In this second part of a three part series about the benefits of being a B Corp, Leap founder and B Corp Ambassador Matt Hocking discusses the positive impacts to people, planet and purpose that it can bring to a business.
Being a B Corp helps us to attract brilliant talent.
Everybody that comes to us is either in a conversation around “I see you’re a B Corp and I would love to work for a B Corp,” or they’re saying “I want purpose in my life.” When we recently advertised to fill a new design role we asked interviewees why Leap (for some of them they were looking to move from London to Cornwall) and the majority of them replied that they understood that the wage wouldn’t be equivalent to London, but that they wanted to make sure that everything that they did was more purposeful. One of the things that I learned when I was at Eden was that I got such a higher level of enjoyment and sense of wellbeing designing at a leaner, more environmental level than when I was designing for these big global corporates. In short, I knew that I was contributing my skills to making a difference.
One of the biggest things that we’ve seen since becoming a B Corp is that very quickly, a new breed of client was approaching us and they were purpose-led businesses.
I always struggle with the term “purpose”, because don’t all businesses have a purpose? But if we look at purpose then Leap has always had that purpose of redefining design for people, planet and profit. For us, what we’ve found is that in the early days of Leap, and probably for half of its lifetime, we had many organisations approach us from the charitable sector who would say, “we love the work that you do. We don’t have much money, but we’d like to work with you,” so Leap ended up in a funding cycle for a lot of our clients. What we’re finding now though with the B Corp community, which is for-profit organisations, is that they value skills, people, and profit at a much better level. Profit shouldn’t be a dirty word, it should be something that’s considered in balance with people and planet. More profit means more changemaking. If you look at a business like Patagonia and see the level of changemaking that they do with their huge turnover. We’re finding that these sorts of businesses will invest and there’s no question about that investment. They understand that we are the right supplier for them, in this case for graphic and web design, and they want that as part of their supply chain. That’s not to say that all of our clients didn’t value us in the past, but now that 50% of our business now comes from within the B Corp community around the world, it’s more a conversation about getting to know each other – which is as it should be. Business should be about the relationship and asking if we’re going to be able to work together to reach the same aims, and those aims have gone from just making money to having people, planet and profit in balance.
Our working relationship with Don’t Cry Wolf is a perfect example. They’ve been a B Corp for less than a year now, but they made a commitment that in their first year of trading they wanted to act like a B Corp, and have those values. One of the things that John and Sarah did was to create a B Corp supply chain. They reached out to different organisations that could help them do their accounting or their design and so on, and that’s how we formed a relationship that, once we met, the common ground was so good that actually we’ve helped each other to reach new markets.
Quite a lot of the businesses that approach us are already people and planet aligned in some way, but we also love working with those that aren’t so that we have the opportunity to show them what is possible.
There’s the occasional one that’s seen a piece of work and come to us off the back of that, and naturally they’ll get a green outcome (web or print) anyway. Within procurement and CSR, there now seems to be much more of an awareness about why businesses are choosing these triple bottom line organisations. In the four years that we’ve been a B Corp, when I go back to some of the clients that we worked with helping on verification towards certification, they’re finding that they’re getting a whole load of new contacts from businesses on a CSR level and that their businesses are definitely changing from it, for the better.
Location doesn’t seem to be a barrier within the B Corp community.
Sometimes when we’ve been asked to quote on projects by other agencies or businesses and explained that we’re in Cornwall (we do have a base in London but it’s not our headquarters) we sometimes hear ‘ooh, that’s quite a long way away”. It’s quite interesting because we work all over the world for clients and we always have, from Vancouver to the Sinai Dessert and from Lapland to New York, and for those values based clients our location has never been a problem. We’ve got something that they need and we do it in a way that they like because it’s balancing people and planet whilst still helping them to be profitable.
Did you miss Part 1 of this series? Click here to read Part 1: Why Be a B Corp?
In the third and final instalment (scheduled to follow the publication of the next issue of Better Brands magazine), Matt will tell us about how the B Corp community help and support one and another, and how the benefits to his business have far outweighed the investment.