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Social’s Impact Chat with Annie Olivier

5th July 2023 By Social Invest
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In our latest Impact Chat, Social Invest Account Manager, Nishall Garala, speaks to Annie Olivier, Head of Growth at B Corp UK. B Corp is a certification for businesses that meet high standards of performance, accountability and transparency on metrics relating to social and environmental impact. In her role Annie is responsible for growing the community of B Corp organisations in the UK.

Below are some of the key talking points discussed in the webinar:

Public attitudes are changing

Annie noted that the growing B Corp movement has been driven largely by shifting public attitudes towards how businesses should be run.

She notes: “We recently did some research and found that around 77% of the UK adult population believes that business should have a legal responsibility to people and planet alongside profit maximisation.”

This is one driver which has seen the B Corp community double in the last year, according to Annie.

Investor attitudes are changing

The changing public attitudes towards how businesses operate have seemingly trickled down and are now impacting the way boards and executives run their businesses.

Annie explains that investors now see demonstrating your ESG credentials as part of “future-proofing and building resilience into a company”.

Sher explains: “[Investors] are really starting to look at a company’s ESG strategy and if they have third party certifications to verify what they’re saying.”

Annie also says that she expects this phenomenon to become more common in the future when new policies and regulations are introduced.

Covid-19 pandemic was a turning point for social impact

Annie discusses in detail the rising interest in social impact and ESG in recent years and highlights the Covid-19 pandemic as a particular turning point.

“When Covid happened, there was this explosion in the number of companies that were expressing interest [in becoming a B Corp]

“Covid almost gave businesses that pause and chance to reassess what their impact is, how they should be measuring it and how they should be managing it.”

Need more regional buy in

As Head of Growth for B Corp in the UK, Annie sets out the organisation’s plan to improve buy in over the coming years. One major area for growth she identifies is in the regions.

She says: “The key gaps that we’re looking at right now and where you’ll see a lot of our push is in regional distribution.

“A lot of B Corps right now are based in the South and London and we would really love to see this movement extend across the entire country.”

Key areas B Corp will look to expand into over time include the North West, Wales, East of England and the Midlands.

Nobody is perfect

Annie is clear that gaining B Corp certification is not the end of the process for organisations.

She says: “B Corp certification does not mean that a company is perfect. What it is saying is that a company meets high standards of social and environmental performance but also that they’re committed to continuous improvement.”

Annie explains that organisations need to recertify their B Corp status every three years so there is a need to always be aiming to improve.

She adds: “[Organisations] are never going to be perfect, and they always have to be pushing for continuous improvement and I think that is what sets B Corp certification apart from others.”

Click here to watch the Impact Chat in full.