Switchee has made it one of our goals this year to become a certified B Corporation. We believe that will make Switchee the first social housing organisation to become a B Corp! It’s a huge honour and a big responsibility to bear, but we’re proud that we’ve been able to make the commitment.
So what is a B Corp?
B Corporation certification is to business what Fair Trade is to coffee or Soil Association is to milk. It’s a holistic certification for responsible and sustainable businesses, assessing all elements of the business – Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. B Corp Certification doesn’t just evaluate a product or service; it assesses the overall positive impact of the company that stands behind it.
A B Corp business, therefore, is one that can be trusted to make decisions that align with the core values of sustainability and responsibility. All B Corps are looking to accelerate corporate progress towards a sustainable future where businesses take active responsibility for their impact and look to improve the world.
The certification aligns operations with brand values and identity. B Corp embeds positive social and environmental ideals into the DNA of the company, rather than just being tokenistic. They do this by requiring the business to make a legal change so that the business commits to the triple bottom line. There is no hiding in the B Corp impact assessment; the questions really interrogate down into the depths of every aspect of the business. If you pass the score threshold to become B Corp certified, you know the business takes sustainability and responsibility seriously.
Because the certification is an audit of every element of the business, you will inevitably see cost savings in environmental management areas. If your workers, customers and suppliers are happy, your business will naturally be a more productive, efficient and pleasant place to work.
Why is Switchee doing it?
Ultimately, because we want to have a positive impact on the world and use our business as a force for good. The ideals from our B Corp accreditation will trickle down to our entire supply chain, staff, customers and users - who will all see that business can be a force for positive change.
At Switchee we talk a lot about our social mission. Our own mission statement is “Switchee exists to improve the lives of people living in rented accommodation”. Surveys show both resident and landlord satisfaction is high with Switchee. Aside from our awards and public sentiment, however, we currently have no way of objectively proving our commitment to being a business that exists to do good. Becoming B Corp Certified aligns our operations with our core brand values. It embeds the positive ideals mentioned earlier into the DNA of our company rather than just being tokenistic. B Corp does this by requiring the business to make a legal change so that the business commits to the triple bottom line.
There is no hiding in the impact assessment; the questions really interrogate down into the depths of every aspect of the business. If you pass the score threshold to become B Corp certified, you know the business takes sustainability, governance, community and responsibility seriously.
Over the years, Switchee has done a fantastic job raising capital from impact investors. Five years ago, the concept of impact investing was still in its infancy - with impact VCs being relatively few and far between. However, the last couple of years has seen an explosion in demand for ESG investments. By being B Corp certified, Switchee will now be able to access more ESG/Impact capital - helping us to grow further and faster.
B Corp will also help us to attract the best talent. More and more people want to work for a business that cares about more than just its profits and shareholder returns. They want to work for a business that has a positive impact on the world and treats its employees well. Becoming a B Corp will allow Switchee to show off our company culture through more than just the interview.
What are we changing?
The assessment is broken down into five categories:
Environment - We have changed a number of our policies to encourage good environmental stewardship across the company. We now encourage workers to switch to renewable energy suppliers. We are working on having a more sustainable supply chain and we are working on improving the end-of-life programme for Switchee devices.
Governance - Switchee’s legal entity is already ‘mission locked’ following previous investments rounds, but we are looking to improve our governance further by introducing impact training for management and greater transparency in our impact reporting.
Customers - We are making public targets for customer (landlord as well as resident) satisfaction and we are working towards ensuring our suppliers are subject to quality assurance reviews.
Community - We are making commitments to donate more of our revenue to charities. We are also writing policies to commit to diversity and inclusion, making sure that outsourced staff are accountable to our formalised code of conduct and writing a supplier code of conduct.
Workers - This has easily been our best performing category. The employee benefits at Switchee are already brilliant, however, there are one or two things we are going to do to be even better. This includes tighter health and safety policies and longer training for new hires.