B Corp: Good for business?

As the B Corporation movement grows, we look at why brands and agencies might engage with the process beyond the obvious social and environmental benefits – and whether others will be left behind if they don’t follow suit

B Corporations, a way of certifying businesses’ positive impact on employees, communities, and the environment, have been around for nearly 15 years. The presence has naturally been stronger in the USA where the certifying body, B Labs, originated, however there has been a global surge in interest in recent years. The number of Certified B Corporations around the world has grown by nearly a third in the last 18 months, with around 3,500 companies currently certified in 74 countries.

A testament to the growth seen in the UK – where B Corp assessments were introduced in 2015 – is the Old Bank NOMA, a space run by creative studio Standard Practice out of a building development in Manchester. This year it became the city’s first B Corp ‘hub’, home to a number of brands that are Certified B Corps or B Corp Pending, including Blossom Coffee.

Launched earlier this year by Andy Farrington and Josh Clark, Blossom Coffee was built with B Corp principles baked in from the outset, with its status currently pending. As outdoor and climbing enthusiasts, the pair drew inspiration from brands like Finisterre and Patagonia – both Certified B Corps – and knew that when it came to Blossom Coffee, they would look into the B Corp model as “a foundation for building the business.”

“I do genuinely believe that the movement is growing quite a lot in the UK, even the last year or so. It’s becoming a much bigger thing,” says Farrington, who has observed an uptick in customer interest around Blossom Coffee’s business practices. “We’ve noticed massively people pay a lot more attention to what we’re doing environmentally, more so than what our offering is, which is quite interesting.” He says the same goes for social media too and has been surprised to see social posts about donating to local initiatives gaining far more traction than any about a new coffee variety.

We are now in a world where customers are becoming more ethically conscious – particularly in light of events this year, which have shifted collective focus to community-minded initiatives and behaviour. Meanwhile many brands have been scrambling to show (some more meaningfully than others) that they are socially and ethically engaged, and in this instance, the B Corp logo acts as a simple marker of a company’s ethical and environmental credentials. Farrington suspects that the presence of B Corps will continue to grow, and for knowing customers, the B Corp logo may well supersede symbols like organic or Fairtrade, particularly in the F&B sector, as those certifications don’t account for employee practices.