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To B or not to B: Our B Corp Certification Journey

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Achieving B Corp Certification

One day, back in lockdown in 2020, our Owner & MD John asked me to research whether Uprise Up could potentially become a B Corp. He had heard lots of positive things being said about B Corp Certification. We’d also been feeling the buzz (pardon the pun) about the movement from others in the marketing agency sector. And so began our journey into the world of B Corp!

What is B Corp?

The B stands for Benefit and it is a global movement to reinvent capitalism so that it works not just for shareholders but also for workers, communities and the environment. B Corp is working hard to change the very bedrock of business globally.

Since starting in 2006, the movement has really grown. It’s amazing to be part of a community which spans 75 countries, with over 1,200 B Corps in the UK alone. London is actually the B Corp capital of the world!

Uprise Up only works with socially positive organisations, most of whom are charities, with the purpose of making the world a better place. We were immediately struck by what we felt was a natural fit. This was even before we had explored the movement further and understood all the benefits of B Corp certification.

The B Corp Certification Process

Becoming a B Corp is a tough process. But, we believe that this rigorous assessment is fundamentally why it works.

When a company becomes B Corp certified, both you and they know that they’re standing shoulder to shoulder with companies meeting high standards for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Meeting this standard pushes businesses to really challenge themselves and create a more substantial positive impact for employees, customers, the wider community and the planet.

The information required throughout is hefty and the scale of the project means companies must take it seriously. It’s a time investment for prospective B Corp certified businesses, with financial investments also being needed along the way.

Stage 1: Completing the B Impact Assessment

The first step on our B Corp journey was completing the B Impact Assessment. This is available for anyone to sign up to and fill out online. The assessment measures your impact in several areas, including:

  • Governance
  • Workers
  • Community
  • Environment
  • Customers

Key impact areas that B Corp companies focus on enhancing

Companies that hit the magic score of 80 points or more care eligible to begin an application.

For us, the assessment highlighted areas where we could improve the company. We found there were some opportunities to improve in every area. Some suggestions were larger and would require more time and resources to enhance. Others were smaller and simpler to improve. In some cases, simply creating more awareness within the company was a step in the right direction.

A few things we reflected on after this initial assessment included:

  • Ownership and staffing of the company. This focused on ensuring we are operating fairly and considering equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Our carbon footprint. Our offices used to be a old Victorian teddy bear factory! Whilst full of character, the building’s age makes energy efficiency a challenge. So,l we started work with our landlord to find ways to make improvements.
  • Our human resources policies and identifying what else we could put in place.
  • Our suppliers. Taking the time to ensure we are purchasing ethically, and considering the social and environmental impact of our suppliers.

It was great to see that there were many areas we were already doing well for. Helping socially positive organisations and charities if at the heart of our organisation, so we  scored particularly well for the Customers section. Still, since the company was born in 2011, we’ve continually been making great strides to improve how we operate, especially for our staff. So, in some instances it was simply a case of tidying up processes and making small adjustments.

Useful Resources

If you are thinking of embarking on the same path and are looking for further information, we found the best place to start was B Corp’s UK website. They have loads of useful information about the movement, community and application process.

Stage 2: Making Improvements

Once we had undertaken the initial assessment, the next stage was prioritising and implementing improvements to enhance the company. Not a small task – and often easier said than done! But we persevered, and with time, made the necessary changes so we could then submit our application.

The Big Plastic Count - monitoring our plastic usage in office and at home
To help increase awareness about our environmental impact as a company, we took part in The Big Plastic Count. Click on the image above to discover more about the event and the lessons we learnt.

Stage 3: Application Review

We submitted our B Corp certification application in March 2022. This then underwent several reviews by members of the B Corp team and including the submission of several corroborating documents. The whole of the process took several months to complete.

Stage 4: Certification Achieved

It took us a year from our initial application, but we are extremely proud to announce that we achieved our B Corp certification in March 2023 Our final score was a (very impressive we like to think) 105.9!

The Benefits of B Corp Certification

One of our company values is to ‘relentlessly pursue continuous improvement’ and this element of the B Corp movement really aligns for us. We’re doing well enough to be B Corp certified and we’re incredibly proud, but it doesn’t stop there.

Each year we’ll be required to write a B Impact improvement report and recertify every 3 years. It’s also worth highlighting that there are currently plans in the pipeline at B Corp for changes to the certification process. This will help to make sure B Corps are all performing at their very best.

Being B Corp certified is certainly going to affect positive change for us. It’s a driving force to make things even better for our employees, our community, and the environment.

Many of our new joiners are aware of B Corp and its benefits through their studies. We believe we are a great company to work for and our B Corp certification certainly gives that rubber stamp. We’re looking forward to all our staff getting involved personally by joining online B Corp communities and groups too. Our new certified status will also help our clients, and be seen as a positive sign by procurement departments.

B Corps own research data indicates that B Corp businesses in the UK outperform their non B Corp counterparts, including seeing a faster growth in annual turnover. All whilst being a ‘force for good’ and having a positive impact on employees, customers and the planet.

What’s Next?

Whilst we’re only at the start of our journey for us it’s already been worth it. We’re excited for the future as we are committed to improving our performance and are confident we can take things further.

Work With Us

If you are a charity looking for a responsible, data-driven digital media agency, we’d love to hear from you! You can either contact us with an enquiry or take a look at the digital media services we offer. If you like the sound of our company, and want to work as part of our award winning team getting up in the morning to make a real difference, you can also take a look at available roles on our careers page.

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    Getting acquainted with our plastic usage

    The Big Plastic Count - monitoring our plastic usage in office and at home

    Earlier this month the UK’s biggest plastic investigation took place.

    Generally speaking, most people do their bit to recycle, but we can’t escape the fact that plastic waste is still EVERYWHERE. To put this into perspective, the numbers suggest the UK throws away an estimated 295 billion pieces of plastic each year.

    In a bid to prove that something has to give, we stepped up and played our part in Everday Plastic’s initiative (in partnership with Greenpeace UK): ‘The Big Plastic Count’. The cause was founded on the basis of pushing the government, brands, and supermarkets to tackle the plastic crisis once and for all. 

    With each and every one of us at Uprise Up sharing the common value of seeking to make the world better, whether that materialises as a more progressive, more inclusive, or greener world, the cause really spoke volumes to us and really didn’t take much convincing for us to sign up.

    The team had their tally sheets handy to make a conscious effort to track their individual use throughout the week and as a result, we got very acquainted with our plastic footprint. Below we hear a couple of personal accounts of the team’s experience. 

    How we got on

    “I usually try to be fairly conscious about minimising the amount of plastic I use and actively recycling where possible. However, going through the physicality of counting every single individual piece of plastic I used in a week was revealing. Participating in the initiative has revealed I am definitely using more plastic than I would have thought.

    I realise that as well as reducing my overall consumption I also need to distribute efforts to paying more attention to the type of plastic I’m using. A substantial 66% of my weekly use included soft plastic, which is more difficult to recycle in comparison to hard plastics. Tallying my individual use has also made me more conscious of my shopping habits and the type of brands and products I usually lean towards. It’s been invaluable reflecting on the bigger picture I’ve been made more aware of how I can make better choices in my day-to-day usage.”

    Charlotte Agg, SEO Assistant

    I was pleasantly surprised with my results. It turns out I actually use a lot less plastic than I originally thought. I think this is largely down to the companies I purchase my produce from and the recent changes to their packaging that has been introduced in recent years. 

    Most of my plastic usage came from fruit and veg packaging or individual ‘snack-type’ packaging, I found that even if a punnet of fruit was cardboard it always seemed to have a thin plastic film lid! 

    Although my takings from the count have been positive, on reflection I feel even more encouraged to cut this down further and make a concerted effort to avoid purchasing plastic heavy products. In reality, this will look like opting for loose fruit and veg produce and adjusting to snack items that can be bulk purchased and then separated into smaller portions in my own reusable tupperware. ” 

    Brogan Carroll, Paid Media Analyst

     

    Our group takeaways from participating look a little like this:

     Have a cause you really care about? Drop us a message, we’d love to talk it over with you. 

     

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