Our B Corp Journey: C-Level on where the B Impact Assessment took our business
Daren Howarth, founder and CEO of C-Level, has written about his experience of pursuing B Corp certification, and how it immediately starts change happening.
C-Level helps companies identify, invest in and capture the life changing impact of the world’s most innovative climate projects. They offer businesses the chance to become carbon balanced through working with forests and forest peoples.
All done and dusted, or so I thought. But the B Corp team kept coming back for more… more questions, more digging, checking and encouraging.
B Corp have put together a rigorous approach to certification. I am seriously impressed so far. They also back this up with the right amount of live contact with people who really understand the questions being asked and are really trying to help companies keep going on the certification journey. They are of course also verifying the answers we have given!
All of this means that after years of involvement with eco-standards and labels, we have engaged with something with the right balance - intention, rigour and clarity wrapped into B.
Let’s be clear, this has taken a fair bit of time. C-Level is a small consultancy - helping businesses navigate around carbon projects and their stories. But even so we have put in 3 days over a couple of months. That could have been less, I could have passed over some of of the rabbit holes that the B Impact Assessment opened up for us. But we built up a fair bit of steam and appetite for changing the way we do things while going through the assessment.
B Fit for Purpose
The B Impact Assessment is big on supply chain. The B Corp assessment process encouraged us to look at suppliers and find those that align in terms of mission.
That made immediate sense to us as a business. Many C-Level carbon balanced clients spend a lot of time assessing their carbon impact within their own supply chains (scope 3 emissions).
Telecoms, Catering and Banking suppliers all came up for us as areas to explore. These are certainly not the most important C-Level suppliers in terms of spend or in terms of impact socio ecologically. But all 3 areas brought up ideas for action during the assessment.
First banking. Like many mission-led businesses, C-Level banks with the Cooperative Bank. There have been some big changes at this bank in recent years, so we wanted to pose a few questions around is it truly a cooperative? What banking standards have they signed up to? We haven’t heard back as yet... and the banking choice we make, as with other supplier choices, all affects B-Corp scoring.
Second up was catering. Chartwells are the leading provider of catering to UK schools and universities, and they do the catering where C-Level is based at the Innovation Centre, Brighton. Questions were raised in the assessment about waste management including a bit about food waste. Curious, we took a look - where does food waste goes at the end of the day? Straight into the wheelie bin out back! Given the quality of waste innovation around Brighton, like the Real Junk Food Project, this seemed strange. We are currently still waiting to hear about the policies that drive this decision.
This lack of progress really highlighted the importance of B Corp for me. Searching through company policies and chasing up sustainability managers is tough and time consuming. Like the B Corp certification!
B Corp Switch
Finally, we used the assessment to look to make change in our business telecoms. This has always been an area of interest to C-Level because of the travel and carbon reduction inherent in the product. Looking for a positive opportunity to improve led us to the Phone Cooperative.
The Phone Cooperative provides what looks like a great business solution for us in the form of Unified Communications (super flexible numbers that integrate mobiles, landlines, laptops and so on). Not just that, they manage their carbon footprint, and they are the only communications company that is a consumer cooperative. Mission aligned! We are now in the process of moving our business over to the Phone Cooperative.
There is more we can look at for the future, but we have just very happily sailed our ship over the benchmark for B Corp Certification, so for C-Level our energy can go into finding out more about our new community. First up looks like the 2-day B Together Retreat for the UK in June. Still plenty of time to become a B Corp and I will see you there... and if anyone is feeling indecisive about B Corp and needs an independent view, just get in touch.