How does innocent embed B Corp culture into their brand?
Amy Bourbeau, Seismic co-founder and chief impact officer, interviews Karina O'Gorman, head of the Force for Good team at innocent drinks, about their B Corp journey.
A purpose-driven drinks brand on a mission to help people and the planet live well and die old, innocent gives 10% of all profits to charity. It has grown into one of the largest juice brands in the UK and Europe but has stayed true to the belief that business has a greater role to play in the world than making profits.
innocent has always looked to earn profits responsibly through such efforts as reducing its environmental footprint, creating a great place to work, donating significantly to its own foundation and other charities and establishing fair and respectful relationships with suppliers.
A natural next step for innocent on the sustainability journey was to become an official B Corp. innocent wanted to join the growing group of companies from around the globe who believe business should be a force for good in the world. It also wanted to leverage its voice to raise awareness around this movement. Seismic have had the true pleasure of supporting innocent on the B Corp journey – we have been genuinely impressed with the high bar they hold themselves to, their integrity and their commitment to redefining what success in business looks like.
We recently had the opportunity to catch-up with innocent’s Karina O’Gorman, who heads up the innocent ‘Force fir Good’ team, to talk about the company’s B Corp journey. She shares some great practical insights and advice, useful for any company considering pursuing B Corp certification, or for existing B Corps looking to further inject the B Corp spirit into their organisation.
Why did innocent decide to pursue B Corp certification?
Running our business in a responsible way has been a core element of the innocent DNA since the company first began. Becoming a B Corp provides external validation to those core values and the assessment behind it helps a company run a responsible business. This aligned with our ethos, was useful to us and others, and was something we wanted to get behind. It also allowed us to join a community our values deeply align with – where everyone is committed to being a force for good. The B Corp community has become our new tribe.
Can you share a bit about the certification process itself?
The first step was to present certification to our Bored (our equivalent of a Board of Directors) to gain their perspective on this potential direction. Everyone agreed it made sense for innocent and so we went straight to work.
We asked Amy Bourbeau and Andy Schmidt, Co-founders of Seismic, to support us and help us to understand what B Corp was and how the BIA assessment works. They helped us to establish how many points we had and where improvements could be made.
The project started with a kick-off workshop where we brought together a number of internal stakeholders from across the company who would be involved in providing the insights needed to complete the B Impact Assessment (BIA). As Executive Sponsor, our CEO, Douglas Lamont, set the scene on why this was a direction we had chosen to take. We also provided a broad overview of the B Corp movement, outlined the process for engaging the business as part of completing the BIA, shared what was expected of everyone in the room, and outlined how they would be supported by the project team. Everyone was already quite busy, so giving clear guidance on expectations and demonstrating that we were doing everything we could to minimise the impact on their day-to-day responsibilities was very important.
We had to complete the B Impact Assessment (BIA) and attain a qualifying score of 80 or more points. The BIA is designed to help measure and manage a company’s positive impact on their workers, community, customers, and the environment, as well as their governance and transparency practices. The questions were determined by our company size, industry, and market. We also had to disclose to B Lab any material negative impacts related to the company or its partners by answering their standard disclosure questions.
After our review call, we were at 92.5 points, well above the 80-point threshold! All that was left to do was sign B Lab’s term sheet and pay our annual certification fee, and we were officially a proud member of the B Corp community.
How did you involve innocent’s employees in this process during and after the certification?
innocent’s culture is very entrepreneurial and we have always believed in everyone having a role to play in delivering our mission to help people and the planet live well and die old. More importantly, if everyone is involved we have the collective power to be a force for good.
During certification, we gave updates on B Corp progress during our weekly company meetings. Shortly after we attained Certification and announced it externally, we had our annual summer company event and injected a lot of ways within the agenda to raise awareness of our joining the B Corp community. One particularly great example was having all our staff sign a giant copy of B Lab’s Declaration of Interdependence, which outlines the key principles and beliefs of the community of B Corps around the world.
We include information on B Corp in all our new start inductions and teach everyone how we always have “2 seats at the table” a metaphorical reminder to always consider environmental and social impact in every decision we all make.
And it’s not just metaphorical, in many of our meeting rooms in our offices we have installed these two chairs as a visual representation and reminder to internal decision-makers to take these key stakeholders into consideration in all company decisions.
We have established a group of employees from across the organisation who are responsible for gathering the necessary insights so we can update our BIA score on an annual basis. These B Keepers also act as ambassadors within the organisation and externally.
Seismic helped us develop the ‘innocent office promise’, a software tool which helps people understand what B Corp says about an office’s sustainability. Innocent’s office angels (office managers) are trained to use the tool to determine the B Corp score of each office. The information is fed back to innocent’s headquarters, Fruit Towers, so innocent can see how offices are performing and share learning to develop improvements globally. The innocent office promise helps everyone see the role they play in B Corp – we’re developing this to be open-sourced, as part of our support to other organisations on their sustainability journeys.
I know from our work with you that you have also now successfully implemented the company’s BIA performance into your company scorecard. Congratulations on this enormous accomplishment. What has that helped you achieve and how is it going?
That’s correct. Our company scorecard tracks against 5 key KPIs important to our business’s overall performance. Every employee’s annual bonus, from the C-Suite to the sales team, from finance to facilities – is directly linked to how we perform on the BIA questions we have identified which align most strongly to our current sustainability priorities. Tying our company scorecard to our BIA score gives us a clear and convenient way to make sure environmental and social performance are everyone’s responsibility.
Like anything that is tied to and impacts people’s bonuses, you must be very clear about expectations. You must think through a number of different scenarios, understand how different company activities can impact the BIA score and be prepared for each of them. In the tradition of my CEO Douglas Lamont challenging his peers to consider B Corp certification for their company, I encourage my fellow Heads of Sustainability to look into B Corp for your company. And, if you are already a B Corp, I challenge you to look into how you can tie every employee’s bonus to your BIA performance.
Are there any other ways innocent is working on their continuous improvement?
Yes, we’re working to improve our BIA score to exceed 100 points across our whole global business by 2023 and become carbon neutral by 2025. Every year Seismic help our company set targets for our improvement plan that affect the whole business. In going through the assessment and working out what our BIA score would be each year, Seismic help us identify areas for improvement and set improvement targets.
innocent and Seismic at edie’s B Corp masterclass
The Business Leadership Inspiration Sessions will be the perfect way to set the scene for the New Year, whether you’re a sustainability, environment or energy professional, or an executive decision-maker.
Hosted in association with Seismic, the event on 6 January 2022 offers up an afternoon of live, interactive webinar discussions and masterclass presentations – all dedicated to turning the global ambitions of COP26 into sustainable business actions, and balancing profit and purpose in 2022.
Experts from organisations including Virgin Media O2 and Seismic themselves have been confirmed to speak, with more names due to be announced in the coming weeks.
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