Josh Hearne, Raconteur’s chief operating officer, explains why Raconteur wanted to make a commitment to purpose beyond profit and the impact it will have on the business
How did Raconteur decide it wanted to become a B Corp?
A couple of years ago, our CEO Will [Brookes] and I were doing a three-year plan for the business and putting together our strategic objectives. We were doing well financially and wanted to focus on a non-profit-related objective that the entire business could get behind, alongside the usual financial targets. As leaders, we appreciate that not all employees are as obsessed with revenue and profit as we are, so the B Corp certification was the perfect thing to unite us all, retain the talent we had and help us attract like-minded new talent too. It’s also an awesome thing to do for our planet!
What is the process like for getting certified?
It starts with the impact assessment, which involves answering hundreds of questions about your company's practices and outputs across five categories – governance, workers, community, environment and customers – to obtain an initial score. This is the most time-consuming part of the process as you have to ensure all the data for each answer is retained for future questioning. Some questions are much harder than others to obtain information about and may require help from outside your organisation, for example we had to get our office’s renewable energy stats from our landlord.
Having obtained your score, assuming it’s below the magic 80 number needed to submit your assessment, you need to decide as a business which areas you need or want to improve on and start implementing change in those areas in order to gain more points.
When your impact assessment score is above the 80-point mark, you can submit your assessment to B Lab for review. During the review stage there is a call with an analyst, much like an audit, where you’re asked questions and are required to submit further information p to support the answers provided as part of the assessment.
Once through this stage you reach post-verification where the legal factors come into play. In order to certify, you have to both sign the B Corp agreement and alter your company articles of association. This is a legal document containing rules that govern the company, and which shareholders and directors agree on. The changes required include wording stating that shareholders will consider all stakeholders when making business decisions (not just themselves) and a commitment to creating a material positive impact on society and the environment through the business.
If you can get through all of that then the only thing left to do is publish your company’s public profile on the B Corp directory and shout far and wide about being certified!
How many people in the business were involved?
Approximately 20, out of 75, were directly involved. The initial impact assessment requires knowledge from across the entire business and subsequently obtaining a score of 80+ points means implementing new processes, policies and benefits, as well as making operational and structural changes, all of which require huge collaboration and stakeholder buy-in.
Was there anything that surprised you in the certification process?
I think the sheer breadth of things that businesses could and should be doing to benefit its stakeholders and the environment. Before we started on this journey we thought we were doing well on the ESG front. Going through the certification process, however, highlighted that although we were strong in some areas, workers in particular, we were behind in others, in particular customers and environment.
How is B Corp certification measured and how did Raconteur do?
Each question you answer as part of the initial impact assessment has points associated with it. The points available varies between questions, and even within the same question, points vary depending on how you’ve answered it.
In order to certify you must finish the process with at least 80 points. At Raconteur we managed to obtain a score of 84.2, which we are extremely proud of.
How has the news that we are now a B Corp been received by staff?
Better than I expected to be honest. We announced it live at one of our monthly company meetings and the crowd went wild! Everyone knew it was one of our main strategic objectives and that we’d been working hard on it for a long time, so when the news broke it was really exciting.
Since the announcement lots of people have been talking about the achievement internally and celebrating it externally on social media.
What comes next?
This is far from the end. What’s great about going through this process is you get the framework from which you can continue to improve as a business even after gaining certification. We now know the areas we need to improve on and exactly how we can go about doing that. We’ll continue to dedicate time and resource to the ongoing push towards being a better company, one that prides itself on focusing on more than just profit.