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Why work with a B Corp?

Jennifer Crowley
Why work with

Sustainability is slowly becoming part of everyday decision-making for many businesses across the world. More and more of us are acknowledging the responsibility and influence that we have in the business actions we take.

 

Of course, this isn’t easy, but getting really clear on our individual and collective connection to an organisational purpose is the first major step towards making this real and sustained.

 

As an increasing number of businesses seek sustainable solutions, we sat down with Jennifer Crowley, Director of Consulting and Sustainability, to discuss what it means to step into this way of approaching our roles as business leaders. We reflect on Kin + Carta’s role as the London Stock Exchange’s first certified B Corp and look forward to working with more businesses that share similar visions and purposes in this ever-changing world of ours.


What is a B Corp and what are the benefits of working with one?

B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, while maintaining public transparency and legal accountability as they balance profit and purpose. 

The most immediate benefit of working with a B Corp is that the accreditation itself is a robust proof point that the business has its house in order and knows what it stands for.

 

A potential partnership with a B Corp is one that can result in really rich alignment of values, whether you’re a client, supplier or business partner, so we’re excited about the prospects it brings.

 

What differentiator does Kin + Carta offer to clients now that it’s B Corp certified?

It took a great deal of time and effort for us to get here, but it’s not the case that we’re radically different as a business now. We haven’t changed overnight; it’s just that our values and integrity as a business are now publicly verified in a way that clients can completely trust.

 

For us, the certification is our basecamp. The real differentiation starts now in the work we create with and for our clients every single day. We are scaling our techniques, methodologies and skills to incorporate the non-financial KPIs, Sustainable Development Goals commitments and carbon-intensive practices of our clients into the solutions we design for them.

 

Why did Kin + Carta choose to work towards global B Corp certification?

Our push for B Corp accreditation was driven by a number of factors and we knew all the while we’d be subjected to a robust verification process for the independent and internationally recognised certification.

 

It’s one that’s suitable for a company of our size and sector and makes for an active approach to improving the ways in which we operate all the time. We’re always thinking about the positive impact we can have with our services and what our future client base should look like.

Not only that, but we’re now stronger when it comes to legal and recruitment, too. Being a B Corp is a fantastic point of difference to attract and retain talent around the world, as well as a great reminder that our commitments to our stakeholders are legally locked in to our playbook as a business.

 

What was the process of becoming a B Corp like for Kin + Carta?

As rigorous as it was as a process—and rightly so—getting accredited was almost the easy part of being a B Corp. We’re now in that crucial moment of building out our realistic responsibility to our people and our planet for the long term. And this will continue to be very, very difficult.

We’re only human beings and we’re experiencing all the pains and stretches and discomfort that you’d expect, but we know we’re pushing through it for all the right reasons. We’ve got the proof points that this is the right direction to take for Kin + Carta and the businesses we partner with as we strive to build a world that works better for everyone.

Five years ago, businesses were just beginning to understand the ‘why’ of having a purpose, but now we’re at the ‘how’ part of embedding it into our very architecture. It’s about more than strategic direction; it’s about culture and changing the ways you think and operate as an organisation.

As I said, we’re only human and we haven’t done this kind of thing before, so it’s important that we give ourselves a moment to catch up and an opportunity to learn from every moment of change. That’s the only way we’re going to get better at it every day.

 

What are some of the tangible changes Kin + Carta made to achieve certification?

While we’re still operating as the same business with the same principles on the ground, we changed our PLC articles of association after an overwhelmingly supported shareholder vote. This means our board of directors is now legally required to balance profit and purpose, which is hugely significant for us.

We’ve also moved to update our D&I policies to run better recruitment processes and nurture a stronger company culture—our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness initiative has been integral to this.

Personally, I think it’s even more impressive that we’ve achieved this as a PLC because it’s been a larger overhaul of our operations than it would have been if we were 10 or 20 people strong. 

We must acknowledge that we are all part of a global, capitalist system with powerful levers and influences; we must also accept that, through our individual and collective actions and choices, our organisations can and will force change.

 

Why is becoming a triple-bottom-line business more relevant and important than ever?

Well, put simply, becoming a B Corp doesn’t mean being part of an exclusive club, but subscribing to a theory of change that is directed at an even larger portion of the economy. Focusing on the triple-bottom-line is a powerful way to evolve from shareholder-led capitalism to stakeholder-led capitalism.

 

Businesses have more responsibility than ever to do right by their customers, employees and communities because of the sheer volatility of the world around us. In social, economic and environmental terms, we’re bound by a collective duty to do better not only for ourselves, but for our planet for future generations.

 

Can B Corps drive significant change in the world?

They must! If the last 10 years were about sustainable products and responsibly sourced product lines, then the next 10 will surely be about sustainable companies guided by truly responsible and transparent leadership.

We can all see that the B Corp movement is growing rapidly as more and more organisations apply for accreditation, but it’s important for us to maintain a focus on the mindset shift that’s required. We drastically need to move from externalities to interdependencies if genuinely significant change is to be realised.

At Kin + Carta, we’ve intentionally taken on a huge responsibility to be better for our people, our clients and the world around us, so we know we’re only just getting started. We might be the first certified B Corp on the London Stock Exchange, but, as J Schwan, Kin + Carta's former CEO, said, we see it as part of our duty to make sure we’re not the last.

We’re pressing on with a philosophy that combines sustainability initiatives with our specialisms in digital transformation so we can do things a little differently for and with our clients. We're very excited about this, so all I can say to round this off is: watch this space…!


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