Our penultimate speaker in our illuminate live reimagined series is Ruth Sturkey, client director at Paradigm Norton.
In this session, Ruth provides a brief overview of the certified B Corp movement, and chats to our guest editor Rohan Sivajoti of NextGen Planners about Paradigm Norton's journey through the certification process.
She considers the difference financial planning practices can make by using their businesses in a different way, and the "ripples of change" that can be created as a result.
Ruth shares some of the things Paradigm Norton were acknowledged for as part of certification, as well as some of the challenges and the work the firm still needs to do.
Below Ruth writes about the drivers behind wanting to become a B Corp in the first place, and how the process is keeping Paradigm Norton accountable over time.
The world is facing a series of challenges; climate change, inequality, pressure on resources, racism and of course, a pandemic.
We live in a time of division, injustice and populism. But there is hope.
The 1970s and 80s saw the rise of 'shareholder supremacy' fuelled by a seminal article by Milton Friedman, the American economist and Nobel prize winner, which decreed:
"The sole purpose of business is to maximise the value of the company for its shareholders."
It took the 2007/08 financial crisis to recognise the system wasn't working, and the gradual awakening of the need to change.
Since then we've seen a number of change initiatives.
These include the 2015 United Nations Paris agreement on climate change and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, which had at its heart 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The SDGs are designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
We also have the emergence of a new stakeholder capitalism, proving business can be both profit-making and a force for good.
A recent B Lab UK national poll showed that 72 per cent of the UK public believe business should have a legal responsibility to people and planet alongside maximising profits.
It also found that 76 per cent believe the current system either isn’t working or is harmful.
We can all play a part in a different future by using our businesses as a force for good.
Let’s talk BCorp
A certified B Corp is a new kind of business that balances profit and purpose.
B Corps have a legal requirement to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, clients, suppliers, community and the environment.
It's a community of leaders driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
There are over 360 B Corps in the UK which include The Guardian, Ella's Kitchen and Innocent Drinks.
In our sector B Corps include Maseco and First Wealth, with Cooper Parry Wealth (a fellow Illuminate live speaker) currently going through the accreditation process.
Worldwide there are over 3,500 B Corps including purpose driven companies such as Patagonia and Ben and Jerry’s.
Companies of any size, sector or legal constitution can certify; companies less than a year old can have ‘pending’ status.
The process starts with an initial B impact assessment with the questions determined by the company size, sector and market.
A robust verification process follows culminating in a change to a company’s articles of association and the signing of a declaration of interdependence. You can find out more about the certification here
Why Paradigm Norton chose to become a B Corp
Paradigm Norton chose to become a certified B Corp for a number of reasons:
- To codify the ‘Paradigm Norton way’, that is, our culture and values, and embed the legacy of our founders
- To imprint our people, planet, profit thinking into everything we do as we become part of the circular economy
- To hold ourselves accountable to using our business as a force for good
- To be transparent in the achievement of our sustainable goals
- To attract and retain the best purpose driven talent
- To attract purpose driven clients
- To do the right thing
It's worth emphasising we are at the start of our journey.
Yes, we scored enough points on the business impact assessment to achieve our accreditation, but we are challenging ourselves to do more.
We're reviewing all aspects of our business to include our mission statement, our carbon footprint and impact on the environment, as well as diversity, our relationships with our suppliers, how we interact with our community and our investment strategy.
We believe we all can, and should, play a part in reversing the most damaging impacts of our behaviour on our people and planet.
No longer can we conveniently ignore what we see around us. Once you know, you know. The time to act is now.
Will you join the challenge?