FH: stories | Bringing B-corps to Folkestone

Balancing social responsibility and profit has never been more important for modern businesses. At a time when consumers are increasingly conscious of how their spending habits impact both the environment and society, more and more companies are considering becoming ‘B Corps’. 

 

Certified B Corporations essentially aim to use business as a force for good, and seek to ‘accelerate a global shift to redefine success and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy’. B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. In this respect, they will meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. 

 

The B Corp movement was founded in 2006 and there are now 2,500 certified B Corps in 50 countries, including Ben & Jerry’s, Hootsuite, Abel & Cole and Pukka. 

Certified B Corps in the UK are also growing 28 times faster than the national economic growth of 0.5 percent. And now several Folkestone businesses are now flying the flag for B Corp status, and want to spread the good work to others.

Helenor Rogers of Folkestone based Troo Foods hopes to achieve certification by the end of the year: “Essentially, it’s about committing to making a positive impact on the world with your business. To get B Corp certification, you need to tick a lot of boxes – how you run your business, your impact on the local community, how you treat employees, how flexible and diverse you are, your energy suppliers. It examines every single part of your business.”

Recent studies in the US showed that 64% of millennials said it was a priority for them to make the world a better place and, according to B Corp’s own analysis, more than 66% of consumers are willing to spend more for goods and services that have a positive impact.

Troo Foods is a purpose driven company selling gut-healthy granola that is vegan, gluten free and uses plastic free packaging. While achieving the certification is not without challenges, Helenor feels B Corp status is the only way forward for her business.

“There have been many times when I thought ‘if we weren’t plastic free, it would be much easier’. But when your brand has ‘troo’ (true) in the title, you have to be true to your ethics.

“It is challenging for established companies but it’s just the way it should be and you should be questioning all your practices. And if you’re a start up, you may as well set your stall this way from the start.”

Helenor is not the only Folkestone-based business taking a responsible approach. Flourish, a micro brand agency based at Digital: Glassworks, is also on the B Corp pathway and hopes to gain the accreditation in 2020. Founder Warren Sutton explains: “It’s about making sure everyone is well looked after – suppliers, customers and staff – and using business for good.”

Certified B Corporations are social enterprises verified by B Lab, a non-profit organization. B Lab certifies companies based on how they create value for non-shareholding stakeholders, such as their employees, the local community, and the environment. Once a firm crosses a certain performance threshold on these dimensions, it makes amendments to its corporate charter to incorporate the interests of all stakeholders into the fiduciary duties of directors and officers. These steps demonstrate that a firm is following a fundamentally different governance philosophy than a traditional shareholder-centred corporation.

For more information on B Corporations within the UK, you can visit the website bcorporation.uk

 

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