To BCorp, or Not To BCorp image 1

To BCorp, or Not To BCorp

Words by Tim Etherington-Judge

Two things happened in 1986: an Argentinian footballer jumped in the air, punched a football and upset a nation half a world away and Jay Westerveld coined the term 'Greenwashing'.

In 2022 we have been given a new term, 'Stock Sustainability', defined as the act of companies around the world spending vast chunks of their marketing budgets and digital real estate to regurgitate stock phrases that tell us how 'green' they are, and how 'committed' they are to their 'journey to protect the planet', 'for a better future' where 'we all win and are in it together'.

The truth is that few of companies are making the changes required to their business practices to make the urgent impact we need to avert the twin crises of Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss. And it's not just fossil fuel companies that are duping us, it's across all industries, including alcohol.

So, if sustainability word soups are now the corporate marketing tool du jour, how can we figure out the potential Patagonia's from the evil Exxon Mobil's?

Thankfully, B Lab are on hand to help with their B Corps.

Who are B Lab and what are BCorps?

B Lab, the organisation that certifies companies as BCorp's, is the non-profit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities and the planet.
It was created in 2006 with the mission to inspire and enable people to use business as a force for good, and today is one of the most sought after certifications for any company that cares about the future of humanity.

BCorps are companies that have undertaken a rigorous impact assessment of their business covering stakeholders as diverse as the environment, workers, customers, local communities, and their own governance, making it an extremely comprehensive certification and what gives the certification real power is that BCorps are also legally required to consider the impacts of their business activities on all their stakeholders.

Why are spirits brands becoming BCorps?
My company, Avallen, became a certified B Corporation at the beginning of 2022, which we hold as one of the most valuable achievements in our company's very short existence. We believe that the greatest value of becoming BCorp is it gives us an easily navigable framework to improve many aspects of our company that are so important to us.

It is this framework, known as the B Lab Impact Assessment, that is at the heart of the B Corp process. It is both a forensic review of current business practices and a roadmap for the future. As Adam Elan-Elmegirab, Founder & Director of The House of Botanicals puts it: "In our daily operations and long term plans we've always known we were going about things the right way, in the context of considering other issues beyond our business and its need to make a profit, so our pursuit of B Corp certification was really just to affirm how we operate, as well as taking a deeper look into how we can improve what we do.

A 2021 report by Deloitte looking into the purchasing habits of UK consumers found that sustainable and ethical practices were equally valued across a broad range of goods. Reducing carbon footprint, sustainable packaging, waste reduction, a commitment to ethical working and human rights are all hugely important to consumers and they are looking to purchase products from companies that reflect the triple bottom line of people, planet, profit.

'For us, being B Corp Certified goes beyond 'just being a sustainably-minded brand'. 'Being B Corp' means you have deep-rooted ethics, and you believe your business can be a force for good, not just profit.' Says Gemma Wakeham, CMO at Two Drifters Distillery.

While still not as well-known as certifications such as 'Organic' or 'Fair Trade', BCorp is being increasingly recognised as the most important and marketable certification that a company can hold.

Christy McFarlane, Global Brand Manager at Bruichladdich says: 'Raising awareness of what being a B Corp means and continuing to get inspiration from other B Corp businesses is high on our agenda. We've been using it as a sign off in our communications since May 2020. For those in the know, it serves as validation of our ESG credentials and perhaps will peak the interests of those who haven't yet heard of the certification.

At Avallen we're so inspired by the BCorp community, and what we're really excited about is to see so many new spirits brands, both big and small, recently become certified. Since I began writing this article, to Avallen, Bruichladdich, Sipsmith, House of Botanicals, and Two Drifters to name a few, we've seen some of favourite brands in Nc'Nean, Sapling Vodka and Makers Mark join the club along with non-alc pioneers Pentire.

So let's raise a glass filled with BCorp spirit to those pioneering companies and the people behind them that are doing the hard work to not only make delicious liquids but are also being a force for good in the world.

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