Behind the B Corp Way consultant’s work: what it takes to transform your business’ impact and certify
The platform of B Corp Way consultants has grown in numbers and expanded its offering, but how do they concretely support companies in the journey towards impact improvement and certification?
About B Corp Way
Increasingly, medium-sized organizations and large multinationals are looking to start their impact journey and become part of the B Movement. Their complex structures and needs can make it difficult to make the necessary changes without support. We introduced B Corp Way in June 2020: a platform created by the team behind the European Certified B Corporation movement that enables businesses in Europe to find B Corp consultancies that meet their needs and help them address their challenges and find the best possible support.
In this article, you’ll hear directly from the consultants behind B Corp Way: what drives them, how they work, and the challenges in implementing a transformational journey towards sustainability inside these companies.
In 2022, the B Corp Way platform has grown. Last January, two new service offerings and nineteen new B Corp Way partners were added to the program, nearly doubling the number of consultants. The platform now hosts 44 total B Corp certified consultants and offers six consulting services: BIA Advisory, Carbon B Radical, Radical Transformation, SDGs and the new additions B in the Boardroom and Marketing & Communications. Companies accessing the platform need the right advisors depending on their topic. Independently on where they are on their certification journey, and even if they are not looking to certify but rather improve their practices on a thematic basis.
As we move into a more responsible, impact-driven world, it’s becoming more critical that businesses communicate their work both internally and externally. The new Marketing & Communication offering features consultants familiar with training marketing professionals to illuminate the benefits to an organization and its wider stakeholders of incorporating purpose into their business.
To ensure that the message of sustainability and impact is conveyed throughout our organizations, from top to bottom, we need companies’ directors and senior leaders to be fully equipped with all the necessary tools to take a responsible business forward. The new B in the Board service is offered by consultants who can develop and deliver bespoke sessions for Board members and leadership teams on the implications both of certifying as a B Corp and the incorporation of purpose across the business.
What does it mean to be a B Corp Way consultant?
For the Italian boutique consulting company Bottega Filosofica being a B Corp Way consultant not only means playing an active role in society by contributing to the spread of regenerative economic models but also proactively being part of a community by amplifying its reach. With their work, they support organizations in being better for themselves and the world. Similarly, B Corp Way consultancy Sustainable Growth Associates (SGA) sees the enormous potential for the B Corp Movement in Europe and wants to do their part to facilitate and accelerate the systems change towards stakeholder capitalism.
“It is the opportunity to be part of a community of purpose-driven consultants, putting impact at the heart of their work and supporting their clients to do the same. With a B Corp Way consultant, there is no compromise on this mission.”
Impact46 is a global firm working worldwide, with the majority of their clients based in Europe and Asia. For the social impact agency Roots 4 Sustainability (R4S), in practice, being a B Corp Way consultant means having the know-how and experienced competency in using the B Corp standards to help complex companies to move forward in their impact management journey while balancing criteria of value orientation, feasibility, desirability and transformation pace. R4S designs, implements, and evaluates transformational projects for organizations in sustainability, social impact and inclusive businesses to build a more inclusive, regenerative and sustainable economy.
Why did you join the program?
For many B Corp consultants, the reason for joining the program was already ingrained in their companies’ DNA. Bottega Filosofica wanted to be part of the B Corp Way program because it represented the natural continuation of their mission. Still, it’s also an accreditation that makes them proud and motivates them to do better and better.
According to SGA, the B Corp Way platform offers the opportunity to work with companies that view sustainability from the same holistic, socio-ecological perspective, on which their approach is built and help others in transforming their business model to get there:
“The B Corp certification, in particular the B Impact Assessment (BIA), fully aligns with our methodology and can therefore be employed as an effective element and enabler of a company’s transformation journey.”
For R4S, all the aspects of being a B Corp with which they work every day have been and are very important to fulfill their purpose of driving positive impact businesses. In particular, they leverage the standard, the tools, and the B Corp certification to provide methodological robustness to their transformation services towards sustainability.
What does your work involve?
All consultancies part of the program offers services that address different areas of the journey towards the B Corp Certification and commitment to being a truly sustainable business. This journey often starts with a conversation with the company board, leading to the broader B Corp Way “B in the Boardroom” service.
For example, SGA starts engaging with the supervisory or management board “to establish a shared awareness, understanding and language, and commitment towards socio-ecological sustainability.” According to them, The B Corp approach can serve as a “handrail” in this process, providing guidance and significantly lowering the threshold to take the first steps. Similarly, Impact46 worked with the CEO and Board of a leading investment firm to embed social impact into the company’s investment strategy as well as processes, tools and capacity building for investees. The company has developed several impact frameworks to support Board level discussions on the company’s strategy and approach to social impact measurement.
The consultant’s work is also about understanding different needs and challenges to address key questions. According to Impact46, enhancing social impact is always at the heart of their work but the implementation can be highly bespoke and adapted to each client’s needs.
“Providing sustainability consulting for businesses, for us, means using the methods and tools of coaching, process consulting, facilitation, and philosophy to help clients authentically and satisfactorily answer the question: How can we balance profit and the common good?”
In the last year, Bottega Filosofica has supported the establishment of two benefit corporations, assisted medium-to-large companies in inclusive leadership and talent development paths in their organizations, and conducted several projects aimed at building internal mentoring systems to make the organization more inclusive and sustainable.
For SGA, translating the company vision into strategy and action is the “hard, detailed work” of sustainability transformation covering every aspect of the organization. The B Impact Assessment (BIA) provides the right starting points and facilitates taking concrete steps in the right direction. This is part of the B Corp Way “Radical Transformation” service offering.
R4S’ experience with clients such as Ferrer, Danone, Camper, Grupo Consorcio, or Holaluz has shown them that there are key stages in the transformation journey. First, they look at the existing sustainability attributes and how to enhance them. Then they analyze the level of the company’s maturity in regards to B Corp standards and Certification. The final steps involve defining the sustainability topics to be prioritized and the improvement roadmap and its implementation.
What value can you add to the companies you work with?
B Corp Way consultants share the same holistic approach towards sustainability and one of the key added values they provide is creating awareness around this perspective. The second step enables the organization to make difficult decisions that demonstrate their commitment to the transformation journey through various tools and frameworks.
For example, Bottega Filosofica combines Theory U and Design Thinking in a personal and effective way in order to offer their clients a deep participative approach through which they can build their own path. SGA uncovers the company’s purpose, ensuring that it truly reflects socio-ecological sustainability and facilitating the change process on an individual and organizational level. R4S provides three main values: connection, holistic view and comprehensiveness.
“We connect our deep knowledge of the standards with our holistic interpretation of the needs, challenges and contextual characteristics of the company, driving an impact management path that is aligned with B Corp but, above all, makes sense and brings strategic value to the company while being feasible and building on the key levers present in the organization.”
Impact46 has developed a number of proprietary methodologies and tools which are sector-agnostic and can be tailored to design, implement and measure ambitious social impact initiatives.
What are the main challenges?
By working with clients and through their research on strategic sustainability in Europe, SGA has identified two top obstacles for companies against sustainability: the sheer multitude of ESG topics and the lack of education and shared understanding of sustainability. Similarly, R4S finds that companies at the beginning of the journey usually struggle to understand how to start, align concepts about what sustainability means and what social and environmental opportunities and risks affect the company, and prioritize an improvement plan. During the audit and certification process, companies experience difficulties with the impact data management and verification documentation.
One of the main challenges we see across the board with clients is that they are struggling with how they define, measure, deliver and communicate their impact. We see increased interest from our clients to join the B Corp movement and we are supporting them in this journey.
Consultants have also seen an increasing demand for support in maintaining their B Corp status and how to build and capitalize on certification. At this stage, R4S observes, the main obstacle is to transform the company’s culture, embed the positive impact purpose, and engage external stakeholders — such as the value chain or industry players — so as to multiply the impact and spread the sustainability perspective, among others.
“We have great faith in the ability of people and organizations to learn and build the new from their own purpose and embodied values. This inside-out approach multiplies the effects of our consultancy and makes the systems and their parts increasingly self-sufficient and empowered.“
By using a holistic approach based on appreciative inquiry and systems thinking, Bottega Filosofica firmly believes that it is possible to build on the strengths of the organization, highlighting and enhancing all that is good so that it becomes a platform for tackling the toughest challenges.
B Corp Month activations
Bottega Filosofica is opening their doors to allow you a look behind the B. During the whole month of March, from Monday to Friday, from 10 to 18, you can visit their headquarters in Rome, via Carlo Denina, 72. For security reasons, please send a quick message to email@example.com before your visit.
On March 16th at 4 pm join the masterclass ‘Cosa puoi fare per la sostenibilità sociale: best practice e progetti concreti’ (in Italian), organized with the B Corp Way partner Goodpoint, to explore the theme of social sustainability, thinking about what we can do and the fields in which we can act, in our company and — through it — in the surrounding community. Reserve a place by writing at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nexio Projects & Utopies
Today a Masterclass led by the Dutch B Corp Way consultancies Nexio Projects and Utopies was organized on what it takes to develop a roadmap to contribute to Carbon Neutrality by 2030. More information here.
Learn more about B Corp Month here.
Check all the upcoming events here.