Cornwall’s green and blue landscape, strong sense of community and commitment to achieving net zero ahead of the rest of the UK make it attractive to purpose-driven businesses focused on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
Many of the region’s businesses addressing their environmental and social impact have done so via B Corp certification.
B Corp Certification is awarded by not-for-profit, B Lab to companies that meet the high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. There are around 4,500 B Corps worldwide, 650 in the UK, and 21 in Cornwall.
Cornwall’s B Corp community is growing rapidly and includes a diverse range of businesses covering nearly every sector, from construction consultants like Ward Williams Associates – one of the highest-ranking B Corps in the UK, to iconic Cornish brands like Rodda’s. Cornwall’s B Corp Linkedin Group, BLOCAL Cornwall Plus is the largest of its kind in the UK.
Matt Hocking, of sustainable design agency, Leap was an early advocate of B Corp in the UK. His company was the first in Cornwall to receive the certification, and he has since helped many other companies through the process.
According to Matt, being part of the B Corp community means access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise from likeminded businesses, new opportunities and a ‘passport to anywhere’.
He told us:
“As a B Corp, we’re part of a rich community sharing the journey together. I’ve got access to 650 CEOs and I would feel comfortable ringing any one of them.
Pre-pandemic, I could travel anywhere in the world and a simple social post asking, ‘anyone want to meet up and talk B Corp?’ would result in some great connections. Now, any city I go to I generally say, ‘I’m here’, and businesses get in touch to arrange a meeting – often to learn more about B Corp.”
Leap’s B Corp Impact Business Model is Giving, and the company’s commitment to give a minimum 5% of its turnover every year through its Grant for Good has led to valuable relationships across the world.
Matt comments: “We’ve always had a Giving budget rather than a Marketing budget – it’s allowed a small business in Cornwall to be accessible to organisations all over the world, and we’ve worked in most continents because of it. The connections we’ve made have led on to some amazing impactful design projects.”
More and more B Corps are popping up in Cornwall, and Matt believes that by the end of 2023, the number of certified businesses in the region will be in the thirties, with many more nearing certification. A growing number of national B Corps are choosing Cornwall as the base for a second office.
Matt explains: “Progressive led businesses want an environment that allows their people to grow and thrive, and they also want to be supportive of the planet through their business in whichever way they can. Cornwall allows that kind of positive work/life balance for employees and a deep connection with the natural world around us and its placed based capital.
“Take Flexi-Hex – one of the latest B Corps to be announced in Cornwall; their reinvention of packaging came out of a love of surf anyway, and now hopefully we’ve got a global leader in packaging coming out of Cornwall.”
London-based Brand Activism Agency, Don’t Cry Wolf, set up a second office in Cornwall in 2021. CEO and Founder John Brown explains why he believes the region is so well suited to the B Corp psyche:
“For us, B Corp is a framework of how we should be operating in a really ethical manner as an organisation. It’s deeply important to me and every single one of my team that when we’re talking about the environment, we’re not just talking a good game but are actually taking real action to try and reduce our own carbon footprint.
“Cornwall is a thriving hub of sustainable development. I think it’s one of the most incredible counties in the UK for actually focusing on this net zero target, and investment in that is extraordinary.”
The noise and excitement around certification held by just 4,500 companies worldwide suggests the B Corp community will grow significantly over the next few years. In October/November 2021, more B Corps were certified in one month in the UK than in its first three years of certification.
If you’re interested in exploring B Corp for your business, the advice from Matt is to reach out to other B Corps in your sector – whether local, national or global. Cornwall’s Linkedin group is a good place to start.
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