Optimised Energy's Head of Operations, Roy Bidder, explains why B Corp certification is a vital part of demonstrating that sustainability is at the heart of what we do.
Does sustainability have a bit of a perception problem?
The benefits of ESOS, SECR can be enormous, but when legislation, cost savings, tax benefits and grants are part of the conversation, I always get the feeling that the public perception is that businesses are making these changes because the law tells us to, or because it boosts the bottom line.
Of course, legal compulsion and cost benefit are handy motivators, but increasingly we’re talking to companies whose starting point isn’t that there’s money to be saved (although invariably, there is); their position starts with social purpose. They want to find cleaner, more environmentally friendly ways to work because they passionately believe it’s the right thing to do.
Which is fortunate. Because so do we.
Be good. B Corp
Optimised Energy are committed to being sustainable - not in a ‘chuck in the odd environmental policy for the CSR’ sort of way (so called ‘greenwashing’) but because we’re a responsible business and we feel a responsibility to our people and, at the risk of sounding twee, our planet.
That’s why we’re joining thousands of businesses worldwide in becoming B Corp certified. B Corp certification is the only holistic assessment of a business’ sustainability. It’s a rigorous process which examines our entire social and environmental performance, including our workers, community, environment, customers, supply chain, employee benefits and more.
Crucially, accreditation isn’t simply a reflection of the standards we achieved at the moment of assessment; B Corp certification commits us to build on what we’re doing now so we do more for all our stakeholders in the future.
The competitive advantage in doing good
Putting sustainability at the heart of our business model might be seen as a risk. There are plenty of examples of companies who have made a genuine commitment to sustainability and seen profits rise. But there are some for whom, whatever the value in sustainability, the benefits haven’t made it as far as the bottom line.
Still, there’s growing evidence that acting according to your values is an increasingly well-rewarded strategy. PwC’s Workforce of the Future(1) report found 88% of millennials (a group who will make up 75% of the world’s workforce by 2025) want to work for an employer whose values reflect their own.
A few years ago, a Japanese study(2) found that dogs can detect insincerity. You could extend that to customers. The mere whiff that you’re not practising what you preach; that sustainability is a profit smokescreen – that you don’t really mean it – is something customers seem to have an innate ability to sniff out.
As Director(3) noted recently, “A true purpose-driven business will have fundamentally changed its DNA and will not look, smell or act anything like a traditional business.”
Which is easier said than done – especially when you’re an established company. For our part, sustainability has always been part of our DNA, so B Corp certification has been part validation of what we’re already doing - we have, for example, already set up a specific sustainability team who are leading and driving a number of initiatives – and part a powerful indicator of what more we can do.
But we start from the position of meaning it. We really are committed to delivering long-term value for our clients and our employees through a clearly defined sustainability strategy. And we really are keen to ensure that we continue to operate responsibly, improving staff health and wellbeing, whilst reducing our own and our clients’ impact on the environment.
Helping our clients do good
We’re aiming to achieve B Corp certification by the end of the year, yet in a strange way, it’s almost easier to help our clients improve their sustainability than it is to focus on our own, because that’s where our expertise lies. Reducing energy waste. Green energy procurement. SECR and ESOS compliance. They’re all at the heart of what we do every day.