6, June 2023
We're a B Corp! But What is a B Corp?
We’re shouting it from the treetops: we just became a B Corp! But what does ‘B Corp’ mean? We asked our Sustainability Director, Laura Ford, to share her expertise and wisdom on the subject. This huge achievement has been a team effort, but Laura has been at the helm.
Congratulations, Laura! How do you feel about Faith In Nature becoming a B Corp?
Elated! It’s a massive achievement and we’re all really proud.
For the uninitiated, what is a B Corp?
B Corps are ‘companies verified by B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.’ Under corporate law in the UK, the purpose of a business is to make money. The B Corp movement introduces additional purpose to the running of a business: people and planet in addition to profit. It’s a blueprint for using business as a force for good, a model which redefines the role of business within our economic system. It enables businesses to lead the way in making this shift towards a fairer and more regenerative society. B Corp is run by B Lab, a network of non-profits around the world. B Lab UK is a charity that started in 2015.
So, it’s not just about being sustainable / eco-friendly?
No. B Corp’s got a reputation for being an eco certification, but it actually covers five key areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. You’re asked questions around everything from your indoor air quality to the employment opportunities you present in low-income areas. It looks at every facet of how you do business. It incentivises those actions which have a positive impact on every businesses’ key stakeholders: workers, communities, customers and the planet.
The application process for B Corp is known for being very rigorous – can you tell us a bit more about that?
Firstly, you submit a Business Impact Assessment (BIA). There are 200 available points across a huge number of questions, covering the five key areas – and you have to be ready to provide evidence for every single answer. You have a review call, where they quiz you on that evidence. When we submitted our assessment, there was a six month wait – that’s how sought-after B Corp is!
The fact we appointed Nature as a director of our board last year must have stood us in good stead…
Well, because we were the first company in the world to appoint Nature to our board, it’s not actually something that’s in the B Corp criteria. Nature on the Board reinterpreted corporate law in the UK; it transformed what was possible, but because it’s so new, it’s not recognised by B Corp – yet! We did get a small number of points for having an expert stakeholder representative on our board, but not enough to demonstrate the extent of what we did by giving Nature a voice and a vote.
Why does it mean so much to Faith n Nature to become a B Corp?
It’s so aligned with our mission: we’re not just a toiletries company, we want to make it easy for everyone to make better environmental choices every day. We need to be a successful business in order to meet those goals, but that’s secondary to our overall mission. B Corp are moving the business model away from being purely about money and towards delivering on a social and environmental purpose. That’s why it fits in so well with our model.
It was natural for us to apply, then (pardon the pun)…
Faith In Nature has instinctively made really good decisions to reduce our impact on the environment since Rivka started the business in the seventies. We’ve been using renewable energy for years and introduced recycled bottles in 1999. We would have continued doing things like that indefinitely, but the landscape around us has changed. The climate crisis has deepened; consumers are better-informed and (rightly) want businesses to be more responsible, and we need to be more accountable. There are so many eco certifications out there, but they often only look at one element of your operations. B Corp is so thorough, it runs through everything we do, which helps us to stay accountable and keep pioneering new ideas.
Now we’re accredited, is that it?
No. Certification is for three years, so we’ll recertify in 2026. We’ll resubmit, providing new evidence for the most recent financial year. We’ll need to show improvements over time; we can’t just say ‘yes, we still tick the same boxes we did in 2023’.
You’ve worked with other companies on B Corp – was there anything different or surprising about working with Faith In Nature?
Faith In Nature is a manufacturer of products, which means that we have the potential for far greater impact on the environment and communities than say, a company selling services, and we needed to demonstrate what we do to mitigate that.
We’ve got a value chain, including a large number of suppliers. Although we’re not responsible for our suppliers’ social and environmental footprints, B Lab want to see that we know enough about them to be able to say ‘yes, they’re ethical’, or ‘no, but we’re working on it’. We’re responsible for ingredients, our manufacturing process, distribution, usage, how much of our packaging is recycled, the whole life of the product we make. And we should be, but it means our breadth of responsibility is much broader than a business that is not making a physical product. It’s a huge responsibility and we take it very seriously.
Now that we’re a B Corp, what’s next for Faith In Nature?
From a sustainability perspective, we’re straight on to the next thing: acting on our Scope 3 carbon footprint calculation. We’ve completed our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions calculations and made a climate contribution to offset these emissions to become Carbon Balanced with World Land Trust. We’re completing our Scope 3 carbon emissions calculations now and once they're ready, we’ll be using those figures to create Science Based Targets for our path to net zero emissions.