We are proud to announce that Brett Nicholls Associates has been certified as a B Corporation™
The background to this announcement begins at TEDx Glasgow, 7 October 2021, the Engine Works, Maryhill.
I’m listening to Charmian Love talk about business as a force for good, and she uses the term ‘B Corp’. I’ve never heard it before, and my initial thoughts are that it seems a clumsy and opaque title. What’s the B for? Does Corp mean Corporation or ‘corps’ like the army? Is an A Corp better? It prompts questions.
Everything Charmian goes on to say about B Corps resonates with me and the way I want to run my small firm here in Glasgow. I love the idea of a public and accountable demonstration of our commitment to doing business in a way which is sustainable and fair. The 2021 TEDx event is titled ‘Make or Break’ and as usual with TED by the end of it I am feeling inspired, energised and challenged.
(Side note – when we attended the same event in 2018 we were inspired to trial a four day work week, and haven’t looked back.)
Attendees are encouraged to make a pledge. I don’t publicly make any pledges at the event but the B Corp talk has stuck with me, and a few days after the event I email my friend Nick that my private pledge is to become a B Corp. Fast forward nearly eighteen months, and we have achieved that goal. It has been a huge amount of work, and has challenged me as a business owner and my assumption that we’re a ‘good’ business.
What is a B Corp?
If like me in 2021 you had not heard of B Corp, it is best explained by the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence:
More information can be found at the B Corporation website.
How do you become certified?
The B Corp certification process is all about measuring and verifying your impact as a firm. The Impact Assessment is the tool for determining whether a business meets the high standards required to achieve B Corp certification. Across five impact areas (Governance, Workers, Environment, Community, Customers) the business is asked around 150 questions about the way it operates. Questions are scored, and the threshold score to move on to the next phase is 80. The B Lab research suggests that businesses in our sector have an average score around 50.
This process could also reasonably be called ‘1,000 ways to improve your business’. It is challenging in many ways, and made me think critically about (and change) some ways we work. The questions are then verified by a B Corp assessor, who seeks evidence for positive answers which have generated points. The basic principle is: evidence the good things you’re doing. If they’re not evidenced, they don’t count (and points disappear). This appeals to our audit training, but hurts when we see points vanish in areas we know we have good principles and poor evidence.
The overwhelming feeling I have at the successful completion of the assessment is that we can improve in so many ways, and this is just the start of a journey for us as a firm. There are many areas of the impact assessment we scored poorly on – I want to address those, rather than celebrate the positives.
In addition to the impact assessment and follow up with the B Lab assessors, there is a tangible and very public final commitment to make. Our company’s articles of association are changed and lodged with Companies House.
The change to our articles means that the directors of the firm will have regard to the needs and interests of all of our stakeholders, not just the business owners. The main change is excerpted here for ease:
We take this commitment seriously, and commit to improving our assessment score each year we seek re-certification. Initiatives such as this will not solve the world’s problems on their own, and do not make that claim. But it does feel important to stay on the journey and do our part.
At the time of writing, there are more than 1,100 B Corps in the UK, and less than 50 in Scotland. I believe we are the first accounting firm in Scotland to be certified. I would encourage all business owners and leaders reading this to consider exploring the Impact Assessment. I guarantee it will be thought provoking, challenging and stimulating – whether or not you decide to continue toward certification.
If you would like to know more, please get in touch with me or call the office. I would like to thank all of my staff, and particularly Ella, without whom we would not have achieved this. Thank you all!