The journey to B Corp certification: Identifying our ‘why’ as a business

May 3, 2023


by | May 3, 2023 | Leadership and Culture, News


About 18 months ago, we began our journey towards getting B Corp certified, which has been a long and winding road. Last week, we became certified, which is a great reward for the effort the team have put in. Now it’s about continually improving and developing an impact strategy. This all stemmed from a drive to be more equitable and to champion those within the community that are often overlooked, and to think more about why we exist as a business.

Some of you may remember Simon Sinek’s viral sensation ‘start with why – how great leaders inspire action’ from back in the day but it does get you thinking about “why am I doing this?”. For me, I’m driven by the need to not overlook talent. I remember looking around me in my London agency days wondering where all the women over 35 were. The dropout rate for mum’s in my professional world was huge, but I loved my job – and I was just about to get married and start a family, so the alarm bells were ringing.

I wanted to work in a business that gave opportunity to women after childbirth, where there can be flexible working to accommodate family life and a culture that enabled talent to thrive. These were the founding principles of Modern. When I came across B Corp three years ago, there was a strong sense of alignment and by aligning ourselves with such a strong network, I knew it would give us even greater purpose and enable us to be more inclusive across the board. Sometimes we get it wrong, but as we grow and develop, we’ll make small steps in the right direction.

So why B Corp… B Corp enabled us to think more rigorously about how we operate from a ‘kinder’ perspective and to think more about people and impact, rather than solely growth and profit. I love the community and people elements of B Corp, like the way it makes us question everything about how we run our ship, the policies we have (and don’t have), the way we remunerate and how we interact with those we serve.  

B Corp made me think differently about business and challenged how we should operate. I enjoy a challenge and I like to do things differently, so it was a no brainer.

When I mentioned it to a few key team members, they jumped at the chance to get involved. Now, we have a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), a champion for sustainability and we’re making connections with our community all around us.  

It took us 9 months to get the business to a level where we could submit our application and then a further 9 months to go through the verification process. Getting to this point has been hard work but we’re now thinking far more comprehensively about how we improve even further. 

From just going through the application process, we identified the areas that we were doing well in and areas that needed improvement. Some of the biggest learnings for me:

  • Thinking about DEI. At Modern, we’re over 75% female, but our make up isn’t as diverse as it could be. We’ve started to ask our team about DEI to gain their feedback on how we can improve. We probably have some unconscious bias when it comes to recruiting, so we’ll be changing our processes and opening up our recruitment channels to access better diversity
  • When ‘giving back’, it’s not just about charitable giving. Simply donating 1% of profits to charity falls short of the true meaning of ‘giving back’ – and for B Corp, it can’t be just any charity. B Corp are looking for impact, so when you select a charity or get involved in a cause, it needs to demonstrate a socio-economic impact (environmental impact is good, but a result that impacts people positively is even better)
  • B Corp is more than lip service – it’s fundamental to your business. We’ve changed our Articles of Association to state that we’ll put impact at the heart of business decisions, which means we’re always putting people first
  • What are we buying and who are we buying it from – we’ve had to go through all our suppliers and assess them for their impact. It’s changed who we chose to buy from and why we buy. It’s getting to us to stop and think, and when we do buy, choose local, choose B Corp and question whether we really need it. What’s nice is that it’s rubbing off in my personal life too

So what’s next?

We published our first impact report in November 2022, and we’ll be working on our B Corp strategy over the coming weeks. Whilst we’ve been doing this for months, the journey has only just begun. We’ve started collecting data about ourselves, building links into the community and thinking about better equity in the business. We’re committed to making meaningful progress towards our B Corp certification and look forward to sharing our journey along the way.

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Further reading

The impact of the strategic skills gap in marketing technology

When conversion tracking goes wrong, everything gets shaky

Leading change: Unpacking the Forrester B2B Summit, North America