B Corp Status Commits to Sustainability and purpose

Following the successful launch of amplifi, a community-led initiative which aims to help raise awareness of sustainability among local businesses, Victoria Usher of GingerMay and Tom Chown of Digitom tell Eileen Leahy about their commitment to the organisation and to being a B Corp accredited business…

Over the past few years the B Corp sustainability movement has steadily grown with now over two thousand UK businesses signed up as members.

The scheme, which originated in the US, provides certification for companies, both large and small, who meet the ‘high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability’.

B Lab UK is the body that approves accreditation here. On its website it states it is a non-profit network that is ‘transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities and the planet.’

Here in Tunbridge Wells there are a number of businesses who have already gained B Corp accreditation. They include Yoyo Design and Cripps Law Firm – with Jenny Kitchen from Yoyo and Pete Kenyon from Cripps going one step further by creating amplifi – a community-led initiative which aims to help raise awareness of sustainability among local businesses working in all sectors. 

Other B Corp businesses in Tunbridge Wells include GingerMay and Digitom. Here we speak to their respective founders Victoria Usher and Tom Chown about their companies and why they are committed to spreading the word about sustainability and social responsibility…

VICTORIA USHER,
FOUNDER & CEO GINGERMAY

Why and when did you start your business?

I previously worked at media and PR agencies that openly discriminated against working mothers and I was forced to return to work three weeks after my daughter’s birth or face dismissal. As a result, in 2010, I founded GingerMay, an independent PR and communications business, which puts people at the heart of the company and where flexibility is embedded into its DNA. 

Since then GingerMay has grown into a globally recognised, multi-award-winning agency specialising in integrated B2B technology and professional services communications. 

And who are the type of clients you have on your books?

We primarily work with clients in the digital and emerging tech sectors across the UK, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the US. However, we believe that supporting cleantech and sustainability-focused solutions is crucial to support the global fight against climate change, so are actively seeking to partner with more businesses in these industries. 

What makes you stand out from
the crowd? 

Our unwavering commitment to exceptional client service and the ability to deliver beyond traditional PR support. This is consistently reflected in the satisfaction and recommendation scores from our client surveys and high Net Promoter Score. This year, we went above and beyond supporting clients impacted by war zones, providing a flexible service to navigate challenging economic periods. Our mission to deliver exceptional results for our clients, protect the planet, and give back to our community in equal measure is a unique balance that we have managed to strike. 

Tell us about your B Corp journey… when and how did it begin – and why?

GingerMay was founded on the premise that businesses have a responsibility to positively influence their communities. From the start, we put our team front and centre of the business, giving back to the community, and protecting the planet. Pursuing B Corp certification was a natural progression of these goals. Our B Corp journey, which started in 2022, has allowed us to uphold even higher standards in five key areas: governance, workers, community, environment and customers. 

Why was it important for you to achieve B Corp certification?

It was essential as it signifies our commitment to ethical and purposeful business practices, which are increasingly important to our partners and the planet. We are proud that our agency’s ethos is recognised as genuinely sustainable and in line with the B Corp philosophy. It really has been worth the team’s hard work.

What kind of difference does it bring to what GingerMay offers?

Gaining B Corp status was a significant milestone for GingerMay, reflecting our commitment to the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility. GingerMay’s impressive score of over 50% higher than the 50 median score of applicants, underscores that we meet these high standards. This certification demonstrates our dedication to supporting clients, fostering a people-centric culture, and adopting a progressive approach to business.

For our clients, B Corp status underscores our shared values and commitment to sustainability and purpose. 

Do you think more local companies will want to gain B Corp status?

Absolutely. There are a number of local companies in the early stages of their B Corp journey that we have met during amplifi events. Their response is incredibly positive and it’s inspiring to witness fellow local businesses achieving B Corp certification. As awareness increases and the benefits of certification become more apparent, we anticipate a rising number of businesses in our community will seek to align with B Corp standards, promoting a collective commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

Why does this kind of certification status benefit our business community?

It fosters proactive collaboration and encourages higher standards of social and environmental responsibility. Initiatives like B Corp Month raise awareness both globally and locally, motivating other businesses to pursue certification and promote sustainable practices. By being part of this movement, GingerMay helps to create a ripple effect, inspiring other organisations to join the cause and contribute to a more sustainable and ethically conscious business environment.

www.teamgingermay.com

TOM CHOWN, DIGITOM

Tom Chown has run independent video production company Digitom here in Tunbridge Wells for the last 14 years. It gained B Corp status last year. Here Tom tells us more about his business’s USP and why he chose to seek this certification…

First let’s start with you telling us about your career so far Tom…

Before setting up on my own I was fortunate to work for some amazing broadcasters and production companies. They included working for the BBC here in Tunbridge Wells and for Bob Geldof’s Kent TV. That launched six weeks before BBC iPlayer at a time when the concept of watching content on a computer – let alone a mobile device – was unheard of. When Kent TV came to an end I founded Digitom and haven’t looked back since.

Can you tell us a little bit about what the work you do at Digitom?

We don’t specialise as such as we enjoy the variety of each project – it means no two clients are ever the same and that each week is different.  My team and I work with a wide range of public and private clients across many different sectors, but the big ones are charity, education, financial, healthcare and transport. Briefs can be as broad as creating recruitment and training films for British Transport Police, to a TV commercial or recruitment campaign for Horder Healthcare, down to a fly-on-the-wall Day in the Life series or national International Women’s Day campaigns for Stagecoach. 

What would you say is your company’s USP?

What makes us stand out in a competitive market is our approach to factual storytelling. All our clients have a very different story or message they want to capture so sitting down with them in front of a camera, helping them to feel relaxed before having a chat is often the best way to elicit their story. Then there’s a lot of fun to be had in the edit suite crafting the content into a compelling film that engages an audience.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a B Corp certified business?

In 2021 I became aware of an environmental initiative called Albert Sustainable but it transpired that as a microbusiness we were too small to verify our assessments. Towards the end of that year, Jenny Kitchen from Yoyo, told me about the global B Corp movement and how Yoyo were going through the certification process. The big differences between B Corp and Albert is that the former measures impact on the planet and uses business to help enable change and prioritise people and community over profit. The best part was that anyone can apply for certification, from microbusinesses to multinational businesses.

Why was it important for you to gain this status?

I spent a lot of time reflecting on how the business had grown organically, and quickly realised the majority of content we’d produced had ‘purpose’ deeply rooted in its values. From the kids’ animation series encouraging food waste recycling, to the environmental decisions we were naturally making like investing in an electric vehicle and using a green energy supplier. All these initiatives counted towards our certification score of 96.7 in June 2023. It also started the conversation about how we can improve and share knowledge with a global community. 

Do you think more local companies will want to gain B Corp status?

I hope they will, there is a growing B Corp community within both Kent and Sussex. When we certified a year ago there were around 1,500 businesses in the UK. A couple of months ago that number exceeded the 2,000 figure as B Lab UK – who administer the scheme – have invested heavily in more resources to help process the growing number of applications.

Why does having B Corp status benefit our business community?

If another business in our community aligns with the same values as B Corp then I think obtain certification helps to verify our business community and instils confidence. The point is businesses of all sizes are giving some time and thought to how they treat their people, reduce their impact on the planet and help the local community. 

www.digitom.tv

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