What does being a B Corp mean? - Teals

What does being a B Corp mean?

Teals - B Corp

Author: Ash Sinfield

Wow, so much goodwill coming back over the last week since we announced our B Corp certification – thank you everyone! There’s been lots of curiosity too, about the process and also what it means to us personally, so here’s a one-off ‘deeper dive.’

You may have noticed some of the companies you (and we!) most love on our shelves sporting B logos – Origin, Beco, Bold Bean Co, Rude Health, Belazu (and yes, now us!) – to name a few. ‘B Corp’ is a global movement to use business as a force for good. When you become certified, it means you have legally committed to work in support of all stakeholders: guests, workers, suppliers, communities, landlords and the environment – not just shareholders. It was started by three co-founders of AND1, one of the early poster-children for what a socially responsible company looked like. They were ahead of their time in the 90s, offering great benefits, shared ownership, giving 5% of profits to charity, working with overseas suppliers to ensure worker health, fair wages and professional development. They had on-site basketball courts and on-site yoga classes before it became mainstream to offer that type of perk. Yet when they sold the company in 2005, all of the company’s pre-existing commitments to its employees, overseas workers and the local community were instantly stripped away. They were devastated and decided to create a system to bake in social and environmental good to business, to make it harder to undermine in the future. B Corp was born, and the first company was certified in 2007.

What does being a B Corp mean?

It is really hard to meet the standards required but since the start, 8000 companies across 91 countries have managed to do so. Among them, some genuine pathfinders such as Patagonia, whose mission has recently evolved to ‘we’re in business to save our home planet’.

Patagonia

It’s easy to let words such as ‘stringent standards’ and ‘rigorous testing’ roll off the tongue when we talk about the process of certification – but underneath those words sat challenges to our working practice that made us look in the mirror and remind ourselves what – and who – we really wanted to be as a company.

How we want to look after and reward our team? What level of commitment we want to make to our community? What is our energy usage? Our water usage? Our commitment to sourcing products and to the soil? How transparent are we in our activities? Are we watching – really properly watching – our recycling practices? And, possibly most important of all – are we willing to make improvements all the time? Going through the 12 month process of B Corp certification, having to research and evidence our responses to more than 200 questions about how we run Teals, and how we consider the interests of all our stakeholders, has been both demanding and rewarding. We’re not perfect.

Teals Somerset - Farm Shop & Restaurant
B Corp Vegetables
Teals Somerset - Local Produce

We achieved a score of over 90 (high for a small business – you can see the breakdown of our score here). In some areas we are already doing great – in particular, our commitment to local supply and direct relationships with farmers, makers and producers we work with. Our campaign to help locals swap out supermarket milk for better quality Holy Cow refills, for example, has been a successful way to add our support to one brilliant local farmer. What we are left with, along with a great sense of pride, is inspiration. We are inspired by all the different ways the companies we now stand alongside on this B Corp journey take on their own challenges. For some it is social responsibility, for others, environmental activism.

We – being young at heart and maybe a little giddy with it – want to do it all! We’d love your help. If you have ideas for what we could do more of, or improve on, please share them with us. We’re always open to feedback – and finding ideas that stem from B Corp can make a genuine difference in our little part of the world. We’re ambitious to make a contribution. Come find us when you are next here, or reach us by email on: hello@teals.co.uk

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