6 August, 2021
Until recently, B Corp status was largely the preserve of smaller organisations, particularly those that are able to easily trace and evidence their impact. It’s probably no surprise that companies like Patagonia, Bulb and The Big Issue (and Good Business!) are part of the 3,000 strong global community of businesses that have made a commitment to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, governance and accountability.
But you don’t have to be small to be good, and an increasing number of larger companies are receiving the coveted designation. Many companies are part of larger corporate structures – Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation are part of Unilever, and three of the four members of the Natura & Co family – The Body Shop, Natura and Aesop – all have B Corps status, as does Natura itself, with the fourth member, Avon, committed to achieving it by 2025.
This week saw another illustrious addition to the B Corps family – none other than bankers to the Queen, Coutts. Coutts, which is part of the NatWest Group, isn’t the first bank to achieve this – Triodos and a number of community banks in the US already have B Corp status – but it is one of the highest profile.
This is no small achievement. The verification process is extensive and for banks, where significant impacts arise through lending, there are additional layers of complexity. But the rewards for society are considerable. Financial services companies connect every part of modern life, and through their financing decisions they can drive change in a way that few other organisations can. For Coutts, this is demonstrated in its recent commitment to supporting its clients to make sustainability part of the way they operate, through helping them assess their carbon footprint and meet climate commitments, and through products such as green mortgages and offsetting. And with the richest 1% contributing twice as much carbon as the poorest half of the world’s population, there’s going to be no shortage of work ahead for the bank.
By Claire Jost