There are now more than 1,400 B Corps in the UK – nearly 200 of which are in the food and drink industry. And despite the controversy over multinationals in recent months, the vast majority of those certified (96%) are SMEs and startups.
So, what exactly is the draw for companies?
According to a 2020 survey, UK B Corps tend to perform better on average than non-certified businesses. They report a faster than average revenue growth (24% compared to a median average of 15%), greater levels of employee retention, engagement and diversity. They also demonstrate higher rates of innovation: 84% have introduced new or significantly improved goods or services in the past three years, compared with just 41% of all SMEs.
They also benefit from the steadily growing recognition of the B Corp logo among consumers. According to a 2022 survey, 37% of US adults are aware of B Corp branding, 63% of those who recalled purchasing from a B Corp brand actively sought out the certification, and 88% of those aware of the brand see its standards as very or extremely rigorous.
Certification also gives access to a community of like-minded businesses, many of which are open to sharing advice, support or partnering on collaborative projects.
For Will Dennis, group head of sustainability at Daylesford, that was a huge part of the appeal. “We’ve joined this amazing network and already we’re finding new partners, not just to do business with but to have open conversations with about the way we’ve structured our business,” he says. “The ability to share that information has been a great way to focus in on what we’re going to do in the next few years.”
It is this close-knit community that arguably lies behind much of the current debate, suggests Pip Murray of Pip & Nut.
“The community, of which I am one, care a huge amount about what it means to be a B Corp,” she says. “It’s not just a certification, it’s a movement, and the community care about what B Corp is evolving toward. Hence why there’s quite a lot of conversation around [the future] because it can’t just be a top-down approach.”