What does it mean for WHEB to be a B Corp?

What does it mean for WHEB to be a B Corp?

Laura Grenier (Director of Operations)

I had only recently joined WHEB in 2015 when George Latham (Managing Partner) asked me if I knew what it meant to be a B Corp. I didn’t! But soon afterwards I embarked on the journey to certification, and in 2016 WHEB joined the cohort of founding B Corps in the UK.

Roll the clock forward to 2024 and there are now more than 1,500 B Corps in the UK, and over 6,000 worldwide in more than 80 countries spanning 150 industries. We are now in the company of many well-known brands and there are even  B Corp aisles in the UK supermarket chain Waitrose, where you can add positive impact to your weekly shop!

So, what does it mean to be a B Corp?

Primarily, a B Corp has to legally commit (by changing its constitutional documents), to be accountable to all stakeholders, not just its shareholders. Just as important as the legal framework, is the assessment. This is an intensive process that ensures that key stakeholders are taken into account in decision-making and that processes and performance is verified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Focusing on ‘five pillars’ this requires consideration of the impact of the firm’s activities vis-à-vis Governance, Workers, Customers, Environment, and Community. During the certification process, we realised that this approach to doing business was very much aligned with WHEB’s own mission “To advance sustainability and create prosperity through positive impact investments”.

The process of certification itself offered us the opportunity to consider how well we serve the interests of these stakeholders. As we were completing the initial assessment, we quickly realised where we had a gap or didn’t score so well, and could ask ourselves whether this was an opportunity to do things better? The answer was very often: ‘Yes’!

Approaching the certification with this mindset has enabled us to embrace the challenge and actively seek improvements in the way our business interacts with all of our stakeholders. Our score increased accordingly; in 2016 we registered a score of 106.6, in 2018 we achieved 125.4 and our current impact score is 139. The B Lab assessment is, in our view, a really useful framework for continuous improvement.

Being part of the B Corp community has many other benefits including valuable opportunities to knowledge share and network with like-minded businesses and their teams with a common aligned goal to address society’s most critical challenges, from different sectors, businesses, and countries. We also try to ensure our own procurement is focused on other B Corps wherever possible.

As we set off on another recertification cycle, we are excited to continue on this journey with the B Corp community. We look forward to making further improvements to our score and being at the vanguard of the movement to transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.

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