Midway through 2021 e-commerce jewellery retailer Wolf & Badger became the first online marketplace in the UK to achieve B Corporation status.

The certification is described on the B Corp website as: “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

“B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.” 

Advertisement

Given the increasing demands of consumers that the products they purchase and the businesses they buy them from are certifiably sustainable, B Corp status is a means of verifying that your company is compliant with the most stringent standards of ethical and environmental responsibility.

Now, Professional Jeweller has asked George Graham, CEO and founder of Wolf & Badger, to talk through every step of the process of achieving B Corp status.

How was the idea of achieving the B Corp certification conceived for Wolf & Badger?
Wolf & Badger has always been committed to a different approach to retail. In March 2021 we better articulated our approach through a set of 15 guarantees on our website, these cover everything from being carbon neutral to paying fair wages.

We use these guarantees on our brand product pages to signify the good work our brands individually do to create a better landscape for all stakeholders involved in retail.

Attaining B Corp was a part of our company goal of better articulating our purpose to customers and brands.

The Wolf & Badger New York store

How was the process generally? Was it difficult?
The process took a long time, well over a year, but the B Impact assessment is not something to be forgotten once a company is qualified, it is a guide for businesses to constantly improve their B Impact score, so the process is continuous.

The assessment was incredibly useful in helping us to grow sustainably and ethically.

How long did it take? (Were you successful first time around?)
It took just over a year and a half, the process involves feedback and improvement so there are no ‘first times’ or ‘last times’. It is a commitment to continuous improvement even after qualifying.

What were the requirements for achieving it?
The requirement for B Corp is a B Impact Assessment score of 80 and above.

Was there anyone to guide you through the process?
Yes, there are advisors at B Lab who help you through the process if needed, we did not hire an external consultant.

Does the initiative really hold companies such as yourself to account in regards to ethical and environmental standards?
Yes, reliably so. The process is rigorous, and there are non-negotiable elements which mean that a certain level of ethics is required to qualify.

How has having B Corp status benefited the business in the last six months since you achieved it?
It has helped us firstly by providing a framework for ethical and sustainable business practice against which to hold ourselves accountable.

Secondly, now that we are a B Corp we are part of a fantastic community of companies who share the same purpose driven values as us, with whom we can discuss common issues, and also with whom we can work, for example we have started to work with Fruitguys for office fruit after finding them on the B Corp directory.

Lastly, it has been very useful for our customers to understand that we have made a decided and significant commitment to being a part of a better future, making retail fair for all and fostering a conscious community of brands and consumers.

Now that you’ve achieved it, does it take a lot of work to retain it each following year?
You need to redo the assessment every three years, and yes, you need to constantly uphold the reasons you qualified for being a purpose driven company in the first place whilst also improving your business practice and therefore B Impact score.

Do you have any advice for other jewellery companies pursuing B Corp status?
Allow for the process to take a long time, it is not a quick fix, it is a genuine commitment to better ethics and sustainable business. Use it as a tool even if you don’t qualify.

Meanwhile, Victoria Waugh of V&V Consultancy, consultant to the jewellery industry, was awarded ‘B Leader’ status earlier this year.

This enables her to guide businesses through the process to becoming a B Corp company. Read more below:

New opportunity for UK jewellery businesses to achieve B Corp status