1500 UK businesses achieve B Corp certification

1,500 UK businesses have joined the B Corp sustainability revolution so far this year, hoping to inspire a brighter, more responsible future.

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In a world where the call for sustainable practices and corporate responsibility is growing louder, the United Kingdom has seen a significant milestone reached in the business sector. 

As of September 2023, a total of 1,500 UK businesses have achieved B Corp certification, marking a profound shift towards more ethical and environmentally conscious operations.

The B Corp movement gains momentum

B Corp, short for “Benefit Corporation,” is a global initiative that encourages companies to redefine their purpose beyond profit. It assesses businesses based on their social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. 

These certifications serve as a testament to a company’s commitment to creating a positive impact on the world while generating sustainable profits.

One standout example among the newly certified B Corps is Fallow, Field & Mason PR, a communications and podcast consultancy. They join a select group of just 25 UK-based B Corp communications consultancies, signifying a break from the traditional PR agency model that has faced criticism for supporting clients involved in irresponsible activities – notably activities within the fossil fuel industry.

For Fallow, Field & Mason, the journey to B Corp certification was no easy feat. Their application process required over 70 hours of meticulous examination of every aspect of their three-and-a-half-year-old business. This scrutiny ensured that the company positively impacted all its stakeholders, including the team, clients, the press, and suppliers. The team’s dedication paid off, with FF&M scoring an impressive 86 points during the rigorous verification process, particularly excelling in the employment and community categories.

Aisling Connaughton, co-founder of Cyd Connects, a sustainability consultancy that guided FF&M through the B Corp certification process, highlights a growing trend among media outlets and agencies. “Promoting businesses that are ruining the planet has consequences and it’s time we start being accountable for our actions.”

It’s not just PR agencies that are embracing the B Corp ethos, either. In the wider media sector, several prominent companies have also achieved B Corp certification. Country & Town House, a respected luxury lifestyle magazine, became the world’s first B Corp glossy magazine in August 2023. Additionally, business title Raconteur and even national newspapers like The Guardian have joined the B Corp ranks.

Lucy Cleland, founding editor of Country & Town House, notes: “Given the huge social and environmental issues that threaten us on a micro and a macro level, I really think businesses have a crucial role to play. Getting our B Corp certification was a public way of showing our staff, our readers and our advertisers how seriously we take our responsibilities towards being an ethical business.”

Empowering small businesses: a new opportunity

While the B Corp movement has gained significant traction among larger companies and media outlets, it also holds great importance for small businesses. In fact, it can be argued that the principles of B Corp certification are particularly beneficial for smaller enterprises. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Differentiation and competitive advantage: small businesses often face intense competition in their respective markets. Achieving B Corp certification sets them apart by showcasing their commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. This can attract a loyal customer base that prioritises supporting responsible businesses.
  • Access to a supportive network: B Corp certification provides access to a global community of like-minded businesses. Small businesses can tap into this network for guidance, partnerships, and shared resources, creating valuable opportunities for growth and collaboration.
  • A symbol of trust: trust is paramount for small businesses, especially when competing with larger, well-established brands. B Corp certification is a visible symbol of trustworthiness, assuring customers that the business operates with integrity and social responsibility.
  • Potential to attract venture capital and angel investors: small businesses seeking investment can benefit from B Corp certification. Ethical and sustainable businesses often attract impact investors who are not only interested in financial returns but also positive social and environmental outcomes.
  • Aligning with values: Many small business owners are deeply passionate about their values and the impact their businesses have on the world. B Corp certification aligns with these values, providing a framework to ensure that business practices mirror the owner’s personal convictions.

The gold standard in responsibility

B Corp certification is considered the gold standard for assessing a company’s social and environmental impact. To achieve this certification, businesses must demonstrate a genuine commitment to redirecting their operations towards social and environmental good, rather than merely making empty promises.

A survey from 2021 found that 70% of those familiar with B Corps would be more likely to buy from a B Corp-certified business. This growing trust underscores the importance of authenticity and action in the pursuit of sustainable business practices.

Conclusion: a brighter future for UK businesses

The B Corp movement’s growth in the UK represents a significant step towards a more sustainable and responsible future for businesses. These certifications signal a fundamental shift in how companies view their role in society, placing equal importance on profit and planet. As businesses increasingly align with ethical and environmental values, the B Corp movement is proving to be a powerful driver of positive change in the UK and beyond.

What makes the UK leaders in this movement?

  • The UK is one of the fastest growing B Corp communities in the world, with more B Corps than in the whole of mainland Europe combined.
  • With over 500 B Corps, London is the city with the most B Corps in the world – including Danone UK, Mindful Chef, teapigs, innocent Drinks, Seismic, Candy Kittens, Sipsmith, Pip & Nut and many more.
  • B Corps have a faster growth in turnover (27% vs 5%) and employee headcount (14% vs 1%), greater levels of employee retention, engagement and diversity, higher levels of innovation and are more successful in securing equity finance (70% vs 56%). 
  • This year 165 UK B Corps were honoured as Best for the World, a global measure of the highest impact B Corp businesses. And over 400  B Corp employees are members of a working group, coming together to address sectoral or issue-specific challenges.
  • UK B Corps (mission-led businesses) are more likely to reduce the burden of the cost of living crisis for their employees, suppliers and local community than non-mission-led businesses and take steps to reduce their impact on climate change and the environment.

Source: B Corporation UK

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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