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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Cogan

Our B Corp Journey: Learnings & Top Tips

Otonomee submitted our B Corp business impact assessment for analysis last week having spent much of this year working through the actions. B Corp is fast becoming the standard for ethical businesses that prioritise social, environmental and benefit governance. Displaying the B Corp certification shows present and future stakeholders what your company stands for.

For us at Otonomee, the decision to work towards B Corp felt natural as it was very much aligned with our own vision and goals. Otonomee was established to be a different and disruptive player in a traditional industry, and we believe that our remote-first geo-friendly model is better for people, better for business and better for the communities that we live and work in. In that way, we are part of the new world of work, a new approach to working and a new approach to how business is done. Staying true to why Otonomee was created, we believe businesses have a responsibility to people and planet and should be a force for good in the world.

To become a B Corp certified company, one must achieve a minimum of 80 points in the Business Impact Assessment (BIA) of over 200 questions across 5 pillars of Governance, Community, Workers, Environment and Customers. Having dedicated a lot of time and resources to this process, here are some key learnings and tips from our journey:

Think About the Why of your Journey

Before approaching the business impact assessment, it’s important to research the B Corp movement to ensure it aligns with your own mission and goals. From there, we recommend pinning down your company’s purpose and impact. Having an overall sustainable business strategy aligned with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (which also inform the questions in the Business Impact Assessment) will allow you to have a sense of focus and enable you to choose actions from the BIA that will fit with your business model and goals. Be aware that embarking on your B Corp journey is a long-term commitment to business for good and continuous improvement.

Answer Realistically First and then Based on Aspirations

When you approach the Business Impact Assessment, firstly do not be intimidated by the number of questions! Secondly, to achieve a baseline score, go through the assessment and answer based on your current state. After this is done, answer again but this time also answer with your aspirations in mind e.g., if you plan on introducing remote working before submitting the assessment, click yes to the question on whether you offer telecommuting options. This is very important as many questions are unweighted ‘gatekeeper questions’. Answering them in the affirmative within the BIA will open up further weighted questions and enable you to ascertain a likely score for you to achieve after you have worked through your actions.

Download the BIA & Create an Action Register

Once you have answered based on your aspirations, click the ‘Download’ button on the assessment portal. The created Excel spreadsheet will include every question you have answered. From there, you can use this spreadsheet as an Action Register. You can then add columns such as status, owner, ETA and points target. As you will be asked to provide evidence of some of your work when it comes time for your B Corp submission analysis, create a folder in which to upload all the evidence. You can link to each piece of evidence within your Action Register.

Involve Stakeholders

Certification is a big undertaking that will encompass every area of your business. You’ll need buy-in and assistance from employees at all levels to make this project a success. In Otonomee we had a core project team consisting of members of the leadership team, a project manager and a subject matter expert. As well as this, we assembled a group of employee volunteers, the B Squad, who assisted with actions, offered feedback and helped run the resulting initiatives, as well as playing an important role in engaging the wider employee base with our B Corp journey. There were also many other stakeholders across the business who were invaluable. By its very nature, B Corp is all about involving stakeholders, so it felt very important for us to do so.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Seek Help from External Sources

If you work on this in a vacuum, self-doubt may creep in as to your approach. Luckily there’s a fantastic network out there in Ireland and beyond. We started the All-Ireland B Corp Bootcamp in October which was so capably run by Andy Hawkins (Business on Purpose), Graham Gillen (Eccountinc) and Sara Blake (Earthology). The knowledge, information and resources shared on the Bootcamp have been invaluable. We also attended two B Corp events hosted by James McManus of Earth’s Edge; one in March near the beginning of our B Corp journey and one in November as we were close to submission. Listening to speakers from B Corp-certified companies across Ireland proved very inspirational. B Lab Europe were always on hand over email to assist us along the way which was much appreciated. There are also many B Corp LinkedIn groups including B Corp Community and B Corps in Ireland.

Once you press that Submit button, your assessment won’t lock so you still have to time to work on your actions during the wait time for a B Corp analyst to review your assessment. Best of luck!


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