Making a difference has always been at the forefront of everything that we do at GEL Studios. It's what fundamentally drives us each and every day whether we are designing a brand new website, or creating an exciting new brand - however, what does making a difference ultimately mean or look like?
That's where for us - B-CORP comes in. Its very purpose of making a difference for good - aligns perfectly with ours, and I'm pleased to publicly announce that we've now officially started our accreditation process.
We were first made aware of B-CORP from working with Framework Training, they had been going through the process, and had just become certified. It sparked a train of thought about the structure that surrounds other businesses that are running a business to do "good" not just "make a profit". It also gave me (personally!) a great degree of reassurance that operating the business the way I have done so far - was more than OK. I can't tell you the number of times I've spoken to other SME owners, that have looked at me like I'm an alien when I told them quite simply, that "I'm not in it for the money..."
Over the coming weeks and months, I'm going to use our blog to document the process that GEL Studios is following to become B-CORP certified, starting with this very one! I hope that this blog series will be informative in some way shape or form to another business that's looking to adopt real business working standards and practice, in an effort to do good - as my feeling, is that we all could do with a little bit more of that at the moment.
The impact assessment.
Step one is quite simply to complete the B-CORP impact assessment. Its goal (in my opinion), is to get you thinking about the things that matter - and its outcome is to provide you with a set of steps to follow to adopt this new way of thinking/operating.
The impact assessment can be completed free of charge here.
It will take just a few hours and at this first step, just answer the questions honestly. Once you've done this - you'll get a score. To be able to proceed to the next step (a review of your assessment from a member of the B-CORP team) requires a score of 80 or more. By answering the questions honestly - you'll be able to see very easily (just as a result of answering the questions!) tasks that you can do to further raise your score, and chances are - gain some further clarity in the steps you need to take to align your business operations with that of B-CORP.
The official documentation recommends that before you proceed to the next step, you have more than 80 points. The reason being, is that under the process of inspection, you may lose a few points - that's normal. However, you do need a minimum of 80 points after the review to be considered. To proceed to the next step there is a cost allocated to it (at the time of writing this was £300), so it makes it worthwhile to spend some time at this stage by identifying the points that you can improve upon, and use this as an opportunity to quite simply - learn!
You can go back at any time (even after you've submitted your assessment to be reviewed) and adjust your responses without prejudice - so if you score more than the required 80, and you think your application is OK, you can still use the time between submitting your assessment, and it being reviewed, to make some worthwhile changes.
We scored 114 (out of a total score of 200) which I deemed OK to submit to the next step - however, there was still much room for improvement. The active things we're working on right now, are:
- Formal mission statement,
- KPI indicators for environmental impact,
- Documentation for code of ethics, whistleblower policy, and equal opportunities,
- Updated employee handbook, and
- Several other documented processes
The tasks we're spending time on now are things that have always "existed" (much like most of the things in the business) however they've not been documented. So this in itself is the first takeaway from B-CORP for us, these documents really do matter - and what fills these documents is our day to day approach and our working practice. These documents and their contents, then align with our much higher purpose - making a difference.
So what's next?
We're going to spend time over the next few weeks getting all our documentation compiled and ready, which will count in good stead for us when it comes to our impact assessment being reviewed. One challenge was how do we "store" this information. To that effect, we are going to use a piece of software called BookStack.
We've used BookStack as a means of providing documentation to our clients on some of our larger projects - we also use it actively for internal documentation. So we feel it's a perfect fit for the needs of documenting our processes - it also has really handy tools surrounding access, versioning, and comments.
We're also now starting exploring what might be the most important piece of becoming B-CORP certified, which is the "Legal Test".
The Legal Test is from my understanding, telling the world about the fact that the business has a greater purpose than money, and it requires this purpose to be put in the most public of places. Your company/businesses incorporation documents. They have a "tool" where it gives you a basic level of information about what's needed, however no actionable steps about what to take. It's my plan through this blog series to document this in great detail, as a means of helping anyone else finding this step contains more questions than answers.
We've started our journey and if a company of our size can do it - I'm sure yours can too! I'd like to make myself personally available to anyone else who is going through this journey, in a bid to assist in any way that I can. I'm very interested to talk to other business owners that have been through the process or are going through it.
If you'd like to connect with me on LinkedIn to discuss B-CORP - please do so!
Many thanks for reading, please follow us on LinkedIn/Facebook for updates on when the next blog post is released.