Our journey to becoming B Corp certified

 

“We have long believed that our corporate culture was a vital asset. What Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests brought into focus was the importance to our people, and our customers, of living our values and actively committing to continual improvement…our commitments in this area are and will continue to be significant.”
(Tim Dyson, Next 15 CEO, April 2021)

 

I’m Nick Chapman, Senior M&A and Sustainability Manager at Next 15 and every month, I will be updating you on our journey to becoming a more values-driven organization. We hope that these posts will reveal our successes and failures as we face up to the biggest task of all: how to bring purpose into everything that we do: from how we treat our people, how we impact the environment, how we operate an inclusive supply chain, how we achieve good governance and how we deliver work which has a positive social and environmental impact. We hope that by being honest and authentic in everything that we communicate, we can make it feel achievable for others: you can learn from our mistakes and that ultimately this becomes the norm for every business, no matter its scale.

We recently held the first meeting of our B Corp Champions group, which brings together representatives from each of our 20 businesses as well as various head office staff (a group of 43 in all from our total staff base of over 2000). After over a year of road-mapping our ESG initiatives, it was an exciting moment to unveil our plan with our businesses so that they can help us embed every action and ESG becomes a lens through which we scrutinise everything we do.

We chose B Corp as our framework for several reasons, the biggest of which was that we believe it to have real substance. B Corp was talking about the centrality of ESG way before the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement shook the world. B Corp provides a detailed and robust checklist, which gives countless ideas for how to become better, so it was a no-brainer for us to work with them.

Our first session focused on our future plans. There were many excellent questions raised, including ‘How has the pandemic shifted employer responsibility for emissions produced outside the office?’ and ‘How can we support our communities better whilst we continue to experience financial growth?’. It brought home to me that people think differently and it is that diversity of thought that drives success. One of the key lessons of Matthew Syed’s excellent book, ‘Rebel Ideas’, is that if you surround yourself with people who think alike, even if the experience may feel more comfortable, you will have the same blind spots. It reinforced that the more stakeholders we engage, the more varied and impactful our initiatives will be. I was also excited to hear the extent to which our businesses are keen to go above and beyond our group initiatives and share them so that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Future blogs will focus on one of the B Corp sections: Environment, People, Customers, Communities and Governance, and at least one initiative we are implementing. Until next time.