3Keel becomes B Corp certified!

7th July 2020

We are excited to announce 3Keel is now a certified B Corporation! We wanted to share with you why we did it, and some reflections on our B Corp journey (so far).

Since our founding we’ve aimed to be a responsible business that excels beyond the minimum in all we do. It’s been very rewarding to see how this approach to both what we do for clients and how we develop our team has led to consistent growth in our scale and influence. But that growth has meant we needed to take a deeper look at how to really embed our values in how the business operates, and in supporting our team and community. This led us to looking into B Corp certification in late 2019.

Having identified the potential of B Corp to help us, it took about 4 months from start to finish – split roughly equally between time on our side to get our systems in order and time from B Corp to assess us. (Hat tips to 3Keel partner, Will, whose motivation and energy moved us from discussion to action, and to HR Manager Caroline, for creating an outstanding, thoughtful staff handbook which was instrumental to us getting the certification).

What we learnt from our application

A big part of the B Corp approach is promoting transparency, both within and outside the business. In that spirit, we wanted to share the good and less good findings from our assessment:

Where we did well
  • 108 points – one for the B Corp geeks… but given 80 points is the pass mark we scored very highly for a first assessment
  • Environmental – well, we hoped this would be the case! Given this is our purpose, and that we have our own house very much in order, we scored very highly
  • Employee benefits, training, and engagement
  • Inclusivity of the team in the strategy and management of the business
  • Support for our community through financial and voluntary time contributions
Where we need to improve:
  • Diversity – 3Keel’s senior management team is not as diverse as we would like. This is something we have been acutely aware of, and is front of mind for our development. As we expected, this was picked up and marked down in the assessment.
  • Formalising our purpose – B Corps need to demonstrate commitment to their purpose, and for us this means articulating our mission in the company’s legal documentation, which for an LLP like us is the Partnership agreement. We’ve already addressed this through amending our agreement.
  • Sourcing – we have placed environmental sustainability at the heart of our procurement decisions, but this shouldn’t be the only thing we focus on. As such, we’ll be diversifying our sourcing to also ensure we are supporting minority-led businesses throughout our community.
Reflections on B Corp

I’m sure that most readers will be well aware of the B Corp movement to varying levels (if not see a good precis here). However, now having moved from casual interest to active participants we’d have three observations to share:

  • Authenticity. Engaging with the B Corp team and application is thought provoking, giving a sense of the substantive requirements to make the cut. It raises fundamental questions about the organisation, rather than feeling like a tick box exercise.
  • Optimism. Global events can, at times, weigh heavily on sustainability professionals, and we know 3Keel provides a vehicle to respond as best we can. It feels like B Corp amplifies that sense of action, recognising and celebrating a community that is truly driven to a different way of doing business.
  • Commitment. Although still early in the process, we are set to jump in with both feet to learn from – and contribute to – the B Corp movement. We are hopeful that we will learn a lot and can add a great deal.
Next steps

One of 3Keel’s key partnerships is with innocent drinks, who are a leading advocate of B Corp, and their proactive encouragement definitely contributed to our decision to join the movement. Having now passed through, we see an advocacy role as an important contribution that 3Keel can play, particularly given how many organisations we engage through our consulting work. So, thank you to the innocent folks (particularly Roz and Simon!), and we will endeavour to pay it forward!

Secondly, there are a number of specific areas to address. Some of these we have done already – such as edits to the 3Keel Partnership Agreement to articulate our purpose – while others are ongoing programmes of work for the business, all of which will form part of our annual impact reports and reevaluation for B Corp in three years’ time.

Thirdly, we will be active members of the B Corp community. Within 3Keel we have established ‘crews’ who are responsible for progressing agendas ranging from career development to best practice project delivery to the values 3Keels sets and espouses. These crews provide a natural home to embed the B Corp movement, with our Supply Chain Analyst Sian working alongside Will and Simon to learn from and contribute to the movement as effectively as possible.

In conclusion, many thanks to the B Corp team for an enlightening start to our journey, and a message to any businesses considering this route: just do it!

Our partnership with innocent drinks, who are a leading advocate of B Corp, contributed to our decision to join the movement.