Rich Kenny | Sept. 5, 2022, 2:03 p.m.
Another important strand of Interact’s sustainability strategy has been achieved this month with the confirmation of Interact as a Pending B Corp. This builds on our existing sustainability goals which include our support for UN Sustainable Goals announced in early 2022.
B Corps are companies verified by the certification body B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Certification is executed through a rigorous on-going review process that measures the company’s entire social and environmental performance.
At Interact, we felt that B Lab’s social and environmental standards aligned with the values and aspirations we hold as a sustainable technology business. The B Impact Assessment was considered to be a valuable tool to help us identify improvements to our business.
‘B Corp is a fantastic resource to give an overall snapshot of sustainability performance. It is not the only metric we use to measure ourselves, but, as the most comprehensive and wide-ranging, it is a great way of identifying areas of weakness as well as strength.’ Astrid Wynne Rogers, Techbuyer UK Sustainability Lead
Working towards B Corp Certification will enable us to pursue our social mission, as we look to scale the business. The company can grow and develop whilst, at the same time, be held to a socially responsible standard.
Limitations to becoming a B Corp include the lengthy and complex assessment process that must be completed. Additionally, there are associated costs with making the necessary changes to company policies and practices. However, we feel there are key benefits to undertaking such a robust assessment of Interact’s social and environmental impact, including:
Firstly, the learnings from the assessment process have been myriad and entirely positive for an innovative tech start-up. Once embedded into the business, the policies and practices put in place will only benefit ys as our business scales up.
Secondly, we feel that becoming a B Corp will lead to greater levels of commitment and motivation amongst employees as well as higher levels of innovation. This innovation benefit is crucial to the growth of Interact and our commitment to supporting cutting-edge research.
Thirdly, our commitment to B Corp Certification will ensure that we continue to attract and retain the very best team members as we grow.
As a start-up we are eligible to apply for Pending B Corp status, designed to ensure start-ups build the right social and environmental policies and practices into the business before they scale up.
The first stage in our B Corp journey was to incorporate stakeholder governance into our legal structure so that we were legally accountable to our workers, customers, the environment and our community.
The next stage was to complete and submit the comprehensive B Impact Assessment (BIA) digital tool to measure Interact’s policies and practices against a set of social and environmental standards across the following areas: governance, environment, workers, customers and community.
One significant ongoing benefit for Interact is that the BIA tool allows us to manage and compare its performance to other B Corps and to improve business activities across the five key areas, to maintain the highest of standards.
Sample questions include: ‘What % of management is from underrepresented populations?’ and ‘Does your company monitor and record its universal waste production?’
The final – and crucial – step towards becoming a Pending B Corp was to change our Articles of Association to legally require the business to create value for all our stakeholders, not just our shareholders. After conducting an extensive stakeholder identification review, we created an engagement strategy and legally formalised our commitments.
Companies only receive a verified score from B Lab following submission of the updated assessment after a full year of operations. To achieve a full B Corp certification, an organisation must achieve a score above 80 on verification by B Lab. It was to our delight that, after our initial digital assessment based on our existing practises, Interact achieved an impressive 90.3 points.
Although we’ve set the bar high, we have an ambitious target of 100+ points by the time we apply for full B Corp status next year. The rigorous process necessary to become a Certified B Corp supports our ambition to make continuous improvements on our sustainability goals. We have already identified several areas of improvement, such as a policy to offer paid time off for community service.
After another full year of trade, the updated assessment report on Interact’s implemented practices will be submitted to be reviewed and verified by B Lab. At the end of this review process, if the score is above 80, full B Corp status will be granted.
The B Corp journey does not end there. Certified B Corps must update their impact assessment and verify their updated score every three years, or after a Change of Control or Initial Public Offering in order to maintain certification.
Working towards B Corp certification has helped us identify and implement a range of improvements we otherwise may not have considered. It might not be a perfect process, but we are confident it has already helped ensure we focus on being a more sustainable and impactful business. Interact will continue our journey, in the words of B Lab, ‘to balance profit and purpose’ and to help create a better world.