March 2020 is B Corp Month! B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of social & environmental performance. Together, B Corps are working to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy for people and the planet. You can read more about this here.
To celebrate B Corp Month, Cotswold Fayre and Heart in Business, both B Corps, are sharing in this article about their B Corp journey. The two companies have been working together for many years. Amanda Joseph is the Credit Controller at Cotswold Fayre, and Hannah Fisher is the Digital Officer at Heart in Business.
Please can you tell us – What is a B Corp?
I would describe a B Corp as certified business across the globe that uses business as a force for good. B Corps meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. A B Corp does not just exist for profit but the planet and people around us. I believe if you have the right people in your business and work towards making the planet a better planet then the profit will come. It’s all about the triple bottom line. For me, I feel Cotswold Fayre is a perfect example of a company that is using business as a force for good. Within the company we have People, Environment and Community teams whose focus is to ensure the company is making the changes needed and striving for better – this has made a huge difference to what Cotswold Fayre has become. I am the leader of our People group and have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the changes we have made, which have impacted every single employee in a positive way. It makes you optimistic to see what the future holds.
Why did you become a certified B Corporation?
The main reason we decided to become a B Corp was to ultimately make the world a better place. I spoke to our CEO Paul Hargreaves to gain more information on his inspiration to certify Cotswold Fayre as a B Corp. What he told me was that he used to think that he was one of the only people that believed that business should not just be about profit, but it should be used to make the world a better place. It was during a conversation he had with Ed Perry, CEO at Cook that he realised there were other people out there that shared his views. Cook are also a B Corp, and this was Paul’s inspiration to start the certification process. Paul goes into more detail about this in his book “Forces for Good” where he writes about using business to make the world a better place. I must say, when we certified, I didn’t really understand the B Corp concept in great detail; however, I was given the opportunity to attend a B Corp retreat and this is where it started to make sense for me. I was able to meet and work with other B Corps and see what they had been doing in their businesses. When the retreat ended, I was excited to implement my new ideas and views and share what I had learnt with the rest of the team.
What has been your biggest highlight?
I would say our biggest highlight is that Cotswold Fayre is now Carbon Neutral. In August 2019 we decided to move our warehouse and distribution in order to partner with a company called Geodis. The move meant that we were able to reduce our carbon impact by 47% and become the first wholesaler of our kind in the UK to achieve carbon neutrality by offsetting our remaining carbon. This was a great move for us, and we hope that we will be an example to other business to do the same, whilst we continue to actively reduce the carbon in our distribution down to actual zero rather than net zero which we hope to do by 2025 when electric lorries will be widely available.
Part of being a B Corp for us is to ensure that the people we work with share our vision about making the world a better place. I do also have to mention however that earlier this year we won Business of the Year 2020 at the Thames Valley Business and Community awards. I cannot express how happy I was for our team. This just proved that all the work we had been doing within our business, our community, our people and across the globe with the Bala Children’s Centre in Kenya was being noticed. We really have made a difference. I came away from the award ceremony thinking about what else can we do to strive to be even better. There is so much more that we want to do, and I am confident that as a team we will achieve this.
So, Hannah, can you tell us what your company does?
Heart in Business is a coaching company. We inform and guide organisations who want to find their purpose and change their organisational culture to benefit people and the planet. ‘What exactly does that mean?’, I hear you ask! Well, there are various strands. We run two-day leadership workshops, where we explore authentic leadership, communication, conflict, workplace culture and purpose. We also run longer courses over a few months where people can explore these topics more deeply. Another strand is that we train organisations how to implement a coaching culture themselves in their own organisation. In addition, we provide bespoke training to organisations who want to change their organisational culture to one which is focussed much more on the wellbeing of people and the planet.
The really important thing to say about all this is that it isn’t just ideas and theory. We put it into practice in our Co-Founder Andrew Thornton’s supermarket ‘laboratory’, Thornton’s Budgens in Belsize Park, London. Thornton’s Budgens has been spearheading the movement to plastic-free in UK supermarkets. In 2019, last year, Thornton’s Budgens won the 2019 NACS European Convenience Retail Sustainability Award; the 2019 Most Sustainable Retailer of the Year Award at the Retail Industry Awards; and the 2019 Green Initiative of the Year at The Grocer Awards. None of this would have been possible without putting our Heart in Business principles into practice in the supermarket. The supermarket identified its purpose; implemented a coaching and listening culture; and it trusts staff to make decisions and gives them freedom to fulfil their potential.
It is really exciting to see this kind of transformation occurring in the organisations that we work with, and the core of it is about having people and planet as your highest priorities.
Can you tell us how Cotswold Fayre & Heart in Business started working together?
Cotswold Fayre and Heart in Business met because we are both B Corps!. Cotswold Fayre has been a supplier to the Thornton’s Budgens supermarket for a many years, and when Paul, the CEO of Cotswold Fayre discovered that Heart in Business is also a B Corp, he got in touch with Andrew. So he knew about the culture transformation occurring at Thornton’s Budgens, using the Heart in Business principles. Cotswold Fayre and Heart in Business then started working together to develop a purposeful, mindful and coaching culture at Cotswold Fayre.
What have you learned from this collaboration?
We’ve learned that there’s a great degree of shared ethos between Cotswold Fayre, Heart in Business and Thornton’s Budgens. We’ve helped transform Cotswold Fayre’s way of being as an organisation, and they’ve really challenged and stretched us too. It’s a relationship that continues to evolve and we’re always learning. It’s also confirmed what we believe – that if you put people and planet first, profit will follow – customers want to be able to make choices that minimise harm to people and the planet.
How do you see your future as a B Corp developing?
Heart in Business is proud to be part of the B Corp network – we have been a B Corp since 2017, and we have worked with several B Corps, including Cotswold Fayre. We would like to work with even more B Corps on authentic leadership, purpose and transforming work culture. One of our goals is to get more involved in the B Corp Community – not just to work with others, but because community is very important to us. Andrew and Eudora went to the B Inspired event in October last year and were really inspired by the commitment the B Corp community made to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. So we are aiming to go along to some more B Corp events, and also to becoming carbon neutral ourselves as an organisation. The next step is to certify the Thornton’s Budgens supermarket as a B Corp. Could Thornton’s Budgens be the UK’s first B Corp supermarket? Watch this space….