We’re over the moon to announce that ThreeTenSeven is officially a B Corp!
If you’re not familiar, B Corp is a relatively new business classification which is awarded to businesses and organisations that place people, planet and purpose above profit. ThreeTenSeven is a strongly purpose-led business, so it was really important to us to formalise our commitment to doing business in a better way and to hold ourselves to account. Our B Corp status does exactly that.
If truth be told, the road to B Corp has been long and arduous, and we’re glad to have it in the bag, so we can get on with living by our B Corp values (and socialising in evenings again). Yet, despite the pain, the process has been hugely beneficial, setting in motion changes that would have been hard to come by without it. If you’re wondering what’s involved or why it’s a big deal, here’s a little of what we’ve learned along the way.
The first learning is the time and distraction that B Corp accreditation demands. The process is especially taxing for smaller businesses, who are unlikely to be able to appoint one or more people full-time to B Corp, and more likely to be running this project between the leadership team. Kudos to anyone who does this. We know of one larger business who managed to get accredited in 3 months, from start to finish, thanks to a dedicated B Corp manager and wider business support. For us, applying for B Corp alongside running a business was extremely challenging, and it took us the best part of 2 years from start to finish. It became a labour of love, and we questioned the decision at several points, but it was determination and sheer bloody-mindedness that got us through. If you’re considering it, be dedicated to the outcome and realistic about the distraction it will present to the business. Appoint a dedicated sponsor and PM if you can.
The second learning for us is that the process is the benefit, not the accreditation. There are three main stages of verification, with dozens of questions being asked at each point to ascertain your performance in five areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. You don’t have to perform equally well in all of these areas; for example, as we produce very little waste compared to manufacturing business, we had less evidence on our efforts to reduce carbon footprint versus, say, our impact on the community.
Through the B Corp process, you’re asked to evidence compliance with the areas in which you’re focussing. That means sharing written narratives and proof, too – everything from written policies, pictures of you delivering support in the community, training presentations, Board agendas, photos of your recycling facilities, job adverts… It’s extensive.
Some businesses may have this evidence in the bag already, but B Lab assure us that this usually isn’t the case. For us, we live by strong values but had had little cause to document it. As such, much of this evidence and documentation was created throughout our B Corp journey. That’s what made it so transformative; it wasn’t just about a stamp to say that what we’re doing already is brilliant, it actually made us more brilliant. It forced us to formalise it what might otherwise be held in heads, and it made us put in place a way of staying accountable in future. In other words, the pain of the journey is the point.
The process has wider benefits of course. In proving compliance to B Lab, you’re forced to collate performance data and evidence that you might not otherwise bother with, especially as a smaller business. This has provided exceeding helpful for improving and expanding our management information, improves performance in procurement-led sales exercises, and can even fuel content marketing.
It’s worth considering that you don’t need to wait until you’re accredited to feel the B Corp benefit. B Corp status is increasingly understood by clients and prospects, so for us, just being able to tell the world that we were on a B Corp journey was incredibly helpful. It’s shorthand for the type of business we are. This is only increasing; look at how much advertising and packaging now features the B Corp logo, testament to the increased salience of the movement.
That shorthand also translates beautifully into our team, so don’t underestimate the power that ESG holds for culture. We know that purpose matters to the global workforce, and practically all brands are leading with their ESG claims in an effort to appeal to recruits. Being able to actually evidence our values through B Corp has been helpful in recruitment, and we’ve heard it mentioned repeatedly as a positive message in job interviews.
Internally, the team also use it as a standard for measuring our behaviour. ‘That’s not very B Corp’ is a phrase that’s thrown around the studio practically daily, and it’s a valuable acid test.
The journey to B Corp accreditation is just the beginning. It’s set us off on a valuable course, and we’re determined to continue to improve the way we do business - for good.