The B Lab UK team share how they got here, what inspires them about the B Corp movement and what they’ve got planned for the year ahead.
B Lab is the non-profit organisation behind the B Corp movement. Originally founded in the US, there are B Lab offices across Europe, South America, Australia and East Africa and each one is working to expand and support the community of Certified B Corporations in their market.
B Lab UK launched almost four years ago, in September 2015 - and boy have we been busy! Since launch, we’ve been working to support the community of UK-based B Corps, grow awareness about the B Corp movement and unite people who are committed to using business as a force for good. Here’s an insight into how we got here, what inspires us most about working at B Lab and what we’ve got planned for the year ahead.
Catherine Draper, Community Coordinator
Studying Sociology at University, co-founding a bicycle rental scheme in Bristol and volunteering at various environmental organisations, assured me that I wanted a career that brought together entrepreneurship, sustainability, and social justice. Finding B Lab and the B Corp movement was the perfect fit.
Stories about the impact created when B Corps meet, connect and collaborate, inspire me every day and an example of this is Hermione’s story. In 2017, Hermione, CEO of B Corp Do Nation, was deciding whether or not to keep her company going. Over the course of the B Corp Community Retreat, and throughout the rest of the year, the B Corp community offered desk space, pro-bono services and made over 6,000 pledges on the Do Nation platform. This renewed Hermione’s hope and energy and helped the business grow to where it is today… very inspiring stuff!
I love working with passionate and committed people from all corners of the globe and being able to bring my dog Gunther to work is just the icing on the cake!
Amy Bourbeau, Assessment and Certification
I’ve been working as a B Corp consultant since 2015. I help organisations achieve and maintain certification and use the B Impact Assessment to measure their impact and identify potential areas of improvement. I’ve been working with B Lab UK, 2 days a week, for about a year and a half.
A story I love about the community is about Ben and Jerry’s, who were inspired to certify by one of their B Corp suppliers, Greyston Bakery. Since then, they’ve encouraged another one of their suppliers, Macphie, to certify as a B Corp. Ripples become waves!
I believe in B Corp so much and love being able to help the community grow. Every company is unique, so I really enjoy learning about each individual applicant, the challenges they face and the impact they have on the world. Over the next year, I’m excited to help grow a diverse B Corp community with a strong regional presence across the UK.
Chris Turner, Executive Director
I found my way to B Lab after spending many years trying to combine a career in business, and particularly working with entrepreneurs and innovative leaders, with a desire to drive positive social impact. After building startups, consulting, and working in international development, I’ve now found the best of both worlds!
Every business that makes the B Corp commitment is inspiring, but it’s particularly powerful when businesses begin to demand commitment from their partners and suppliers. I love the story of Ella’s Kitchen asking their suppliers to complete the B Impact Assessment. This proves to Ella’s that their partners share their values, and it’s also resulted in B Corp certifications such as Havas London. Such a great way to grow the movement.
In the months to come, we will be certifying more and more B Corps as we grow our community in the UK. We’re seeing our model of stakeholder capitalism entering the mainstream, in the minds of business leaders and citizens. And the more mainstream this model becomes, the closer we get to a prosperous future for all.
Hannah Reiss, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Before joining B Lab I was working as a fashion stylist (this might seem like a tenuous link, so bear with me). After learning about the devastating impact the fashion industry has on our planet, I found myself looking for a credible solution that could cut through the greenwashing and confusion — enter B Corp! In October 2018, I helped B Lab organise an event ‘Learn to B: Tackling Transparency in Fashion’ and in February this year I joined the team full time.
The best part of my job is sharing stories about how B Corps are doing business differently. Since joining B Lab, I’ve learnt about how hundreds of businesses are taking climate action, giving back to communities around the world, empowering their workers and encouraging and supporting one another to create a fairer system for all.
We’re a team with lots of ideas and energy and there are really exciting plans in place for the next year. We’re thrilled to be hosting B Inspired in London in October, bringing together hundreds of people to explore the future of business and amplifying the stories from the community.
James Ghaffari, Director of B Corp Certification
I have spent most of my career working with companies that want to do business in a different way. This includes: working with large international companies in sub-Saharan Africa to ensure local suppliers were able to access new markets and finance, and rethinking business models to make products more affordable for the lowest socioeconomic groups.
I think COOK are a fantastic example of a B Corp that has used certification as a framework to help them improve year-on-year and as a shared goal that brings their stakeholders together. They were also my first introduction to B Corp when, earlier this year at a B Lab event, I heard them talk about their RAW Talent Programme, an employment and training scheme which supports people who have spent time in prison or without secure housing. This assured me that these were the kinds of inspiring businesses I wanted to work with everyday.
My focus this year will be on building a B Corp community that reflects the UK economy: large and small businesses, across all industries, across all regions, with diverse and passionate leadership. As we see more multinationals wanting to become B Corps, we will be finding new ways to support these businesses through certification, creating industry leaders and examples for other large companies to follow.
Kate Sandle, Director of Partnerships and Engagement
I’ve always been driven by the idea that business has an important role to play in society and an incredible power to create change. Prior to B Lab I worked for a charity promoting economic development within the private sector in Israel and Palestine. With a belief that business could be instrumental in creating a more inclusive society I joined B Lab at its launch in the UK. As the organisation has evolved I have worked across many areas but always with the B Corp community at heart.
Now, we are at a pinnacle moment in history and, with others, the B Corp movement is able to be part of the change we so badly need. To do this, B Lab will continue to celebrate stories of B Corps and encourage improvement in business practice. We will continue to build on the momentum we are seeing in the UK, drawing attention to the climate emergency we face and focusing on equity, diversity and inclusion.
Our community are the heartbeat of this movement, proving that shareholders are one component of a successful business, not the driving force. I feel fortunate to work with pioneers, disrupters and innovators whose energy drives the work at B Lab. Whether it’s innovating prison rehabilitation, shifting to employee ownership, radically changing energy supply or challenging the advertising industry, B Corps are leading the way.
A first step for businesses interested in measuring their social and environmental impact is by using the free B Impact Assessment tool. Any company wishing to certify as a B Corp has its performance assessed by B Lab across all dimensions of its business. These companies are on a journey of continuous improvement to ensure business leverages its power to be a positive force in the world.
To get stories, news and insights delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter here.