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Innocent interview: spotlight on B Corp

Mark Dunning and Emilie Stephenson

B Corp: doing business the right way

Emilie Stephenson, Head of UK force for good, UK&I and Mark Dunning, Technology director at innocent highlight the benefits of being part of a growing group of companies that believe in doing business the right way.
“Sustainability has been a strong feature of the innocent brand since its launch in 1999.”

Innocent may be one of the biggest and most successful juice brands in the UK and Europe but it has stayed true to its belief that business has a greater role to play in the world than making profits. It is also a certified B Corporation, and head of UK force for good Emilie Stephenson and technology director Mark Dunning highlight the benefits of being part of a growing group of companies that believe in doing business the right way.

Sustainability has been a strong feature of the innocent brand since its launch in 1999. It became the first company to investigate and use 100% recycled plastic, while the innocent foundation commits 10% of its profits to help the world’s hungry. In 2009, Coca-Cola started investing in the business and, as with any change of ownership, employees wondered what the implications would be to its commitments, Stephenson recalls.

“We operate on a ‘connected not integrated’ model. Not only did Coca-Cola not change anything to our commitments and are fully supportive of our B Corp status and sustainability initiatives, but they have also given us the opportunity to partner with them on R&D sustainability projects like new technologies for using bio-plastic in our bottles.”
“ For me, the first certification reflected who we are. The recertification was about making sure we always tried to do better and it gave focus to some specific projects.”
Emilie Stephenson, Head of UK force for good, UK&I, innocent

Engaging stakeholders in the B Corp journey
 

In 2018, innocent secured B Corp certification. With recertification in 2021, the company achieved a score of over 100, one of the highest possible. “For me, the first certification reflected who we are,” says Stephenson. “The recertification was about making sure we always tried to do better and it gave focus to some specific projects, for example, around diversity and inclusion and gender equality through the equal sharing of parental leave between mothers and fathers.”

Working towards and achieving B Corp certification had the effect of galvanising people to make it happen and raising awareness among customers. “Internally staff are as motivated as ever and externally there is definitely more traction,” explains Stephenson.

It also helped the company to engage with suppliers about sustainability. Dunning says: “They became interested when they saw we were part of the B Corp movement. We can help suppliers minimise their carbon footprint – and having the same credentials and principles as the people that you want to work with is becoming increasingly important.”

Modernising technology to be more sustainable

The company is currently making the green transition from data centres to the cloud. “All our new applications are now on SaaS-based platforms, so all we have left internally are our legacy systems. We hope to complete the project by the end of the year,” explains Dunning. “Much of the tech focus has been on sustainability and being carbon-neutral in our new factory. We use a tornado air system to clean the pipes to reduce water usage, reuse heat through heat pumps, we’ve developed zero emission 50 tonne trucks to transport juice and make our own energy through solar panels and wind turbines.”

To any organisation contemplating B Corp certification and stepping up sustainability initiatives, Stephenson’s advice is to think about its staff: “It will always come down to your people. It's about equipping them with information, whether it's through Q&A sessions, webinars or informal chats. When it comes to sustainability in business, everyone is an actor, and it has to start with your people.”
“It will always come down to your people. It’s about equipping them with information, whether it’s through Q&A sessions, webinars or informal chats.”
Emilie Stephenson, Head of UK force for good, UK&I, innocent

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This article originally appeared in Thread, Edition 1. Thread is Kin + Carta’s quarterly magazine that cuts through the complexity of digital transformation. Making sustainable change real, achievable and attainable. 

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