; historic business structures and chains of command are changing, and we urgently need to change the demographic of the people within it - the people that are gaining entry to it. B Corp accreditation can help with all of this, alongside numerous other internal structural issues that are too easy to ignore if you've just got your eye on the balance sheet.
So, let's just pause for a second and look at the things that B Corp accreditation makes you do to become one:
- prove your commitment to environmental performance
- develop a social outreach programme
- change your governance to a more accountable structure to exhibit transparency
- make all of these policies publicly acceptable
- once done, B Corps need to be audited regularly to prove your ongoing commitment
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. So I can imagine that there are lots of owners and MDs who take one look at this list and beat a hasty retreat. But think of the benefits you are making: a viable change to your life, the life of the people that work for you AND the lives of the people that you make a social commitment to.
Most importantly, you can’t get bored and walk away. It’s a constant and consistent commitment once you’re accredited. You can’t cherry pick causes and hot topics as and when you feel like it. You have to be dedicated to this ‘other’ business all the time, forever.
And well, maybe just maybe, you're doing a tiny, teeny bit to save the planet, or at least slow down its inevitable destruction? For which you or your kids may be grateful someday.
So, after all that, why aren't we a B Corp yet? We made the decision late in 2019 to become one. As we became more enervated by our ongoing social and environmental commitments, two things happened.
First, there was a global pandemic. You may have noticed it. We, like everyone else, had to put most of our development targets on ice and go into survival mode for 18 long months. We were bailing out the business and just concentrating on coming out of that in the best, healthiest way that was possible.
The second reason was just work. When you are a relatively small business, it is hard to have part of your workforce, completely dedicated to B Corp. So, you must share the load. And when it gets busy, B Corp has tended to be the thing that gets pushed to one side, whilst we pitch, treat, estimate, produce and deliver. I don't think we are alone in this. Several of my peers on the same path have expressed the same frustrations. Not at B Corp, but at their lack of progress. The accreditation is a point scoring exercise, and one must constantly revisit it to push your point score up.
And each point increment raised means a written commitment or policy being put into place. As I said, it can be arduous, but we are so close, literally at the finish line once our governance changes are set in stone. And as a friend of mine told me recently, “honestly, pushing us through B Corp is the proudest moment of my career so far.”
I couldn't agree more. Hopefully all our new partners and employees will agree with me, and next time I’m looking at a P&L spreadsheet I will know that there really is more to life than this – and that we are committed to it.