Redefining Success: Building a Startup in the 21st Century.
Why did we change our company status to become a B Corp?
Six years ago, my co-founder Rob and I left our corporate jobs to do something different with our careers.
For us, ‘different’ meant many things: it was about doing work that helped us fulfil our potential — work that would allow us to look back and say we hadn’t wasted our time on earth working for a cause we didn’t believe in.
So we built Escape the City as a community for all those frustrated and ambitious professionals who want to build careers on their own terms.
We vowed that if the organisation ever grew beyond the two of us we’d make sure it mirrored our ‘do something different’ philosophy. This would include doing things differently everywhere in the organisation — from the people we hired to the products we offered.
“Doing something different” was our definition of success.
Unfortunately, our legal company structure said otherwise. When you incorporate a company in the UK, you agree to being legally bound to make business profit your number one priority. The interests of shareholders are expected to reign supreme over those of employees, customers and other stakeholders. Profits are your bottom line.
There’s a lot that comes with that. When money is the only thing that matters, bad habits — short-termism, a preference for hyper-efficiency over individual human experience, blindness to environmental concerns — are all too easy to fall into. For the founders, these kinds of pressures can lead you to lose sight of the reasons you started the business.
Are we building the business we wanted to create?
Success for a UK company means profit. We were a commercial organisation with lots of social aspirations and we felt like a square peg in a round hole.
It was time to re-evaluate. For Rob and I, this meant it was time to re-incorporate. In September, the B Corp movement launched in the UK. Certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business. There is now a formal framework for how a different definition of success can be measured, monitored and certified.
We are incredibly proud, relieved and excited to announce that Escape the City has become one of 62 founding Certified B Corps in the United Kingdom.
We now have a triple bottom line…
- Shareholder profits
- A material positive impact on society
- …and on the environment.
We are now required to meet higher standards across our social and environmental practices, offer greater transparency, and heighten our legal accountability. Put simply, being a B Corp is like having a Fair Trade certification — but for a whole business, not just a bag of coffee.
We and the 61 other founding UK B Corporations have been given a template to run our businesses for the benefit of more than ourselves and our shareholders.
What does becoming a B Corp mean for us and our community?
Our promise to our community…
Your success is our success. Our success has been refocused on your outcomes — that is, our ability to help you make brave career changes, build and run successful businesses, and to create wider social challenges to the way employers operate. We measure our impact through tracking the outcomes of our main programmes — the Escape Tribe and the Startup Tribe — and monitoring Triber progress over time across a range of external and internal measures.
Our promise to our team…
We are committed to building a genuinely 21st Century workplace. We want Escape to be the place that you fulfil your potential. We are committed to transparency, openness and fairness. We will provide you with the environment to build a 21st Century Career and together we will work to debunk the myth that doing work with purpose requires sacrifices.
Our promise to our crowdfunding investors…
We are of course committed to building Escape the City into a valuable asset. We feel the best way to get there is to take a long-term, sustainable view, a view which promises that growth will not come at the expense of negative impact on our team, the environment or our community.
We believe that B Corp is the future of business.
And we are thrilled to be part of it.
Find out more about B Corps and how to become one: http://bcorporation.uk/