Green Element Weekly Podcast – The B Corp Movement
In this episode, we look back at some of the fellow B Corps we have spoke to as part of the Green Element podcast.
Certified B Corps are a new kind of businesses purpose and profit. We are proud member of the B Corp movement
The B Corp impact assessment is a way for you to understand your impact on society and everything around you, using consistent methodology to help strive towards a more sustainable future.
[00:20] What is the B Corp
[01:00] Ossa Organic being a B Corp
[05:00] DoNation on helping companies become more sustainable
[09:30] How to be more sustainable?
[10:30] Adam Huttly of Red Inc
[13:20] Tom Greenwood of Wholegrain Digital
[0:07] Will: You’re listening to another episode of the Green Element Podcast, I’m your host Will Richardson. This is a bit different from our usual episodes. In this episode, you’ll be listening to a few stories and lessons from a few of the B Corp Certified companies that we have had the pleasure of interviewing over this series. If you don’t know about the B Corp movement, the B Corp movement is a way for you to understand your impact on society and everything around you, using consistent methodology. It is really exciting to grow a business with not only your colleagues but also your clients and suppliers, believing in what you are doing. I am eternally grateful to our clients that are sticking by us and have stuck by us and ensuring that we can spread a message that business can be a force for good. With clients like Grant Thornton, Regents University London, and Interpublic Group, we could not be more excited about the future. We along with the rest of the B Corps, and I might add as you have found out on our podcast, many other businesses are really starting to buck the trend. We live in this world together.
[01:09] Will: Here at Green Element, we too are proud to be a B Corp Certified company. So, first up we have Catherine Farrant of Ossa Organic, she shares their excitement of being a B Corp.
[1:20] Catherine: At the moment, definitely our supply chain, I would say we have just been very proud to be announced as a B Corp best for the world honoree in the environment category. And what does that mean? That means that we are one of only two, I think you are the other one?
[01:38] Will: Yes, that’s right.
[01:40] Catherine: One of only two B Corps in the UK, who have an environmental sector or that meet a certain criterion in the environmental space, that is sustainable, that is exceptionally high quality, and that is set up with care for the environment in mind. So, we are very proud that at the moment, where possible, our supply chain is run on renewable energy, we have a biomass boiler. So, once we’ve boiled our bones for up to 24 hours, we return them to the grid to create further energy. The organic farm that also is produced on has solar panels on the roof across the entirety of the farm. And where possible, based on on the UK’s environment, we run on renewable energy. We also upcycle bones, which means that most bones in the UK, made a resurgence used to be incinerated, which means they were a waste product and farms were having to pay once these bones are being butchered to burn them, incinerate them and get rid of them effectively. So, we now collect the bones, so long as they meet our criteria where our soil association and organic and farmers, organic farmers and growers certified. So, if we have bones that are grass fed to organic standards and farm animals that are well cared for without hormones or antibiotics, we will collect those. And they used to be free, funnily enough, Will, but they’re not anymore. So, we’ll pay for them and we will bring them back to the farm and create 03:07 [inaudible] and then return them back to the group. So, we’re very proud of that and I think building a business with sustainable supply chain is our real superpower.
[3:17] Will: Brilliant. So, can you tell us about how you engage your staff, suppliers, customers with your mission and purpose?
[3:25] Catherine: Someone asked me yesterday actually whether it became impossible to do business or create a bottom line or a profit from something that was related to your mission, if you would change your mission or change what you were selling. And I was like, well, Ossa is built on a mission, which is to re-educate people, as I said, about the power of restorative foods, enable people to nourish and heal their bodies by incorporating us into their daily lives. And we try and only work with suppliers that get that. So, our story is very closely linked with our choice of suppliers at the moment, as I said they have to our criteria, which makes us possible to call ourselves organic, and makes it also possible for us to supply into supermarkets. So, I would say that we would change relationships before we thought of compromising our mission. We work together with our suppliers to reduce waste, we work together with our suppliers to promote the use of renewable energy. We encourage our suppliers to look at the B Corp credentials and help raise themselves up to that level. We encourage, and I do myself personally and I know you do as well, we’re like minded in that way, anyone I speak to, I’m like, you should become a B Corp. So, that’s supplies included. We visit our suppliers and look at the way that they’re doing things and the way that they’re thinking etc. Are they looking at just profit or triple bottom line, like people, planet and profit, and we engage with like-minded people? And I think that’s really what makes the world go around, it’s about working with people that get it.
[4:52] Will: So that was Ossa Organic, where they produce naturally, organic bone broth. Now, if you are thinking about how you can make your organization and teams more sustainable, here is what Hermione Taylor of DoNation has to say. They have been helping companies become more sustainable by helping employees become more sustainable with their pledging platform. Is there any advice, you’ve obviously seen quite a lot of companies now become or try to become and become environmental and do things, like, have you seen any campaigns and stuff that you’ve gone, wow, that’s absolutely amazing, that’s really pushed the way forward? I know I’m slightly putting on the spot here.
[5:43] Hermione: And, I mean, I see a lot, I do see a lot of different companies and how they talk about sustainability. From where I come from, it’s always the internal facing side, it’s the engagement side and how do they get their wider employee base excited by acting and sustainability. And to me, the wow factor there that really differentiates the campaigns that are super successful from those that, to be honest, in a lot of cases, or talk about doing it, talk about doing it, talk, but never quite have the time to actually get on and do it, is which happens all too often, is the ability to get green champions, people who, kind of let go of sustainability sometimes, the people who, for whom it’s not in their job arena, and giving some agency to often quite young, junior people who really care, they might be in a sales team, they might be an engineer, they might be in the finance team, but they got a real passion for the environment and for our planet. And sure, they’re not going to be the people necessarily to do the bigger jobs, our sustainability team is tasked with, like sorting out the supply chain, and changing the energy suppliers and installing more efficient equipment and all of that. That’s not their specialty, but what those people are really well placed to do, is get their colleagues on board and engage people.
[07:19] Hermione: And for us, yeah, the really successful campaigns are when sustainability managers, maybe give that, yeah, sure, okay, we’ll sign off and and let you go ahead with this DoNation or this pledge campaign. But you, the environmental champions run with that, and letting them, giving them the agency and the tools to do that can be amazing. And it can open so many more doors for the environmental team. So, an example actually, of like an outcome of that that, within Network Rail, we were talking about earlier, they ran a campaign, all of their employees, yeah, making their pledges. One of these employees was the director, one of the directors, and he pledged to use reusable water bottles. And in doing that, you know, he’s then more alert and aware of the water bottle used, he goes to one of their sites on the track and sees stacks of water bottles. And they’re giving out hundreds of thousands a day to employees all week, this is ludicrous. Why are we doing this? We need to change this. And so, he went then to the environment manager and said, look, we need to change this, I’m making a pledge, we’re going to get rid of plastic water bottles on our team. That something should been wanting to do for ages but hadn’t had the authority to do, so it can unlock doors, just getting people bought in on a personal leve
[8:48] Will: Yeah, I guess it’s just opening eyes, isn’t it? When you, when I say I’m going to accompany people, so what kind of skills have you got? And I’m like, I don’t think but all we do know, is anyone that kind of does what we do, you know, for anything as in you and I and Green Element is we just kind of look at things with the environmental eyes. So, rather than being specialists, we play, like the example you just given, he automatically walked in and went, why are we using all these water bottles?
[9:24] Hermione: Yeah and now notice them before. But with that, these lenses on.
[9:30] Will: Yeah, that’s cool. If our listeners want to get started and understand how to be more sustainable, what would you suggest that they do, with your heart of DoNation Obviously join DoNation.
[9:45] Hermione: Obviously, go to donation.com and create a campaign. But it depends where they’re coming from and what stage of the journey there are. I mean, I think the B Corp, you and I are both, well DoNation and Green Element are both B Corps and I’m a huge advocate of that and the environment. So, even if you’re, you don’t think as a company, you can become a B Corp right away going through the assessment, which is free, perhaps just starting off with the environmental section, if that’s what you’re interested in improving, going through those assessment questions will be a great way to highlight what you are not doing.
[10:26] Will: We have Adam Huttly of Red Inc share what they are doing, making the stationary business more sustainable.
[10:33] Adam: Okay, so, I suppose Red Inc is just an office supplies reseller, in its kind of raw state. I founded the company in 2008 and it was based on just three basic principles that I think we needed addressing in more detail. So, obviously, one was cost, that’s really important. You know, we have to be competitive, there’s sort of no getting away from the price conversation anymore. But it was how we dealt with that, we had to be transparent, and look at cost in an intelligent way, rather than a more of a sort of Cloak and Dagger style, traditional with our industry. So, that was really important. It was sort of these three basic principles that we just thought, if we can look at this and apply common sense to it, we can probably do a lot better. So, impact was our second point and by impact, I meant really environmental impact. We’re in a logistics industry, although we sell office supplies and print, we have a lot to do with impact. And we wanted to add value to our customers and we felt that having more knowledge and being experts in the environmental, sort of processes, we could actually assist customers. So, not just being sort of, you know, we sell stationery, end off, we became more consultative around that area as well.
[12:02] Adam: So, our goal is to reduce our environmental impact, and also to reduce that of our customers in this tiny sector that we deal with. And finally, it was to reduce human effort. So, you know, we get people are busy, we get office supplies is far from heady or top of the list of anyone’s agenda. So, we had to make a business model that worked for the customer, which meant that they had to, they could get in, get it done and get out. Yes, about hundred percent fulfillment, logistics being spot on and as many things as we could, just to make this really easy for them. So, there were the three basic principles that the company was founded on, really.
[12:43] Will: And so, if you could offer one piece of advice to our listeners, which could help them with their purpose, what would that be?
[12:51] Adam: Well, I suppose really doing the impact assessment on the B Corp. Because, you know, that is, that opens up a whole new world of information, that perhaps we didn’t know existed before we did it. And I would imagine there’s a lot of businesses, certainly SMEs that have no idea about how they should do policies, you know, equality and diversity and how you look at your carbon footprint, you know, it’s so in depth. And I think, if nothing else, even if you don’t become a B Corp, if they look through that assessment, it will open their eyes to see really what more they need to be doing and how much really needs to be done as running a small business.
[13:29] Will: We also have Tom Greenwood of Whole Grain Digital share his big learning from attending a B Corp retreat. So, is there any advice or learning that you’d like to share with everyone listening to this podcast?
[13:42] Tom: Yeah, I think one of the things for me this year that I’m thinking about a lot and actually came from this year’s B Corp retreat with, was, is this sort of idea of looking beyond the horizon. I think we can all be very, sort of, blinked in our day to day work, that we’ve got our goals, that we know what our businesses trying to achieve, and it’s very much like, we just need to get there. But actually, whether we’re talking about sustainability or talking about life, or business in general, I think there’s a real value to try and stop ourselves every now and then saying, okay, well, that might be my goal for the next year or two years, or whatever it is. But what’s beyond that, you know, what might be 10 years ahead and you don’t have to plan it, necessarily, but just having that thought process of what is it and I think, in the context of sustainability, right now, I think we’re at a critical time in history where we really all need to be doing this, because we are, sort of, we are fast running out of time on climate change. And I think where we’re all head down focusing on the next quarter, or the next 12 months or whatever, in our businesses, we lose sight of the big picture. And the big picture is that, we need to be reducing emissions a lot faster than we are. And I think when you only look at the next 12 months, or the next 6 months, you can think you’re doing really well.
[15:15] Tom: But when you look 10 years ahead, and you think, oh, crikey, we need to be, you know, let’s say 10 years ahead, we need to be sort of zero 15:21 [inaudible]. Then suddenly, it changes something in your mind, where you’re thinking, well, all right, let’s just take a step back and really brainstorm, like, could we do things radically different? And I think that’s the thing is, when you look on the horizon, you’re sort of forcing yourself, uncomfortably, just to try and actually tear up your own plans and actually think well, could we come up with completely new ideas? Can we do things completely differently? And I’m not saying that’s easy and I’m not saying that those ideas are easy to implement. But I think at least going through that exercise means that you’re sort of on that journey of trying to get to the real goal, which is a genuine, sustainable, not just a genuinely sustainable business, but be a part of a genuinely sustainable society, rather than just focusing on your own short term goals, which might be fantastic, but they don’t necessarily lead to where you’re meant to be in 10, 20 years’ time.
[16:28] Will: Absolutely, brilliant. That was Tom Greenwood, and they are a WordPress Sustainable Web Design agency. It’s a fascinating time to be running a business, you’ve got so much stuff that’s going on in the world, you don’t really have the chance to sit back and watch. You want to be a part of it. You want to embrace the future. You’ve just listened to some fantastic individuals and by no means, are they the best. And that’s no disrespect to them but there are so many fantastic individuals and we’ve been interviewing a number of them on our podcast. They are all striving for a better future. We’re all striving and it’s just really exciting to be a part of it, and to be able to be called a B Corp. Okay, so that’s it for this episode of the Green Element Podcast, I’m Will Richardson, see on the next episode. Thank you.
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