Is it strange to say that, when our B-Corp certification finally arrived in August, it didn’t feel like cause for celebration?
Announcing that whilst speaking publicly for the first time about our new accreditation, which confirms our commitment to progressive social impact and environmental stewardship, may seem counterintuitive; if we aren’t celebrating, why are we announcing it? But it’s complicated. Our business has been working in this way and operating with the sole purpose of building a better world for just shy of 20 years – and in some ways, the badge doesn’t earn us any stripes that we didn’t already wear with pride.
Yes - we put our environmental and ethical commitments to the test, and they stood up well. That is validating, but it’d be disingenuous to say that we were surprised by our certification. B-Corp says that most organisations would fail the assessment the first time, but we are, and always have been, determined to create a positive, sustainable legacy for Acre, for our society, and our planet by having influence and providing value to businesses who are ambitious to create change. If that’s what we do, it'd surely be more surprising had we not passed?
Our employees know that the thing that binds us all together at Acre is our sense of purpose; that we put our people and the planet on the same pedestal as profit and will continue to do so. Whilst certification is a great way to quantify our commitments, the true principle of striving for social and environmental impact within a commercial context sits within the hearts of our employees and at the core of our business, not in an assessment. If we look for a cause to celebrate this process – our team is where we find it.
Seeing the enthusiasm and passion from our global colleagues - not about being certified, but about now rolling up their sleeves, going over our accreditation, and asking, ‘What do we get to work on improving, and how can I help?’ has been incredibly moving. This curiosity and drive to be better is what makes Acre what it is, and what drives our success.
So, what’s next?
Certification has reinforced for us that we have work to do. Becoming accredited by B-Corp gives us a line in the sand. It is now up to us to continually improve and not just hit that threshold but go beyond it.
Having a structure to drive positive change and knowing that we will come out of the other side of our next assessment, in 2025, as a much more impactful organisation – adding more value to the community, our workers, and the environment – is something to be excited about. Driving continual improvement within and beyond the B-Corp structure, not just for Acre but for the organisations we work with, is what gets us all out of bed in the morning.
The changes we’ve been implementing from the day we decided to apply for certification have already made enormous strides for us as a business. We formally changed our articles of incorporation (the internal regulations by which Acre is governed) in 2020 – which means that the B-Corp philosophy sits officially at the heart of our company.
The assessment process itself highlighted changes we could make, or gaps in our processes, policies, or data, which have already propelled us forwards far beyond where we were when we submitted our application.
Standing alongside organisations like Patagonia and Innocent is something to celebrate. These firms demonstrate how a sense of purpose can be the rocket fuel that propels a business and its people to succeed. And it’s worth reminding ourselves that we are among the outliers that do this – only 750 organisations that have this certification in the UK and just over 5,000 across the globe.
We’re also grateful that any organisations looking for support in making their own transition to a more sustainable way of operating can now identify us as the clear partner to support them.
We aren’t just saying we understand your mission – we’re joining you on it.
An open letter penned by our CEO, Richard Wright, and our Founder, Andy Cartland.
For those with questions about becoming a B-Corporation, or curious about our journey to get to this point, please get in touch.