Why it matters that we’re a B Corp
SEC Newgate UK started the new year with the wonderful news that we are now a certified B Corp.
The accreditation is the culmination of an extensive programme we have undertaken to ensure that we deliver positive environmental and social outcomes through our operations, as well as focusing on giving the best advice, insights and change-making campaigns that deliver results for our clients.
B Corp is an endorsement of our strategy to do good through business and to deliver our core value of ‘Respect’: Respect for our people, for our clients and for the communities and world around us.
While we are proud to be a B Corp, this isn’t the end of the road for us, it’s merely a milestone in our ongoing programme to help define and deliver better business through the work we do with our team and clients.
While environmental and social impact (and indeed ESG) are under scrutiny and attack from some elements in politics and society, notably from the ‘Woke Capitalism’ movement, our belief in the stakeholder economy and in business driving wider positive impacts, in addition to profit and investment return, is grounded in a more pragmatic reality.
The belief that business can affect positive change isn’t particularly radical or new and is a reflection of the views of society and particularly of younger generations coming through.
SEC Newgate has, for the past three-years, run our ESG Monitor, a global survey which polls 12,000 people in 12 countries on their views on ESG and its impact and asks what the public expects of business and politicians.
The findings consistently show that people want business to step-up and to act ethically and responsibly – indeed 78% said they want corporates to be ‘good citizens’.
Yet in a world that can seem increasingly tribal what does a ‘good corporate citizen’ look like?
The Covid pandemic helped re-set views on the purpose of business. In one catastrophic period the critically important role of business as an employer, as a payer of taxes, as an organising focus at the heart of communities was underlined. There is nothing wrong with being a well-run profitable business – indeed there is a huge amount that is right about it. Global climate crisis and the race to meet the Paris Agreement net zero by 2050 goals have also underlined the impact the business can have on the planet and accelerated demands for business to decarbonise and ‘green’ its products, services and operations. As an organiser of people and capital to address and deliver solutions, business has few equals.
Yet we have also seen numerous scandals, most recently the spotlight on the Post Office Horizon project and the calls for justice for the wrongly accused, and convicted, sub-postmasters, which underscores the importance of corporate ethics and governance. Business can be a force for negative impact as well as positive change.
Yet what we have learned through our B Corp process is that running a profitable and successful business doesn’t mean compromising your ethics or ability to be commercially successful – it can and frequently does enhance it.
What separates good and bad business is simply the choices they make.
Good business places ethics and positive environmental and social impact at the heart of its strategy and decision making. It recognises that the choices it makes have impact beyond the balance sheet and it seeks to mitigate negative impact and embrace and champion activities that can drive positive social and environmental change. By doing that you build a better business and also one that is future-proofed and is a magnet for people, customers and champions who recognise that profit and purpose can co-exist.
B Corp for us is an endorsement of that strategy which is something we put at the heart of our operations and the advice we give to our clients.
We’ll take a brief moment to celebrate our B Corp accreditation but we will also now look to how we drive further improvements through SEC Newgate and play an active role as a convenor for change and for better business more widely. If you’d like to discuss B Corp or the work we are doing to prioritise both commercial success and positive impact then I’d love to talk it through with you.