The certification process to become a B Corp not only evaluates a product or service, but also the positive material impact of the company behind it. The rigorous certification uses the ‘B Impact Assessment’ tool to evaluate how a company’s business model impacts five categories: workers, community, environment, customers and governance.
Jennifer Ford, Head of HR at the practice and now one of our resident ‘B-keepers’, was integral to the process from the beginning to the end. We recently spoke to her to gain a deeper insight into Bennetts Associates' journey to becoming a B Corp, the challenges, and advice to other architecture practices who are thinking of becoming a B Corp too. Read the full interview below.
Why is becoming a B Corp important for Bennetts Associates?
The practice is committed to making a positive social and environmental change. Becoming a B Corp aligns with our ethos and will provide us with a framework for continued improvement. Personally, I think the most important thing about the B Corp certification is the requirement for transparency and accountability. It builds trust.
What has been the most insightful part of brand journey?
Seeing the progress we were making in parallel to doing the assessment, we found that we scored higher at verification than at the first stage for some questions. This reassured us that becoming a B Corp was the correct fit for Bennetts Associates.
At the same time, what part was the most challenging?
The most challenging aspect was gathering a huge amount of information. You have to look really hard at what you are currently doing as a business. Having a team of people that specialise in the different aspects of the assessment was invaluable.
How did the practice become motivated to start the process of gaining certification?
Associate Director Rob Bearyman began the process; he had become aware of B Corp via the American retailer Patagonia and was the driving force behind us starting the assessment. When delving deeper into what being a B Corp meant, it was easy to remain motivated to reach certification. We reached out to some of our colleagues and built a team to work together on the assessment. It took us two years in total (with my maternity leave sandwiched in the middle of the process) and was a real team effort.
How do you see this certification impacting the way you do business going forward?
We have already seen such a positive impact from becoming a B Corp, it’s such a welcoming community! I think the support and guidance that comes with the certification is going to be invaluable in every aspect of decision-making. Ensuring we keep best practice in mind and to continue to measure ourselves against the highest verified standards at all times.
What advice would you give to other architecture practices that want to achieve a B Corp certification?
Take it slow and build a strong team! Achieving Certification is definitely a marathon rather than a sprint. Also having a strong team of colleagues, all encouraging each other, makes it a really rewarding project to work together on.