North East B Corp meetup

SPECIAL FEATURE: North East B Corps unveil strategies for making meaningful impact

To celebrate B Corp Month 2024, Bdaily has sat down with some of the North East’s most prominent B Corps to find out how these people-driven businesses are creating a positive impact, both regionally and on the wider national stage as the B Corp continues to become one of business’ most desirable accreditations. Read on to find out more…

Nicki Clark OBE, Chief Executive UMi

Since 2007, UMi has made it easier for more than 600,000 businesses to do more and go further, with the best information, expertise and finance. Helping to distribute more than £300m in grants and loans, leverage more than £650m of private sector investment and facilitate contract wins worth more than £185m.

Share how you are still setting new goals to grow your impact

When considering our business objectives for 2024/25 and beyond we are attempting to align all of our strategic actions to deliver an outcome which is aligned to the 5 B Corp themes and also some of the UN sustainability goals.

Share your top goal for this year, or a long term goal for the next 5-10 years

To have helped over 1m businesses do more and go further by taking the hard work out of finding and using the best information, expertise and finance.

Share one of the goals you’ve just met, but plan to exceed

We hope that through our investment in the infrastructure at our Durham office we will have accelerated the anticipated improvement in our TCO2 measure.

Rob Charlton, CEO, Space Group

Established in the North East of England in 1956, Space Group comprises four businesses: Space Architects, BIM Technologies, bimstore and Twinview. Operating within the Built Environment sector, they all use technology and innovation to improve the design, construction and operation of buildings.

Share how you are still setting new goals to grow your impact

When we made the decision to become a B Corp, it was crucial for us that this wasn't merely a checklist exercise for accreditation. 

Instead, we viewed the assessment process as an opportunity to audit our current practices, identifying areas of strength and areas for improvement without altering our fundamental approach. Joining a community of like-minded organisations was also a priority for us. 

Our business planning operates on a three-year cycle, with our most recent plan, "Rethink23," finalised last year. Building upon that foundation, we've now developed our vision and strategy for the next three years, titled "Impact 26." Our strategy is centred around maximising our positive impact as a business.

Share your top goal for this year, or a long term goal for the next 5-10 years

Our vision is to "design buildings that benefit society and have a positive impact on our planet and its resources."

Given that buildings contribute to 39 per cent of all greenhouse gases through their construction and operation, we recognise our significant role in mitigating global warming. We challenge ourselves in every aspect of our work to minimise our environmental footprint and maximise our positive impact.

Continual investment in research in this area underscores our commitment, and as part of being a B Corp, we have dedicated ourselves to advocacy through our annual Shift Conference.

Share one of the goals you’ve just met, but plan to exceed

We set a target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2023 using Science Based Targets, a milestone we successfully reached.  However, we are now aiming to become a zero-carbon company by 2030. 

Although this goal is several years away, we acknowledge the significant challenge it presents. Achieving this will necessitate fundamental changes in our behaviours and close collaboration with our partners.

Graham Purvis, MD, Robson Laidler Accountants and Business Advisors

Robson Laidler is an award winning accountancy and business advisory firm whose mission is to “make a positive difference to people’s lives”.

Share how you are still setting new goals to grow your impact

The B Corp framework provides us with the guide rail for continuous improvement in making a positive difference to all of our stakeholders. It aids us in setting measurable goals across the five pillars of clients, community, environment governance, and workers.

Share your top goal for this year, or a long term goal for the next 5-10 years

As previously mentioned, rather than focusing on one particular goal, we look for incremental improvements across the entire scope of our business and the stakeholders it serves. 

But as everyone is aware we are facing an existential climate crisis and we must continue to do as much as we can to address that. Therefore we will do further work towards reducing our carbon footprint as a business as well as being better advocates in raising the awareness of our internal and external stakeholders around climate action.
Share one of the goals you’ve just met, but plan to exceed

One of our targets was to revise our procurement process to consider climate impacts in purchasing. We achieved this by introducing a new purchasing policy, which considers the performance of the item against its social and environmental impact and cost, and we now favour suppliers who share our principles and vision for a better world. 

We plan to exceed this by increasing focus on our supply chain and our wider client base in terms of reinforcing the messaging about B Corp and its benefits, sustainability and responsible sourcing. 

We also feel this starts from within so we will make it mandatory for all staff to complete B Corp training and have access to carbon literacy training. We will also prioritise circular economy principles, when considering purchasing equipment in the future and the impact of that on our carbon footprint.

Mandy Barker, Founder and Co-Director, Sail Creative

Sail is a design and communications agency working with those who are looking to have positive social, environmental and economic impact.

Share how you are still setting new goals to grow your impact

As a micro business, our impact comes into our every day and everyone on the team plays a part, as well as our clients, community and network of associates. It is ingrained within the projects we choose to work on, who we choose to work with, the initiatives we undertake and the way we work with clients and communities. 

It’s about doing the right thing, not the easy thing, and being advocates to injustice where we can. 

We regularly look at world events: political, community and climate, and are always discussing as a team how to be better allies, how to make decisions that benefit everyone and how the role of our work plays an important part in communicating positive social change.

Towards the end of 2024 sees us rectifying as a B Corp, so we will be continuing to formalise our goals throughout the year.

Share your top goal for this year, or a long term goal for the next 5-10 years

We would like to start implementing 360 degree feedback across the team, that brings in our clients and stakeholders. This means clients' views are valued, and that we get a holistic view of each team member rather than just performance/target driven. 

We also have a strict criteria of the associates we work with, working with B Corps or similar, to ensure we are working with organisations that have like minded values.

Share one of the goals you’ve just met, but plan to exceed

We’ve managed to get down to a four-day work week. That has been a long term goal and has been transformative for team morale and wellbeing, and caused no issues with work delivery.

We come back after a three-day weekend energised, refreshed and ready to deliver quality work. We will constantly be looking to further this life balance through initiatives such as a wellbeing budget, more holidays and personal growth.

Phoebe Payne, Social Media Manager, Rheal Superfoods

Rheal is on a mission to encourage everyone to live a healthier, happier life through the power of superfoods. Its current ‘impact score’ sits at 91.

Share how you are still setting new goals to grow your impact

  • Improving Health & wellbeing
  • Reducing Environmental Impact
  • Ethical Business Practices

Share your top goal for this year, or a long term goal for the next 5-10 years

Our top goal for 2024 was our electricity to be 100 per cent from renewable sources which we have already met! Amongst many other goals to improve our impact score, we’re always looking for ways for our warehouse to become more efficient and environmentally friendly along with recording all of our waste and diverting 100 per cent of it to landfill/recycling.

Share one of the goals you’ve just met, but plan to exceed

We are a partner of Ecologi and we intend to explore further charitable partnership opportunities - to work alongside our current partnership with Ecologi. During our next financial year (November - October) we intend to plant over 200,000 trees with Ecology but based on our sales forecast we should definitely surpass this figure.

Jessica Williams, Founder and Managing Director, Just Williams Sales Academy

Just Williams is an impact-led sales and marketing agency.

Share how you are still setting new goals to grow your impact

Annually off the back of our Impact Report, we redesign our business objectives and set KPIs around the five B-Corp pillars for the year. 

This year our focus is around reducing our landfill and  travel levels by 25 per cent, Increasing our charity partner and community engagement through our Yorkshire Three Peaks CEO day out , increasing our local supply chain and collating more feedback and engaging in forums with our customers.

Share your top goal for this year, or a long term goal for the next 5-10 years

In the next few years both businesses will go through independent recertification with our aim to achieve a 10 per cent increase on both businesses. We have a comprehensive scope of projects across all aspects of the B-Corp pillars to work on and implement over the coming years.

Share one of the goals you’ve just met, but plan to exceed

I’m really proud of our recent partnership with Catalyst, Stockton. Having won their Business Community Impact Award in 2023 , they have become our Charity Partner for 2024/ 2025. 

We have recently launched a joint managed fund with an aim to raise 25K over the next year to support a broad range of Stockton based charities. I’m proud how all of the team have become ambassadors for the cause and how passionate we all are about using the Business as a Force for Good.

Hugh Welch, Senior Partner, Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP is a leading UK independent commercial law firm. Based in Newcastle upon Tyne and Penrith, it’s been supporting clients throughout the North East & Cumbria, nationally and internationally, for over 100 years. The firm is guided by values of trust, teamwork, responsibility and care.

Share how you are still setting new goals to grow your impact

Whilst becoming a Certified B Corp is a wonderful endorsement of all that we have and are still doing,  our goal in applying for B Corp was always for it to be a catalyst for us to increase our efforts. This isn’t just a tick-box exercise for us, we started this process because we want to be held more accountable and continuously improve.

We have an internal B Corp steering group set up to make sure that we’re consistently looking at ways to get better, whether that’s collaborating with and learning from other regional B Corps or looking at initiatives and processes to increase our scores, in both areas where we’re already strong such as community giving and areas where we have more work to do, such as sustainability.

Share your top goal for this year, or a long term goal for the next 5-10 years

Our overarching goal is to increase our score by 10 per cent when we’re reassessed in the next 3 years, so there’s a lot of other goals that feed into that. Volunteering and pro bono is a huge one for us. Everyone who works at Muckle gets two paid for volunteering days a year, but just under 50 per cent of people actually use them.

Feedback has been that finding a volunteer project to take part in that fits people’s skills and interests can be a challenge, so a few years ago we introduced OnHand, an app that allows people to sign up for opportunities on the spot and we’ve seen a fantastic take up.

We recently launched a Muckle impact competition, where teams across the business compete to win points over the next six months, with the winning team getting £1,000 for a charity of their choice.

Share one of the goals you’ve just met, but plan to exceed

Having a greater impact in Teesside and Cumbria is something we set out to do a while ago, and we’ve come a long way in the last two-three years, particularly with the grant work we do with our Muckle Fund at The Community Foundation.

We give 1 per cent of our profits annually to the fund and we’ve made significant grants in both Teesside and Cumbria, as well as raising over £12,000 for two Cumbrian charities, Jigsaw and Carlisle Youth Zone, in 2023. 

We want to do more. Working closely with our clients and business partners in those areas to identify opportunities to increase our grant giving, volunteering and pro bono work.

Graham Odds, Chief Strategy Officer, Scott Logic

Scott Logic tackles complex, business-critical problems for some of the world’s largest institutions, across a range of industries.

Share how you are still setting new goals to grow your impact:

As an organisation that creates bespoke software for our clients, we believe we have a responsibility to support them in shaping and driving their approach to technology sustainability. 

That’s why one of Scott Logic’s current focuses is on rapidly maturing the methodology used by our industry to measure and mitigate the environmental impact of digital technology.

We have recently announced the proposed Technology Carbon Standard to provide organisations with a lens through which they can analyse and measure the carbon emissions of their technology estates in a standardised manner. 

The Standard builds on the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol’s established foundations while providing a practical, contextual framework for productive conversations between sustainability stakeholders, technology leadership and practitioners. 

We believe that truly sustainable software is financially, ethically, operationally and environmentally sustainable, and we are working at the forefront of our industry to develop and share the practical methods of achieving this goal.

Our Partners