With a global pandemic, political unrest in many countries and environmental disasters, 2020 has been a challenging year. The race for bigger, faster and relentless business growth combined with unsustainable consumption levels has had massive negative consequences on many aspects of our lives. If this year has taught us anything, it is that we need to be kinder to our surroundings and planet. Leaders that have excelled during this time are those that have been able to connect with their workforce on a human level. What many businesses have had to learn this year as part of a string of global crises, is at the centre of every B Corp’s DNA.
We didn’t know that our certification would get us ahead of the game during a global pandemic, but it did, and it did so using what we learnt in our process to becoming a B Corp and putting our people first.
In a blog article a year ago I wrote that the 17th of September – the day of our official B Corp certification – was the best day of my career. A year later and having had the pleasure to carry this very reputable badge of honour, I can say that I’ve had many more great days since.
It took us almost three years, and a lot of soul-searching, self-reflection and determination, until we became the 226th B Corp in the UK. We didn’t stop there and certified our entire global group of companies – from Nigeria to the Solomon Islands, the Netherlands to Mongolia, Kenya to Pakistan. We came in with the second highest B Impact Assessment score ever awarded in the UK B Corp community. So, not only did we have high hopes for this certification, but we have now also set high expectations to improve our own score in future.
In 2017, we set ourselves an objective of truly becoming a purpose-driven company. We embarked upon a set of ambitious improvements in our mission, culture, values, corporate governance, internal controls, risk management, technology, workplace diversity and inclusion, employee engagement and environmental practices – a huge list that meant we really had to roll up our sleeves and plough through, always with the goal in mind to becoming a better company.
Today, and as I look back at the various initiatives that arose from our newly enforced commitment to doing better, to transforming lives and to doing so in a socially, environmentally and financially positive way, I can say that our B Corp certification was just the very first of many great days, full of purpose, perseverance and effective partnerships.
This past year, we’ve made great progress against our corporate strategy, and set up important bodies, networks and mechanisms that allow our company and staff to discuss topics that matter and commit to actions across a variety of different areas, such as diversity and inclusion, gender equality, staff participation and environmental policies – to name just a few. We’ve become an active player in the global B Corp community and are playing our part in a number of important initiatives, such as committing to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2025.
To measure and report the impact of our company, in addition to the B Impact Assessment, I’m delighted to announce we will also shortly launch our use of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Action Manager tool. SDG Action Manager is designed to enable meaningful business action through dynamic self-assessment, benchmarking, and improvement against each of the SDGs. Our contribution to the SDGs, and our SDG Action Manager scores, will be published in the next couple of months in ASI’s first ever Annual Impact Report.
We have made a short video with a summary of our first year as a B Corp, which you can watch here or further below.
CEO of Adam Smith International