To mark B Corp month we’ll be diving into each of the five sections of the B Impact Assessment (BIA). This time it's Communities. Last time we explored how B Corps measure their environmental impact and we now turn to the ways in which positive social impact are captured in the BIA.
We like to think that this section gives businesses the opportunity to describe how they have a wider influence on the communities in their network; those groups of people that you might not consider as your direct stakeholders. Imagine society holding up a mirror to your business — what image would be reflected back? Hopefully it’s one that shows you understand your place in the world and the wider responsibilities that running a better business brings. The BIA acknowledges some of the structural inequalities and barriers that still exist today and asks prospective B Corps what they are doing about it. There are four dimensions to the Communities Section that capture your social impact.
Let’s take a look at what’s involved:
Community Impact Area Introduction
Some companies deliberately set out to tackle a social problem or benefit a particular group that is disadvantaged in some way. If that sounds like you then you’ll get an immediate opportunity to declare what you do in this area — expect to be asked further questions about who you help, in what ways and how you know.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Societal inequality takes many forms and the commercial landscape can both reflect and reinforce it. Before you can determine the ways that you are best placed to tackle inequality a preliminary step is to understand the different groups of people that make up your company. You’ll be asked about diversity in the workforce, amongst your management and the boardroom, and your suppliers too. There are some questions about how inclusive and equitable your business is as well.
All businesses have costs but do you ever think about who you spend your money with? By simply existing as a commercial entity you can have a positive impact on the local economy through ownership, employment opportunities, supplier spending and banking.
Civic Engagement and Giving
Making donations to charity is nothing new but if your business model includes philanthropic giving in some way, here’s where you can talk about it. There are, of course, plenty of other non-financial ways your company can spread positive influence through communities. Whether that’s direct volunteering, advocating for higher standards in your industry, contributing to relevant research or participating in public forums on environmental or social topics you’ll be rewarded for undertaking activities like these.
Supply Chain Management
Your supply chain can potentially be a significant part of your overall environmental and social impact. If you want to truly understand that impact then you’ll need to find out some information about your suppliers as well as yourselves. There is an opportunity here to screen your suppliers, perhaps by holding them to the same standards as yourself or encouraging better practices. In common with other parts of the BIA if, through your supply chain, you set out to improve the lives of a particular group in society — by alleviating poverty for example — through your business model then the positive impact you create will be recognised.
A dose of inspiration
One B Corp that places communities at the heart of everything it does is Semble. They bring together businesses and community groups — over 3,000 so far — to support grassroots projects all over the country by helping them to access funding or grants, or running campaigns. Semble believes that social transformation is best achieved by equipping and resourcing the people who are already on the front line in their local communities. There is a myriad of different projects that are helping people to make a positive impact where they live. If you want to see how business can enable this, then check them out and be inspired!