As a proudly certified B Corp, we're always looking for ways to support the wider B Corp community. One of the ways we can do this is by raising awareness of other organisations that share our mission to do business better.
So this month, we're bringing you our B Corp interview series, consisting of conversations with brands that we truly admire. We spoke to six trailblazing B Corps, asking them each key questions about their B Corp journey.
Each of these organisations has paved its own path and has an inspiring story to tell. A huge thank you to The Progeny Group, Leda, Diversifying Group, Woola, Fluid IT and The Cheeky Panda for taking part.
What inspired you to embark on the B Corp journey?
The Progeny Group: "In the context of a growing focus on sustainability and greenwashing concerns, we saw clients increasingly wanting to understand more about our own activities and ethics. It was important we were able to demonstrate our credentials, especially as a business that, amongst many other things, advises clients on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing.
There are many accreditations and certifications related to adopting a 'greener' or more accountable way of doing business, but none, in our view, were as transparent and all-encompassing as the B Corp certification. As we reviewed our social and environmental performance standards, we decided to do this as credibly and meaningfully as possible – not as a badge to display, but to live and breathe those values every day."
Leda: "We wanted something that would recognise (and help shout about) our commitment to much more than sustainability! We had previously been industry leaders within the ‘Investors in the Environment' accreditation scheme, but we realised that we were doing lots of other great things that weren’t picked up by that."
Diversifying Group: "We have always seen ourselves as a social change organisation above anything else – our services are just the tools to effect that change. By becoming a B Corp, we found an opportunity to formalise this sentiment, demonstrate leadership in our industry and collaborate with like-minded organisations.
We felt immediately aligned with the B Corp values and wanted to be part of the movement. In an increasingly crowded D&I field, we can inspire confidence and authenticity in our clients and candidates by being held accountable by the rigorous B Lab framework."
Woola: "When it comes to sustainability, you can’t be the referee and the player. We needed a set of rules and an external party to audit them to know if we were going in the right direction. More specifically, we started our B Corp journey because we found it to be the most comprehensive and reliable impact certificate currently available for measuring the positive impact of businesses."
Fluid IT: "We were simply lucky to come across the BCorp movement just as it was getting off the ground in the UK. We were told that what we were doing was ‘very BCorp’, but the first time I heard the explanation of a BCorp, I failed to understand it, so I ignored it.
In the end, I’m afraid the honest answer is that it took someone saying, “If you get your arse in gear, you’d be part of the UK’s founding cohort, and there’ll be an invite to the launch party in Camden” which was the motivator required!"
The Cheeky Panda: "The Cheeky Panda is a B Corp because it meets the rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability set by B Lab, the certifying body for B Corporations. The company's commitment to producing sustainable, eco-friendly products made from bamboo, and its focus on giving back to society, exemplify the responsible business practices that B Corp certification signifies."
How do B Corp values align with your brand?
The Progeny Group: "Many of the B Corp values already aligned with our published corporate values and the way we do business. We were already committed to social responsibility, making positive changes in our industry as well as becoming a greener business with strong sustainability goals. Long-term thinking is another one of our core values, in terms of always making the right decisions for the long-term benefit of our clients and building a business strategy to last beyond ourselves via long-term planning."
Leda: "They’re hand in hand, really. As a worker-owned cooperative, our values have been centered around all stakeholders for many years, and transparency and accountability have been hugely important to us. We are building services engineers, architects and sustainability consultants, so our core business is centered around sustainability in the built environment."
Diversifying Group: "Like B Corp, Diversifying Group is driven by a strong sense of people and purpose over profit. Our mission is to transform the world of work for a more accepting future, and we are committed to creating a positive impact by fostering inclusive environments, driving equitable practices, and advocating for underrepresented individuals in everything we do."
Woola: "The main alignment is in how we value sustainability as something holistic, not exclusively focused on a single social or environmental issue or aspect of your business. And more specifically, too, the approach of having high standards for verified performance, accountability, and transparency — these are all part of Woola's brand values."
Fluid IT: "Back in 2012, we tried to formalise our social purpose by adding to our Articles of Association. We had a pretty limited budget, which doesn’t go far with a half-decent lawyer, so we got little more than a basic start. It was exciting to come across the BCorp amendment to the Articles and see clear investment in coming up with an outcome that is an elegant reimagining of what “success” can look like for a business. The outcome is so important to us that we include it in our response to anyone exploring our service offer.
The reason I started Fluid back in 2005 was I was sick of seeing charities being mis-sold IT solutions. Buyers often did not understand what they were purchasing, and suppliers were exploiting that. In our first week of business, we took on an apprentice from a rehab program – one of the charities we provided services to. Thus began a journey of battling for the best; not just for our clients but also for our staff – and helping people flourish on both sides of that business equation. It has been hugely exciting to find and become part of a movement that resonates so clearly with our core values."
The Cheeky Panda: "The Cheeky Panda aligns with B Corp values in several key ways:
Sustainability: The Cheeky Panda's main product line includes bamboo-based hygiene products, which are a sustainable alternative to traditional paper products, aligning with the B Corp's commitment to environmental sustainability.
Transparency and Accountability: B Corps are required to maintain high transparency and corporate accountability, and we embody these values by being open about our supply chains and business practices.
Social Impact: The Cheeky Panda is committed to positively impacting society as our potential support for organisations like The Hygiene Bank. This aligns with the B Corp value of profit-purpose balance and creating a positive community impact."
Has achieving your B Corp certification shaped your overall business strategy in any way?
The Progeny Group: "We had already begun our sustainability journey in many areas, including a commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral business, which includes initiatives such as waste and water reduction, centralised travel booking and local supplier sourcing, as well as working with third parties that specialise in carbon offsetting and carbon credits. However, what we lacked was a centralised framework to monitor all our activities and hold us accountable for meaningful improvement, which is what B Corp Certification offered.
It's primarily shaped our business, therefore, in terms of being able to effectively evidence what we were already doing and to have a clearly defined road for improvement via the recertification process."
Leda: "Not yet! We only achieved certification one month ago, but already we are seeing evidence that B Corp values are influencing day-to-day decisions."
Diversifying Group: "We have only recently secured our B Corp status, but it has already begun informing our business strategy by validating our existing commitment to diversity and inclusion. The certification serves as a reminder that we, like all organisations and individuals, are on a journey of continual improvement. We look forward to collaborating with more fellow B Corps like Yard Digital!"
Woola: "Not really — as sustainability is something at the very core of Woola as a business, our business strategy has not been impacted by the B Corp certification. It impacts how our brand is perceived — we believe it lends credibility to our sustainability practices and plans, which have been in for more than a year now."
Fluid IT: "It would be more accurate to say that our BCorp certification has shaped our business. Having started on my own, what rapidly becomes apparent is the amount of things I had no clue about. As a business grows, those boundaries of ignorance expand continually.
It is hard to explain just how valuable it has been to come across the Impact Assessment tool because nothing else I’ve ever seen can tangibly roadmap cultural development for an organisation. Every time we have been through the assessment, it has opened our eyes to things, not on our radar, and as well as asking the questions, by providing the answers to choose from, it gives signposts as to what the outcomes could be if this is an area you have not come across before.
By way of example, on our first certification, I remember the question, “What is your paternity leave policy?”. I can still remember thinking, Why on earth would I need one of those? As I read through the list of answers, I caught sight of “shared parental leave”. Five mins of googling later, I had a whole new awareness of an area that has a huge impact on the lives of new parents and some of the radically different approaches now possible that I hadn’t even heard of. The great joy of being a small, independently owned business is that as we go through the assessment, we can look for the things we most want to do and use the answers to set our aspirations and go forwards.
Our scores have gone from 83.2 to 109.1 and, most recently, 141.2, which speak to the extent of the impact of the community and framework on Fluid."
The Cheeky Panda: "Achieving B Corp certification has bolstered The Cheeky Panda's business strategy by reinforcing its brand identity as a sustainable and socially conscious company. This recognition enhances trust and loyalty among consumers and business partners prioritising ethical and eco-friendly products. Moreover, it differentiates The Cheeky Panda in the competitive market and aligns the company with like-minded businesses and investors, opening up new opportunities."
As part of your B Corp journey, which specific initiative have you introduced that you are most proud of and why?
The Progeny Group: "There have been several initiatives throughout our certification that have aligned really well with the B-Corp values and assessment process and stood us in good stead for achieving the required benchmark, but it is probably more accurate to state that these initiatives were already in planning. B-corp provided the focus to get these in place. For example, this includes policies, processes and guidelines to support sustainable working from home and the selection of a more sustainability-focused contractor on a recent office refurbishment.
One specific item that we are particularly proud of is the formation of our B-Keepers group. This is a group of individuals who are particularly passionate about making a difference within our business and externally and who are positively driving engagement with the B-Corp values across the wider business."
Leda: "It’s a little early to say, but one thing we have recently introduced is paid volunteering leave for staff to spend time helping local organisations."
Diversifying Group: "Throughout our B Corp journey, we have been reviewing our employee handbook to ensure we live and breathe the B Corp values alongside our own. We have streamlined and enhanced our policies and guidance to support all our diverse employees’ needs better. We are also currently exploring a new initiative to bring together inclusive recruiters around the UK with a central hub for discussion, support, and resources – watch this space!"
Woola: "The honest answer is that in terms of social and environmental impact, we did not introduce a lot of new initiatives as a part of our B Corp journey. This is mainly because we've been mindful of our social and environmental impact from day 1."
Fluid IT: "Back in 2017, I decided to go and see a counsellor. With various family complications making it unusually difficult to do this outside of working hours, and also because the company was responsible for a number of the contributing factors that led to the counselling, I took the decision that I would therefore do it during the week, and the company could pay for it. Not long after starting, the difference it made began to come through, and I reflected on the privilege of being in a position to make that decision. It occurred to me that the company might also be a significant cause of stress for others and that they also might struggle to fit it in outside of work or, indeed, pay for it. So, I began talking about it with the team why I was doing it, and when and how.
Initially, we started by saying that if anyone wanted counselling, they could do it during working hours, and we would pay for the first three months, after which anyone earning over 30k could take on the expense themselves. We have since decided to pay for anyone for as long as they want it. It has been amazing to see people take us up on the offer, and a privilege to support them as they wade through the mess that life can throw at us.
Many of our team have worked through significant challenges, and I’m incredibly impressed by how resilient they have proven themselves to be and how they have all grown. It has been exciting to see how some have accessed this support that they would not have been able to in their own time, and a deep joy to support people at a point of need."
The Cheeky Panda: "We are most proud of our new partnership with WWF, a leading environmental organisation that can guide and support our sustainability efforts. Being a B Corp, The Cheeky Panda and WWF partnering makes sense, given our mutual focus on sustainability and environmental conservation. As a producer of bamboo-based hygiene products, we are inherently involved in forestry management and sustainable sourcing. This plays perfectly into what B Corp companies should be trying to achieve, better companies for a better world."
If you had to describe your company’s culture in one word, what would it be?
The Progeny Group: "Entrepreneurial."
Diversifying Group: "Inclusive."
Woola: "Optimistic — you need to be an optimist to tackle climate change and turn the packaging industry upside-down. We often say, “sometimes lose, always win” because that’s the kind of mindset that keeps us going and winning."
Fluid IT: "Releasing potential. We’re in the business of finding solutions that release the potential of people and technology. We want to set our clients and our staff free to thrive in doing what they do best."
The Cheeky Panda: "Sustainable."
What are your future aspirations as a B Corp?
The Progeny Group: "Our aspirations probably fall into two camps. Firstly, we are focused on creating initiatives across the business that deliver benefits for the key communities of clients and colleagues, primarily by introducing the B-Corp question - “Is this the right thing to do?”- to decision-making.
We are also keen to use Progeny’s B-Corp status to engage other businesses across financial and professional services to influence positive change within the industry. This could be through creating working groups that look at unifying views and creating education opportunities around ESG investment or simply creating further level of transparency on the industry’s sustainability goals and ambitions."
Leda: "To make connections with other UK B Corps in our industry.
To set our goals and use the certification process to improve our business impact continually."
Diversifying Group: "The B Corp certification propels us forward on our mission. We aim to expand our reach to provide more organisations with the tools, insights, and audience to make real and tangible progress for social change. We strive to be thought leaders in the D&I field, developing innovative solutions and sparking important conversations to make equal and equitable workplaces a reality for all."
Woola: "As a start-up, we are ever-evolving, and sometimes, change can be very rapid. For us, the main aspiration is to keep up our high results — an overall score of 107.1 based on the B Impact assessment — as we grow."
Fluid IT: "We’re excited to see how the standard evolves and to keep learning. We’ve been working hard at encouraging clients to certify; (we love you, Society!) we’ve been badgering our suppliers to certify, and we’re currently working on a few of our competitors to try and bring them into the fold. Whilst sad to see the ‘Best for the World’ scheme come to an end, we’re looking forward to whatever replaces it. We want to use our voice as a business to encourage other organisations to be a force for good, too: globally speaking, we are the smallest drop of water in an ocean of business. But the decision to be a slow business, to be a business that cares for staff and clients alike, has been such a joyful one: I cannot imagine a more satisfying way to work."
The Cheeky Panda: "Our biggest aspiration is to become one of the first B corps in consumer goods to go public and set a waypoint for future green businesses to go to market. If the FTSE was full of green companies, then our economy and world would be a better place. That’s something I would be very proud to achieve."
Yard’s B Corp journey
Chief Executive Officer, Collette Easton, shared:
“We are incredibly proud that we have now been recognised achieving this first milestone. However, the work doesn’t stop here. We will continue to strive to evolve our working culture in support of our staff, to foster happy and motivated teams, and provide innovation for our clients. We are very proud of our client partnerships, the majority of whom we have worked with over many years.
At Yard, our core pillars are to deliver the right solutions, for our clients, profitably, by happy people. This means continuing to drive innovation, efficiency and sustainability, always working to develop our culture in these ever-changing ways of working, whether environmental or culturally.”
— Read more about our B Corp journey here.
Stepping into the world of B Corp has been an exhilarating journey that has filled us with immense pride and purpose. We stand tall as a part of this incredible community of change-makers committed to transforming the business landscape for the better. We hope the stories have inspired you to explore the possibilities of joining the B Corp movement and becoming a force for good. To all the visionary brands, thank you for participating in our B Corp series and sharing your inspiring stories! It's only the beginning of the journey.