In the first of this three part series written for Better Brands magazine, Leap founder and B Corp Ambassador Matt Hocking shares his reasons for pursuing B Corp certification.
I set Leap up in 2004 because I knew in my heart that there was a better way to design.
I’d been doing it for the previous few years working at The Eden Project here in Cornwall, and I had a lot of corporate experience from before that. Distilling that in to good design, with the environment in mind, was how and why Leap was set up.
During my time at Eden, we watched different agencies come in and propose to do work, and when I looked at those agencies I saw that they had fantastic work, but that they seemed to only go green when a client was green. My thought was, why not just say, “all work is green”, and as a designer just challenge our clients. These last fifteen years have really been about challenging the norm around design, and being inquisitive – our mission is to redefine design to incorporate people, planet and profit. Leap’s values are thoughtfulness, curiosity, sustainability and optimism; it’s a positive way to address how companies can activate their own work and needs in the creative sector, to do better for people and planet.
We were already confident that we were doing good, but had never found a system that encapsulated that goodness or shared it until I discovered B Corp.
At Leap we’re proud of our attention to detail and our thoughtfulness over every pixel being powered by renewable energy, every pixel being carbon neutral, every piece of paper recycled or a minimum of FSC certified; knowing where our own work comes from, and lobbying our own supply chain to be better and to see the opportunities.
We’ve always worked like this, but within this has always been the need to authenticate Leap, this constant query from people of “what makes you green?” We’ve done ISO 14001, BSA555, we’ve done Investors in People, and they’re very good for certain businesses, but they all felt a little bit like tokenisms. We learnt about environmental management systems, sure, but is it right for a design team of a handful of people to be doing such rigorous environmental management systems certification? And then there were and are other marks and brands out there which you can pay for, to have your business audited and certified, and again I’m not dismissing or saying anything bad about those schemes, but they felt like it was just a contract of, “are you doing this?” and giving them some money. I needed something that really sifted through our business. B Corp was always this thing that, once I found it in 2008, I thought “wow, this is looking at all of the things that I’m already doing, but it’s really sifting for the golden nuggets and the truth behind our organization.” Once we achieved certification as a B Corp in 2017, it was like a cold shower on a really hot day, it just felt so right for the business.
Certification put us into an ever-improving cycle and working framework.
It’s called the Business Impact Assessment, but really it should be the Business Impact Tool, because it is a tool for all of us, whether we are B Corps or not, to learn about our businesses, continually improve our businesses, and continually improve our engagement with people, planet, our customers, our stakeholders, and our communities. For us, becoming a B Corp has been an integral and an inspirational change point in the business. And in some ways, and I say this quite a lot in conversations, it’s helped us to grow up; we’re designers so we’re good at design but maybe the paperwork and things like that, we’re a little bit less good at. This makes us much more accountable to ourselves, even besides the people and planet. It’s prompted us to do things the right way – keeping information all in one easily accessible place, enhancing policies to make us a better business, to help us retain the people we have, who we really, really, value.
In the next article in this series (scheduled for late September, following the publication of the next issue of Better Brands magazine), Matt will be discussing the positive impacts to people, planet and purpose that being a B Corp brings to a business.