Global Finance | 26 April 2023
How B Corps are building a community culture to help all businesses
Coutts CEO, Peter Flavel, reflects on recent discussions with fellow B Corp CEOs and how an inclusive culture can help build greater change in businesses and markets.
Last month I was fortunate enough sit down for dinner with a number of CEOs and business founders from a range of sectors and industries. One of the things we had in common was our experiences as B Corps, so it was a real pleasure to share some stories around the table.
One thread that came through from our discussion was the sense of community and support. Feeling that in an amiable after-dinner conversation is one thing but what I found was a very real working culture for improvement – defining best practice, providing self-scrutiny and discovering more efficient processes for profit with purpose.
This is so important because while B Corp certification provides a framework for that discussion and improvement, the community culture that comes from that can benefit all businesses. At Coutts, we try to be proactive in supporting B Corps and businesses wanting to become B Corps. However, we never want to be seen as giving top-down advice simply because we are a B Corp ourselves.
I believe it’s crucial that any consultancy or experiences we’re able to share around environmental, social and governance concerns is for all businesses and individuals. Of course, we’re still advocates for B Corp certification but knowing how you can put change into practice is what matters. Ultimately, the climate doesn’t care if you’re a B Corp – we’re all interested parties in creating a sustainable future.
But that is also why I am passionate when speaking about B Corp with any person or business that is looking to work for purpose as well as profit – because it is such a good way to achieve both. During my discussion with the B Corp leaders and founders, we identified a number of commercial benefits to being a B Corp –
- A lower cost of capital
- A greater network of likeminded businesses and incentivised investors
- Better relations and positive positioning with clients, customer bases and markets
- Better placement ahead of forthcoming laws and commitments, particularly around corporate governance and the transition to net zero carbon emissions.
Today, more and more businesses are realising how B Corp can help them become more sustainable as well as grow. The UK now has the second greatest number of B Corps in the world, while London boasts the greatest global concentration of B Corps. Currently, for every registered B Corp, 20 non-B Corp companies are self-auditing via the online B Lab Impact Assessment (BIA).
We’re learning too. Last month we hosted four female B Corp leaders for a round table discussion about gender equality in business and their own respective B Corp journeys. It was a fascinating event covering everything from diversity surveys to the global economic impact of women in poverty. Hearing the different perspectives and experiences certainly gave me a better understanding of the range of challenges all businesses continue to face.
As a partner to our clients and as a B Corp, we need to be listening more than talking. I hope B Corp can help bring about the changes we need as businesses to protect the world but those changes need to come through dialogues and mutual learnings. That’s why the culture of community is so important – and why it will never be limited to whether you’re a B Corp or not, because this affects us all.
As I said, we’re here to consult and we’re here to listen too, so please get in touch and let us know your thoughts and how we might be able to help.