Will COP26 accelerate the B Corp revolution?
COP26 is upon us. World leaders are descending on Scotland to reach new agreements on how to tackle climate change. It's pressing, it's urgent, and it's nearing the top of everyone's agenda.
Climate change isn't something governments can thrash out over a couple of single malts while the rest of us carry on regardless, it's something we all need to play our part in – on an individual and corporate level.
The push for Net Zero
Much of the lead up to COP26 has been discussion around Net Zero: governments, businesses and communities are all making pledges to be carbon neutral in the coming years.
In the run up to COP26, The UK Business Climate Hub is encouraging businesses of all sizes to commit to cutting carbon emissions and are offering tools and support to get started.
But is a simple pledge enough? According to a YouGov poll, two-thirds of the British public don’t believe companies sincerely want to help the environment. ‘Greenwashing’ won’t cut it, if you’re really serious about a commitment to Net Zero it could be time to join the B Corp revolution.
B Corps are a community playing a big role in changing the way businesses operate in the UK and made a promise to support every B Corp in the UK to make a Net Zero 2030 commitment by the start of COP26.
B Corps are no longer the corporate outliers, more and more businesses are taking their commitment to corporate responsibility seriously and taking the B Corp plunge.
A growing movement
There are currently over 3,500 Certified B Corporations in more than 70 countries and by the end of 2020 there were more than 425 fully certified B Corps in the UK, an increase of 32% since 2019 and almost double the number seen in 2018. The year-on-year growth is significant and substantial, and it’s predicted to rise even further in a post-Covid, post COP26 climate.
What does being a B Corp really mean?
A B Corp is a business that is committed to their social and environmental impact as much as their financial returns. To be certified as a B Corp you must meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Why become a B Corp?
Being a B Corp goes beyond committing to Net Zero. And it’s more than a nice logo to stick on your website. There are lots of benefits that being a B Corp can bring.
Helping the planet and society
The most obvious and tangible benefit is that you're making the world a better place. All your products, practices, and services must be set up to do no harm and benefit all. It's a long-term commitment to doing business for good.
In a B Lab survey UK B Corps reported an average 14% year-on-year revenue growth. There's evidence that if you're a young company being a B Corp helps to secure investment, and in a world where customers are increasingly ethically conscious, B Corp accreditation is a simple marker of your credentials.
Employees increasingly want to feel connected to an organisation's purpose and values and corporate responsibility is a big part of this. If you've got B Corp certification it shows you're taking your responsibilities seriously.
A framework for improvement
The B Corp process is rigorous, and your accreditation can be taken away if you don't continue to meet the requirements. So accreditation isn't the end, it's a permanent framework for constant improvement, and there's an active B Corp community to support and inspire you to greater change.
Will COP26 be a seismic shift?
COP26 will undoubtedly bring growing political momentum around climate change and wider sustainability issues. With that will come a shift in public expectations and the introduction of new regulations both of which will influence and drive behaviour across all sectors.
The need for action is clear and as business leaders we can all play our part. In a post pandemic, post COP26 world, being a B Corp could be a great place to start.
Find out more about the B Corp movement: https://bcorporation.net/
Keep up to date with all the latest from COP26: https://ukcop26.org