In May 2020, our founder Christian asked me if I wanted to take the lead on Pawprint’s B Corp application process. Having recently found out what a B Corp was (and feeling particularly inspired by the idea that businesses might stand for something more than profit -- a novel idea, to me, at the time!) I agreed without hesitation.
Oh Past Beth… She had no idea what she was signing herself up to.
I say this half in jest; the B Corp process really did put us through our paces. When we started out, we were a 7-person team with good intentions but a pretty rudimentary understanding of what it meant to be a business that’s a force for good. Now -- because we’ve had to consider all aspects of the business, from our workers to our customers; our suppliers to our wider community; and, of course, the environment -- our understanding of this responsibility is so much deeper. This alone has made all of the hard work worthwhile.
'Today is one of the most important days in Pawprint’s short history and definitely my working life… Certified B Corps are a new kind of business; ones which balance purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Maybe one day all our businesses will be B Corps!' - Founder and CEO, Christian Arno
If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Maybe I should put my company/workplace through this assessment’ my advice would be -- go for it! It’s a truly eye-opening exercise which, if treated with care and respect, will transform your business into a leader of tomorrow’s business world.
Here are a few things I wish I’d known when we started out:
Use the assessment as a blueprint. If you start the assessment and think, ‘Man, we don’t have half of the stuff B Corp requires’, don’t give up! I think it’s pretty rare for a company to already be at B Corp standard when it begins this process. Let the assessment guide you to improve how your business does things, and then hit ‘submit’ once you’re ready. For insight, it took Pawprint 18 months to submit our application to B Lab.
Don’t try to do it alone. Honestly, you just can’t. There’s so much to look into, to document and to action that trying to be a one-man band will only slow the process down. I recommend forming a B-committee and recruiting people who are passionate about the issues that B Corp scores you on. The assessment is split up into Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers, so you could even appoint a leader for each section, with sub-committees under them.
Make sure you have buy-in from the top. To pass the assessment, it’s likely that you’ll have to make a few changes to the business (not least the adoption of a legal form that requires consideration of all stakeholders). Leadership buy-in is essential. This article on ‘How to convince your employer to think green’ has a few tips and tricks to get decision makers on-side.
Use the resources B Corp provides. Here you’ll find the B Impact Assessment Knowledge Base. It’s a treasure trove of useful information to help you untangle what you’re being asked to do. Please note: throughout the process you will have many ‘what the…?’ moments. Persevere (strong arm emoji). Make use of the ‘New support ticket’ feature if you get stuck, but don’t expect a quick response. B Corp is very busy, which is a win for the world but not for those of us trying to tick ‘Become a B Corp’ off of our to-do list. Can’t win 'em all...
I hope this has been useful! Pawprint wears the B Corp badge proudly and hopes it instills an added layer of faith in what it is we’re trying to do; to empower employees to fight climate change at work, home and beyond. If you’d like to know more about our employee engagement tool for climate action, book a demo today.