How are you celebrating B Corp Month?

We’re celebrating the trailblazing ACCA practices that have been certified as B Corporations

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Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are companies verified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. B Corps commit to positively impacting all stakeholders – workers, communities, customers and our planet. With over 6,000 B Corps globally, of which over 1,100 are here in the UK, this community strives for a positive impact on people and the planet as well as profit.

Of the UK B Corps, only a handful are accountancy practices and five of them are ACCA practices. Let’s find out a little more about each one.

James Lizars is the CEO of Thrive Accountants and an ACCA Council member
In 2020, at Thrive, we started our journey to make a positive climate impact, having already fully committed to prioritising positive impact for our clients and team from day one. Starting our B Corp journey was a natural progression, and we were thrilled to be certified in December 2021.

To me, it’s clear that making a profit and making a positive impact doesn’t need to be viewed as a trade-off. Instead, there’s a growing body of evidence to say that making a positive impact on your team, your customers, your community and the wider world makes a business more successful.

It can be argued that positive impact and improved profits are two mutually exclusive characteristics of good management. And whilst there are areas like employee engagement where the causal link to better business outcomes is proven, other areas like climate impact lean much more on correlation.

As accountants, we have an incredible opportunity to influence how businesses operate within our global economy. And, with this decade being pivotal for the transition to a low-carbon economy, more and more workers, consumers and regulators will give impetus to businesses considering and mitigating their impact on the planet.

Being B Corp certified sets us out as leaders in this change and, with a simple logo, communicates how I believe business should be conducted.

For profit, absolutely. But not profit at any cost. 

David Nicholls is a partner at Brett Nicholls Associates
Brett Nicholls Associates became certified as a B Corporation in February 2023.

The B Corp certification process is all about measuring and verifying your impact as a firm. The Impact Assessment is the tool for determining whether a business meets the high standards required to achieve B Corp certification. Across five impact areas (governance, workers, environment, community, customers) the business is asked around 150 questions about the way it operates. Questions are scored, and the threshold score to move on to the next phase is 80. The B Lab research suggests that businesses in our sector have an average score around 50.

This process could also reasonably be called ‘1,000 ways to improve your business’. It is challenging in many ways and made me think critically about (and change) some ways we work. The questions are then verified by a B Corp assessor, who seeks evidence for positive answers which have generated points. The basic principle is to evidence the good things you’re doing. If they’re not evidenced, they don’t count (and points disappear). This appeals to our audit training but hurts when we see points vanish in areas where we know we have good principles but poor evidence.

The overwhelming feeling I had at the successful completion of the assessment is that we can improve in so many ways, and this is just the start of a journey for us as a firm.

I encourage all business owners and leaders to considering exploring the Impact Assessment. I guarantee it will be thought-provoking, challenging and stimulating – whether or not you decide to continue towards certification.

Matt Portt FCCA is a director at Portt & Co
I founded my accounting practice in 2015 and first started thinking about making my business sustainable when my son was born. We are the last generation who can do anything about this crisis, and the first generation to have the tools.

While I have ambitions to help clients become more sustainable too, it is not a core goal or a service line at the moment. We aren’t there to preach to our clients. Our goal is to help them grow, and through that share our own experiences on our journey. In particular we do help our clients with things like non-financial reporting and tracking the data around non-financial KPIs that are very much linked to sustainability.

There are plenty of things small businesses can do to improve their sustainability. You start off looking at the simple things, then you look at your supply chain, and your consumers. For us, it is a day in, day out, step by step approach. This is a vibrant community that we want to be a part of.

Even if it doesn’t quite fit with your personal beliefs, it’s unlikely that you will multiply the value of your business in five years’ time if you don’t engage with sustainability.

Yogesh Patel is a director at Telic
Over the last couple of years Telic has been on a journey. We’ve worked hard on developing our strategy for the next five years which is all about small steps of improvement in our aim to promote business for good. This is woven into our brand message and daily activities. 

Becoming a B Corp has been a natural progression from that. Personally speaking, I am striving to do my bit for the good of people and planet and my interest in the circular economy (eliminating waste by reuse and regeneration) put me in the right frame of mind to want to gain B Corp certification for Telic.

We have found great value in our B Corp accreditation already. It serves as a sounding board for our daily business decisions here at Telic. If we feel that an activity, or even a prospective client, is in line with our B Corp commitment to better business for people and planet, we will move forward, but if it isn’t, we won’t. We are already aligning ourselves and finding that business is easier as a result. Essentially, it’s removing any doubt and enabling us to step forward with confidence and clarity.

Sarah Whale FCCA is the managing director of Profit Impact
Profit Impact provides sustainability strategy creation and integration services to small and medium-sized businesses – including accountancy practices – through coaching and a digital solution.

If you think as an accounting practice you have no impact then you’re wrong. Your impact is significant and it's your purpose to lead your clients to start the stampede to a sustainable way of doing business. 

Our consulting service provides a path to becoming part of the B Corp movement, which is building a sustainable, purpose-driven business community. Our team of experts will work with you to come up with your bespoke business strategy that creates a positive impact on the environment, your employees and your community.

We have four goals when working with a business owner:

  • creating a clear picture of how their business can become a driving force for good and develop the foundations for their own values-based future business strategy
  • an impact plan that matches the business's future purpose with its values
  • creating best practice policies and templates, supporting narratives, and videos for their in-house training
  • benchmark scoring of the business against other impact-led businesses in the same sector, region and size.

ACCA resources 

If this has whetted your appetite to find out more, take a look at these resources: