Thinking of becoming a B Corp?

Read our feature on the rise of B Corps in Australia here.

Julie Mathers, founder and CEO of Flora & Fauna

Julie Mathers, founder and CEO of Flora & Fauna

When and why did you decide to become a B Corp?

I decided in early 2017. We’ve always been a purpose-driven business and I wanted to do more and be supported by a broader community with the same vision. If there are more of you heading in the same direction, it’s far more powerful. 

What was the application process like? 

In-depth, which is great, in my opinion. It’s not a quick process and it certainly isn’t a ‘ticking the box’ exercise. You need to be prepared to dig deep into your business and be able to justify what you’ve done. It doesn’t stop with becoming a B Corp, that’s actually just the start. We have done so much more since becoming a B Corp, including offsetting our carbon and decreasing the amount of waste we produce radically.

How has being a B Corp impacted your business? 

It’s helped us define our purpose and what we’re doing and that’s the most important piece. It’s the philosophy of what it stands for, which is to be a better business. That is through everything we do. 

Any tips for other businesses thinking about becoming a B Corp? 

Go to the B Corp website and complete the survey. I found that the most interesting piece as it helped me set our strategy. Whether you become a B Corp or not, you’ll get a huge amount from the process. Also, go to events and talk to other B Corps.

It seems like B Corp is having a moment right now. Why do you think that is? 

It is [well known] in business, but people are still not that familiar with what it is, so we still have lots of work to do so that’s it is more commonplace and easily recognised. However, in the business world, you see more businesses are becoming B Corp-certified, like Toms. When large businesses become certified, people sit up. That, combined with the fact people want more transparency with who they shop, bank and fly with, means there is a demand for B Corp businesses.

Dean Jones, co-founder and CEO of GlamCorner

Dean Jones (R), co-founder and CEO of GlamCorner

When did you first hear about B Corp?

I think it must have been from [LA-based fashion brand] Reformation. We saw they were a B Corp, and we really loved how they tied it to their product. When you shop on their website, they tell you ‘this is the amount of waste you’re keeping from going to landfill’, ‘this is the amount of water you’re preventing from being wasted’, ‘this is the amount of your carbon footprint you’re reducing’. 

The idea that you’re not just trying to be the best in the world, but the best for the world resonated with us. That’s one of the key slogans of B Corp. 

When did GlamCorner become a certified B Corp? 

We got certified in January 2018. We spent about six months going through the application process. The whole purpose behind doing it was to make sure we could sew into the company’s DNA a value that was important to us, which was impact. Not just our impact on the environment, but our impact on all the people in our business, from our customers to our employees. 

Did you have to make any changes to your business? 

We did change some things along the way to being certified. We were going to do these things anyway, but becoming a B Corp just made them a priority.

One of them was reducing our waste. Every business is responsible for producing some amount of waste, and some of it is more avoidable than others. An obvious one for us was our return satchels, which are sent out with every rental. We found that the strongest, most durable capsule was a plastic capsule, but the more our business grew, the more this waste built up. 

We thought there had to be a better way, so we prioritised setting up a partnership with TerraCycle. They’re a US business that collects ‘hard-to-recycle’ waste like plastic and turns it into more durable things like furniture. We’re now TerraCycle’s largest recycler of plastic packaging in Australia. We give them more waste than Nespresso. 

How have you communicated your B Corp status to customers? 

You want to make sure when you introduce the topic to customers that you do so in a meaningful way. It’s been a progressive rollout for us. When we got certified, we announced it to our entire customer database and sent out an email explaining what it is and why it’s important to us. We include a B Corp logo on every garment tag, and we’re in the middle of integrating more B Corp messaging on our packaging.

Andy Fallshaw, founding designer and CEO of Bellroy

Andy Fallshaw, co-founder and CEO of Bellroy

When did you become a B Corp?

We were first certified in August 2015, and have maintained our certification since.

Why was this something interested you?

We are the generation that grew up surrounded by a broken business paradigm. The idea that a business’ sole purpose is to maximise shareholder returns now seems absurd to us – with that fallacy exposed through the collapse of Enron and so many other self-serving business cultures.

But how does a business balance its varied goals and make sure that a drive for profit doesn’t drown out the goals that serve beyond ourselves? We felt like the B Corp structure was an excellent way to do this. And having external eyes making sure we’re delivering on our promises is a bonus.

What was the B Corp application process like?

Quite fun actually! We were already doing loads of ‘for-purpose’ projects with Bellroy, which meant we had a strong base to start from. But there were several quite obvious things that we’d never got around to, like defining our mission clearly. By stepping through the process, and clarifying our goals and values at each stage, we felt a fun sense of progress.

What is it like being a B Corp?

The B Corp structure is less prescriptive than some other frameworks and recognises many different approaches, so you get to steer your own path towards purposeful business. We research and build our own mission, our own environmental goals, our own philanthropic activities. The B Corp structure checks that we’re purposeful and deliberate in what we plan, and that we’re following through with concrete actions.

There’s also quite an active B Corp community, so there’s never a shortage of inspiring brands to learn from and be inspired by, and a mutual trust that means the sharing flows freely.

Any tips for other businesses thinking about becoming a B Corp? 

If you’re only doing it to help your business, it probably won’t work out for you. But if you genuinely want to help the world be a better place, it can bring a great cadence to how you do that.

We approached the checklist as a source of potential projects to consider, and only pursued the things that aligned with our own value system. So we keep our focus on global over local, on impact over earnestness, and the structure means we can still be recognised as a ‘for-purpose’ business.

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