I am an analyst and a passionate member of the sustainability team at 4C Associates. 4C joined with the rest of the B Corp community in March to celebrate being a B Corp and raise awareness of how businesses can be a force for good. I sought out a conversation with one of the UK’s industry wide leaders of B Corp – innocent drinks, to uncover their strategy for success.

When B Corp launched in the UK, it gained attention in the business industry with organisations seeking to gain certification that independently endorsed their credentials. Being certified distinguishes those companies who are simply using savvy marketing and greenwashing rhetoric, from those genuinely committed to driving positive social and environmental change. A company must complete a rigorous assessment, commit to B Corp’s legal requirements, and sign a declaration of interdependence to qualify as a force for good. Additionally, the challenging process must be repeated every 3 years to recertify. B Corp are serious about doing good for the community, environment, and the economy.

The smoothie company innocent drinks was one of the first advocates of B Corp. innocent drinks exists ‘to make natural, delicious food and drink that helps people and the planet live well and die old’.  In 2018, innocent drinks were amongst the first 150 companies in the UK to gain the B Corp stamp of approval.

I interviewed the Content & Engagement Manager of innocent drinks, Estelle Gayout. She spoke to me about their B Corp Journey and what it means to be a member of their ‘Force for Good’ team. She highlights the benefits of B Corp and shares her top tips for gaining and maintaining certification.

What made innocent drinks want to become a B Corp?

We decided to become a B Corp in 2018. At the time it was still a relatively small movement with around 150 members, but we’re committed to being a responsible business and for us it’s all about balancing people, planet, and profit. We wanted to be part of a group of organizations that have made the same commitment. Being able to do this with a group of other businesses means that we can inspire wider change.

Having the B Corp stamp of approval means our drinkers know when they buy  one of our smoothies that we have been assessed against some of the highest environmental and social standards. They can be confident that we are really looking at how we can be a responsible business and that we’re on that journey of positive change. B Corp says to consumers that if you are buying from innocent drinks then you are supporting a brand that puts people and planet at the heart.

What was learnt from the accreditation process, and what advice would you offer to an organisation embarking on this journey? 

I would recommend getting the buy in from your board of directors as well as everyone in the company at the very beginning of your journey. It’s very important for everyone to understand why you are becoming a B Corp. Whether it’s the first time certifying, or you are recertifying, you should make sure that everyone is on board and that it is not the responsibility of one person or a business function. 

“The advice that I would give to anyone thinking about certification would be to make sure you’ve got the right people to support the process”

We have a cross-functional team that we refer to as “B keepers,” that help to collate all the information and data. Part of their role is to talk about the sustainability plans to the rest of the business to get everyone on board. As part of our annual objectives, everyone in the company chooses a force for good role in B Corp or sustainability.

I was incredibly impressed with innocent drinks high B-Corp score (innocent drinks set their target of meeting 100 points by 2023, but had already achieved this by 2021). How did you manage to achieve such a high score in B Corp and what plans do you have to improve it even further?

We were so proud to achieve 105 points when we were certified again in 2021. It’s been absolutely incredible. During the three years between becoming B Corp and recertification, we had to make sure that we continued looking at how we can improve, and we agreed on our focus for the next recertification. 

“We had to make sure that we continued looking at how we can improve, agree on our focus for the next recertification and ensure all the data and evidence was retained, stored and accessible.”

We also ensured all the data and evidence was retained, stored and accessible. We created an annual impact report to ensure that we are transparent on data. We implemented a committee that we call ‘The All Rounders’ who review our processes and systems to ensure we are doing things the right way with the right governance. The B keepers are always looking at different areas of the business for ways to gain extra points and consider possible improvements which can be made for the next time we are certified.

Finally,  what stands out for you personally as your proudest achievement?

it’s definitely the blender, our new all electric carbon neutral factory that we have built in in Rotterdam. It’s one of the world’s first Carbon neutral factories, which is quite impressive. It’s currently run on renewable energy from the grids, but we are working towards having our own electricity sources such as on-site solar panels and wind turbines that will power the factory. Constructed from sustainable and locally sourced materials, we have achieved the most sought-after ranking, ‘BREEAM Outstanding’ for the development of the blender. Sustainability has been at the heart of the whole blender strategy, and it is an incredible example of what we are doing to inspire wider change because it hasn’t been done before.

4C Associates are proud to be one of the first 1000 companies to certify as a B Corp in the UK. We have joined a global network of businesses whose unified goal is to transform the global economy into an inclusive, transparent, and enriching system.

Let’s celebrate B Corp month by raising the profile of a fantastic initiative and encourage even more to join our club.

As a B-Corp accredited business 4C have invested heavily in Sustainability for ourselves, our suppliers and working with our clients. If you would like to speak to an expert in this area, please reach out to our Partner, Allison Ford-Langstaff Allison.ford-langstaff@4cassociates.com. There is nothing we like better than a chat on Sustainability and how to create prosperity for all.