We're delighted to share the news that Harris Hill is now B Corp Certified! It makes us part of a global community of businesses meeting high standards of social and environmental impact, accountability and transparency, and leading the transformation of the global economic system.
That's a big ambition, but at the simplest level, being certified is recognition that we're here for the right reasons, a vote of confidence in the way we work, and verification that we're not just mindful of our impact on people and the planet now, but committed to continuous improvement.
It also means that we recognise the flaws in an economic system that puts profit before people, and that we're ready to play our part in building something better.
To explain in more detail, we probably can't do better than share this call to a family member of the HH clan - let's call her Nana Hill - transcribed from memory here as best we can...
"Guess what Nana? We've just heard that Harris Hill is now B Corp certified, so we’re officially a Certified B Corporation!"
"Yes, a B Corporation. They’re a new kind of company that doesn’t just exist to make profits for shareholders, but has a purpose and benefits all their stakeholders – clients, customers, staff and so on. They’re companies with high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency, and being certified means we’re meeting those standards."
"You didn’t want to be certified ‘A’?"
"I knew you were going to say that. But no, that's not how it works. ‘B’ is for B Lab, the non-profit network behind the B Corp movement, which aims to transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet."
"What’s wrong with the global economy?"
"Put it this way. You know at the end of a game of Monopoly when it’s clear who’s going to win, and the rest can only keep trudging around the board, trying to delay the inevitable, and getting fleeced at every turn? That’s basically where we are now: most of the wealth in very few hands, everyone else battling to stay afloat in the face of rising costs, desperately chasing profit and trashing the planet in the process. And of course, once one player ends up with everything, it's game over for everyone. Including them."
"Ah, so it's some sort of communist thing is it, the bee people?"
"It’s B Lab, and no, not at all. They’re all for successful enterprise, but it’s about how we define success.
As it stands, profit is really the only thing that counts, because most businesses have to put shareholders first, and that’s what matters to them. But shouldn’t it also matter how the profit was made, like whether they’re exploiting workers or harming the environment? Right now they might get some negative press and a bit of noise on social media, but as long as the profits keep coming in, they can pretty much ignore it.
That’s one problem. The other is that our system insists on perpetual growth, typically 3% per year, whether you’re a company or a national economy. "
"3% isn’t much though - what’s wrong with that?"
"Nothing, for the first year. But the next year, you’re starting with a bigger number, so 3% of that is bigger too, and so on. In less than 25 years, you’ve doubled in size."
"Isn’t that a good thing?"
"For a small company maybe, but at twice the size, you need twice the resources (give or take), so on a global scale, it’d be catastrophic. Yet that’s still the path we’re on.
"Oh dear. So what do we do?"
We transform the global economy. Before breakfast, if possible. We stop putting profit above all else and balance it with other factors, like a company’s purpose, their impact on society and the environment, how they benefit their customers and staff. Ultimately, we make business a force for good, not just for shovelling money to shareholders. "
"And is that what the bee people say?"
"Yes. Do you want to hear the B Corp Movement Manifesto?"
"I'm going to, aren't I?"
"Correct again. Here goes...[clears throat]:
Together, we transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.
Together, we lead economic systems change that will realise our vision of an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.
Together, we create standards, policies, tools, and programmes that shift the behaviour, culture, and structure of capitalism.
Together, we’re changing the rules of the game so that all businesses have to balance profit and purpose.
Together, we’re building a movement of people using business as a force for good.
Together, we won’t stop until all business is a force for good."
"You don't have to 'Amen', Nan, it's not an 'Amen' thing-"
"I know, just my little joke. Well, it all sounds very good, yes - but are you absolutely sure you haven't accidentally joined a cult?
"Quite sure, yes. We've learned a lot about it - there's plenty of information online and some very respected names involved. We just found the whole idea, the ambition, and what they’re trying to achieve really resonated with us. It's a great match with our values, but more importantly this kind of change has got to happen, and it's got to start somewhere, so we wanted to be part of it and applied.
For that, we had to supply a lot of information about the company and what we do, how we work, our policies, processes and so on. It’s quite a project, very comprehensive, but good that it's so thorough - it makes certification meaningful, because it's not just given to anyone; there have to be genuine reasons behind it."
In our case, working with under-served communities (people often overlooked by big business) is a positive, as is our open and transparent approach. We don’t have shareholders, so we don't have to put profit ahead of everything else; people stay with us because we value them and the internal processes are good, and because we’ve embraced digital and remote working in a big way, we’ve got a pretty small carbon footprint.
"I see, very good, yes. But do you think all that matters to your customers?"
"Fair point – it might not affect them directly, although obviously everyone benefits from protecting the planet, but I think people prefer to work with companies they can trust to be honest and who care about getting it right. It's about being a force for good and putting something positive into the world that benefits people, and if anyone can relate to that, it's surely people in the charity sector, who are the experts, after all.
Plus we'll be regularly reassessed to stay certified, which means standards have to stay high, and we're publicly committed to maintaining continuous improvement, considering all stakeholders in our decisions, and being fully accountable - you'll be able to see how we're doing on our forthcoming B Corp profile.
"And is that why you're doing it?"
It's great, but it's not really about us or what it says about the business: we got involved because we fully support what they're trying to achieve, and we want this movement to succeed. It's vital that it does.
Everyone knows the current system is broken - it's just not working for people (apart from the super-rich) and we know it leads to higher inequality, social fragmentation and environmental disaster. So it has to change, and if enough people get on board it actually might do, so we want more businesses to join us!"
We'll step out there - after this point it veered off into discussion of Christmas plans, Uncle John's bunions, and the obligatory updates on people we've never met who may or may not be related to people we apparently went to school with but don't remember - so you don't really need all that.
But hopefully this goes some way to explaining why this certification is such good news, and not only for ourselves. There'll be more to share with you in due course, but if you'd like to know more about the B Corp Movement, just check out their website here, or for any other queries, call us on 020 7820 7300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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