When The Wisdom Council was founded by CEO Anna Lane, it set out with a social purpose, which is still at the heart of all we do today. We believe everyone should have the opportunity of a secure financial future, that’s why we strive to make financial products and services fairer and more accessible to all. With that in mind, it felt only natural that we should look to strive for B-Corp accreditation – the global community of business, which vow to put people and planet on an even keel with profits.
What is the process to becoming B-Corp?
For anyone unfamiliar with the process – companies aspiring to apply for B-Corp accreditation need to complete an assessment and gain a score of 80+ points to submit. Categories in the assessment cover governance, workers, communities, environment and customers.
There are over 150 questions to complete, and it takes time to think about each one. One thing that has been a struggle during our application process, is carving out the time to dig into the inner workings of the business to find the answers needed. As a team of just 10 we weren’t fortunate enough to have a HR or Operations team that could handle the application, who might have had most of the answers to hand. My first recommendation for anyone embarking on this process is to not underestimate the time and resource it will take to complete the application.
We’re now ready to submit our application and it will be reviewed in due course by B-Lab – the arbiters of B-Corp accreditation. Getting 80+ points doesn’t guarantee accreditation, and there’s a lot of work still to do to ensure we sufficiently prove the actions we’ve committed to in the application.
What came easily to us?
As a female-founded, female-run business, with a clear social purpose, there have been parts of the B-Corp application process that have felt very easy. We scored highly in the governance and workers sections. Ensuring transparency through job descriptions, an organisational chart, management meetings, regular appraisals and end-of-quarter financial reporting, all seem second nature to us as a business, but brought in a high score for the governance section of the assessment.
We’re also fortunate to pay all our staff above the minimum wage and living wage, which gave our points a boost. Our Board is majority women, as is our management tier – both of which gave us a high score straight off the bat. As a global accreditation process, there are benefits of applying as a UK based company. The provision of universal healthcare, statutory requirements around maternity and paternity leave, as well as pensions put UK companies at a definite advantage over their American counterparts.
Where we faced more difficulties
The B-Corp assessment does tailor questions based on previous answers, but it can also feel quite rigid at times. As a company that doesn’t employ hourly staff, for example, we lost points simply because we had to tick N/A to those questions, rather than there being any bonus for not needing hourly staff – surely a more socially responsible way to work is giving people permanent contracts?
Another area that felt ill-equipped to deal with the many ways businesses work nowadays, was the set of questions that asked about determining staff and suppliers as local. These questions felt like they were rooted in businesses that may have factories or warehouses, not so, nimble companies that work in big cities. While we can state that some of our suppliers are local, as a business operating in London, we would see it being of benefit if we hired suppliers based around the country – driving prosperity in other areas, not just the South East.
The area that we scored least well in was the consumers sector (albeit that’s a very low-weighted section overall). As an insight agency, we’re a step removed from the end customers that our clients serve. While we put ‘the customer’ at the heart of everything we do, our B2B clients have different needs and relationships than businesses have with their direct-to-consumer customers. For example, we don’t offer warranties, but we take very seriously whether a client chooses to work with us again in the future or not.
These are just some of the positives and negatives that we have found as a small company aspiring to be part of the future of better business. Other organisations will differ in their process to accreditation. We’re still some months away from knowing if our application will be approved, but we hope that our learnings may encourage some of you to take the steps towards joining the ever-growing community of B-Corporations.