B Corp Month 2024: Our model for sustainable brands

Our model for moving forward together

It’s March which means it is B Corp Month, a month-long campaign to promote and celebrate the benefits of B Corp certification. We are so proud to have invested in 7 certified brands and to have welcomed The Thinking Traveller and Bloom & Wild to the community this year.

Moving forward together, is the theme of this year’s B Corp Month. B Corp certification isn’t a destination, it’s an invitation to join the journey to better business. It is a commitment to continually improve. This is why we are proud to be certified B Corp and invest in B Corps. We don’t require our investment brands to certify, but we certainly advocate the B Impact Assessment as a great tool to shape sustainability strategies.

Over the last year, we have been developing our best practice model for sustainable businesses. In the spirit of moving forward together, we wanted to share it with you. This is built out of our own sustainability journey, speaking to many brands, and the huge wealth of knowledge gained from B Corp certification and our network of sustainability experts.

The goal of this model is not to say what makes a sustainable business, but how you can shape your operations and processes to move forward and become a sustainable brand legend.

People and planet embedded into a data-led growth strategy.
Every business is reliant on the planet and people, so the first step will always be acknowledging this and building it into your business growth plan. Collect data to understand what you’re impacting and then set targets to improve with structured progress reviews. Focus on data and actions that are material to your business model. Really think about your business purpose and how you can make change meaningful. You can see the kind of data we collect in our Sustainable Investment reports.

Commit to best practice.
With greenwashing, regulation, and contradictory information online, having your commitments verified by experts, your strategy externally reviewed, setting science-based targets, or using a certification like B Corp is essential. Many brands we know set ambitious Net Zero targets a few years ago only to have to change or remove them entirely after it was realised that they hadn’t backed them up with robust plans. A lack of expertise guiding marketing teams on how to talk about sustainability is the root of most greenwashing. We have a great network of experts, get in touch and we can guide you to the best help.

Integrate throughout operations.
Even the smallest business can spread responsibility and having regular reporting from every department. If you have a sustainability manager, make sure they have direct access to the leadership team and every part of the business. Turn targets into multi-team projects or create a committee with people from across the business to embed sustainability into culture. Not only will this foster engagement and new ideas, it also gives people a purpose beyond their roles. We held a sustainability roundtable for our portfolio on this topic, read our insights here.

Futureproof your strategy.
Short-termism is easy, but if you want your company to be a brand legend that is still thriving in 10 years or even 20 years you need assess future climate, regulatory and people risks and build that into your planning. Analysis of your operations and supply chain for risks and opportunities is hugely valuable and can feed into disaster and business continuity plans to ensure you’re ready. All of our partner brands have one of these plans. As your business grows you will also face increased regulation, with large businesses required to report on areas such as emissions, gender pay gap and if operating in the EU, supply chain responsibility and material imports. You can read an overview of regulations by region here

Clear and open communications.
Taking your team and customers on your sustainability journey can be hugely valuable, engendering brand trust and appealing to the best talent who seek out the best cultures to work for. Many brands are nervous of greenwashing, and that’s understandable, but being transparent about the good and the bad will help you avoid this and give you authenticity. Make sure that everyone in your business, especially marketing, are regularly updated and offered training and development opportunities. Certifications and recognised standards, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, Soil Association Organic, and of course B Corp, give easy markers for customers in the know or are a great content opportunity to educate customers about the good you are doing.

The above is not extensive, but we think these are fundamental processes for helping businesses move forward. The B Corp certification process will take your business through all of these and help your business be better for people and the planet. It can also lead to faster growth. If you’re thinking about getting certified or unsure if it’s right for your business, we’re always happy to share our experiences, get in touch.