Being a Better Ancestor - why B Corporation beliefs matter to us all
In setting out my “Vivid Vision” for Benfield Timber Buildings at the beginning of the year, I stated that I would strive for us to become a carbon neutral company within 3 years. This was a “gulp” moment – a public statement that would require a highly engaged and pro-active team to implement the vision. But if we are to take climate change seriously, it’s essential. Like the moonshot in the 1960s, having a clear goal tends to bring not only success, but other, unexpected benefits whilst creating the foundations of an ethically sound business, whose impact will ripple outwards and onwards in time.
What do Ben & Jerry's, the Big Issue and Brew Dog have in common?
They are just 3 of a rapidly growing number of companies globally who have signed up to the B Corporation “Declaration of Interdependence” and become certified members. With over 3700 companies in 74 countries (including 9 here in Wales), these businesses are driven by people who chose to make them a force for good, balancing profit and purpose with social and environmental performance en route to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Joining that number and becoming a B Corp ourselves is a key part of our own journey.
5 areas of impact
This sounds all well & good, but what does it actually entail? B Corps commit to transparency by publishing their environmental and social performance in 5 key areas:
This is no idle gossip or PR stunt.
It’s a genuine shift in company culture that affects every fibre of its being. It goes beyond the environmental management requirements of BSI ISO 14001 - extending as they do to the entire supply chain, considering products and services from a life cycle perspective.
B Corps commit to using profit and growth to benefit employees, communities and the wider environment.
B is for Beneficial
If contributing towards the world becoming a better place and making a positive impact on those around us now and for our descendants isn’t enough, research on UK SMEs shows that average annual turnover growth for B Corps was 24% in the period 2017-2019 compared with just 3% for all SMEs. Higher levels of innovation and robust governance have also led to increased diversity in the workforce and greater levels of employee satisfaction. What’s not to like?
The Benfield Journey
We’re just starting on our journey, and as goes the punchline of one joke, this wouldn’t be where I’d choose to start from, if I’m honest, but I’m proud to say we’ve already switched to a green energy tariffs and have implemented a zero carbon pension scheme.
We’re checking our supply chain, sustainability and carbon content of our products. We’re part of a consortium to deliver the Welsh Government’s zero carbon social housing project. Our team is gaining a better overview of the business and interdependency of individual contributions.
I’m excited to be embarking on this ambitious process and look forward to sharing our progress. If all of this intrigues and inspires you too, we’d encourage you to get involved & let’s travel forward along this path together.