Small actions make a big difference
How the B Corp community gave hope, brought energy, and turned around the economics of a business. By Hermione Taylor, CEO at Do Nation
It may seem strange, but nothing has taught me the truth in Do Nation’s long held mantra quite like our B Corp journey has. Small actions really do add up to make a big difference.
Let me explain.
Two years ago, we were on the brink of closing Do Nation down. We’d managed to keep it running for six years, helping thousands of people to change behaviours and engage their communities in sustainability, but our energy and money were running out fast. No matter how much we still believed in our product, we just couldn’t keep it going.
So it was in a sad and sombre frame of mind that I found myself at my first B Corp retreat down in Sussex. And that’s when things started to change…
During the “B Corp Ripples” session, where people get up and share stories of how they’ve worked with other B Corps, Pukka Herbs, shared their story of how they’d asked employees to make pledges on Do Nation to “B the Change” when they certified.
Several other people there had used Do Nation, and enthusiastically shared stories with me of the impact their pledges had had on their own lives — they’d become fully vegetarian; their housemate had finally started recycling; they’d managed to crack their fear of cycling. I don’t often get to hear directly from the people making pledges — we just see them as names and numbers through the site — so hearing first hand about the very real impact it had had on their habits and attitudes was incredibly motivating.
Over the rest of the retreat, I had a stream of B Corps, including some great household names like Cook, Ella’s Kitchen, Ecover, saying they wanted to run similar campaigns with their own people.
How could I shut down the platform that we’d so lovingly created, when brands I admired so much wanted to use it? So I resolved to continue running it for a little longer.
Back in London, I had a great chat with fellow B Corp Forster Communications. Despite my new resolve and our exciting new clients, working alone from home day in, day out was doing nothing for my mental health. So Forster invited me in to their lovely office, giving me a desk to call my base. Being surrounded by friendly people and their chatter, all working with a strong sense of purpose, had a greater impact on me than I think any of them ever realised. My energy began to come back.
Leap offered us some pro bono design time, putting together a series of great posters to help our clients communicate their campaigns internally.
As a result, we saw 1,340 pledges made by B Corp people that September, each linked to one or more of the SDGs.
Soon after, having heard Pukka Herbs talk about their Do Nation programme, Network Rail signed up.
Cook recommended us to Pret a Manger, who then ran a pledge challenge pitting their global offices against each other for World Environment Day.
Green Element created a podcast about our story.
With things picking up, we started to think about the future again, and made some good changes internally. Inspired by Futerra, we’ve implemented a new slow travel holiday policy, whereby you get an extra day of leave if you travel by land instead of flying.
Soon we’ll be announcing a new “donation of Do Nation” programme, which will see us giving free subscriptions to Do Nation Pro to non-profits and community groups. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, but the BIA gave us a structured lens to think about it through.
This January, BWB, innocent, CafeDirect, and Invivo all joined, asking their people to make pledges for New Year’s Resolutions and B Corp month.
Thanks to them, we’ve now hit a cumulative total of 6,000 pledges made by B Corp staff. While each of these pledges is small in itself, saving on average 33 kg carbon, together they’ve led to annual savings of over 200 tonnes of carbon. That’s as much as is created by producing, shipping, and selling more than 2.5 million bananas.
We’re now looking to create two high-impact new Do Actions in partnership with two B Corps, and we’re testing out an exciting collaboration with another which could see us developing our first fully co-branded and customised version of Do Nation over in Europe.
None of these ripples would have made much difference to our future on their own — but together, just like the pledges themselves, they’ve had a big impact. They were enough to give me hope, to bring back my energy, and to turn around the economics of our business.
So Do Nation is far from over. Thanks to the B Corp community, small actions will continue to make a big difference.
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.
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