Being in business today is more than just about turning a profit. Businesses have a responsibility to all stakeholders, and not just shareholders, in the way they operate and the impact they have on the environment. By Jason Edge, Marketing Director, Mayo Wynne Baxter
Customers and employees are more demanding on businesses and expect them to not just be good at delivering their goods and services but also to be good corporate citizens. By that I mean that businesses are expected to be greener, charitable, and supportive beyond just delivering their core activity.
Look at most corporate websites and I am sure that they will declare that their organisations go beyond the expected in this regard. At Mayo Wynne Baxter, we have always had a strong commitment to our clients, our people and the communities we serve, but by what criteria could we and like-minded businesses measure ourselves?
Back in 2006 in the United States, three friends, who shared a vision to make business a force for good, formed B Lab which became known for certifying B Corporations. These are companies that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.
By the end of 2007, there were 82 B Corps and the movement gained momentum as more businesses wanted to publicly demonstrate that they took responsibility for their impact on the broader world around them. By February 2023, there were 6,017 certified B Corps across the globe including 1,161 in the UK.
Organisations with certified B-Corp-oration status are legally required to consider the impact of business decisions on their people, customers, suppliers, communities and the environment, ensuring a balance between purpose, people and profit.
The benchmarks needed to achieve accreditation are incredibly high and the auditing process is rigorous, with non-profit B-Lab independently scoring companies across governance, workers, community, environment and customers to determine the business’ social and environmental performance.
B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials. In order to achieve certification, a company must:
• Demonstrate high social and environmental performance by achieving a B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and passing the risk review. Multinational corporations must also meet baseline requirement standards.
• Make a legal commitment by changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders, not just shareholders, and achieve benefit corporation status if available in their jurisdiction.
• Exhibit transparency by allowing information about their performance measured against B Lab’s standards to be publicly available on their B Corp profile on B Lab’s website.
In May last year, Mayo Wynne Baxter (MWB) became a part of the UK’s largest legal and professional services group Ampa – and the group has now been awarded B-Corporation certification.
Dean Orgill, MWB’s chief executive partner, said, “This is a key milestone in our ambition to change the world of business for good. We believe we can be both purposeful and profitable, and our B-Corporation values are embedded in our business strategy and fully supported from the top-down. We also take great pride in helping our clients achieve their sustainability goals.
“As we continue to grow our group, we are looking for likeminded professional services brands to join Mayo Wynne Baxter and the wider Ampa group, whether they have B-Corporation status or not, and we can support them in their growth strategy as well as better business practices to people and the planet.”
Ampa also includes the brands CSS Assure, Shakespeare Martineau, Lime Solicitors, Marrons, and Corclaim, employing more than 1,300 people over 18 hubs across the UK and is the largest legal and professional services group to have achieved B-Corporation accreditation.
Helen Hay, group head of culture and sustainability at Ampa, said, “This is a huge achievement for us and demonstrates our commitment as a group to use business as a force for good for our people, planet, communities, and clients.
“We’re really proud to have achieved our highest score for how we treat our people, including our approach to pay and reward, our wellbeing initiatives and benefits and embedding professional development support and opportunities across the group of brands.
“We keep ourselves accountable through our responsible business ambitions that are constantly tracked and analysed, pushing us to do better and achieve more. So far, we have achieved a number of our ambitions across diversity and inclusion, reducing landfill waste and carbon emissions, as well as supporting young people in our local communities.”
For other businesses wanting to join us as B Corp certified I should warn you, it’s not an easy accolade to achieve or to hold on to. In December last year it was widely reported that the controversial beer brand BrewDog had lost its status as a B Corp less than two years after joining the scheme.
Jason Edge, Marketing Director