Becoming a force for good

25th of January 2024
Becoming a force for good

UK workplace and washroom hygiene service provider Simply Washrooms has been certified as a B Corporation (B Corp). This means it meets rigorous social and environmental standards which represent its commitment to goals outside of shareholder profit. Gemma Abbott tells us more about the process, the challenges and the benefits.

THE SIMPLY BUSINESS was founded on the belief that premium quality workplace hygiene services can and should be delivered ethically and sustainably. We’ve always believed in conducting business with a purpose beyond profits.

We’ve never made sustainability an add-on to our business - it’s at the heart of everything we do, and always has been. So becoming a B Corporation (B Corp) was a natural progression for us, and it has meant we’ve joined a community of like-minded businesses who also believe in using business as a force for good.

B Lab is the nonprofit network behind B Corp, transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. Building on its standards and certification process, its network leads economic systems change to support the collective vision of an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.

Its programs and tools help B Corps and non-B Corps plan for a resilient future - including multinationals looking to understand their social and environmental footprint - and B Lab’s policy work pushes for meaningful legal change around corporate accountability and social impact. A unified group of global, regional, and national organisations - known as the B Global Network - power the B Corp movement at local level.

There are now almost 7,800 B Corp companies in 92 countries worldwide, employing 705,590 people across 161 different industries.

Simply Washrooms’ journey towards B Corp certification was a valuable experience in itself. It helped us identify areas where we excelled in our sustainable practices, and also highlighted the areas in which we needed to make improvements.

Before embarking on the B Corp journey, we knew we were already doing a whole range of things, but we also knew we weren’t being rigorous or structured about how we measured or monitored them.

The certification process has given us a structured framework that helps us assess our impact comprehensively. It has also allowed us to evaluate our operations across various dimensions, including governance, workers, community, and the environment. As a result we have identified opportunities for growth and development that will benefit not only our business but also the stakeholders we serve.

A new community

Being part of a collective of companies with similar values and ethos through the B Corp community is truly powerful and we are already seeing the benefits. It allows us to connect with like-minded organisations that are driven by the same purpose and vision. The ability to share experiences, exchange ideas and collaborate with other B Corps amplifies our impact and contributes to a collective movement towards a more sustainable and equitable economy.
It has also opened up new business opportunities and partnerships that perhaps would not have been as easy to explore without the B Corp connection.

How being a B Corp impacts our stakeholders

For our customers, being a B Corp means they can trust that we are committed to operating ethically and sustainably. The certification provides independent verification that we meet rigorous social and environmental standards, giving our customers confidence they are doing business with a company that shares their values.

These days, we find the majority of our customers have their own environmental targets so working with Simply means they know they’re not only getting high-quality services, but we’re also helping them meet their own sustainability goals.

We use eco-friendly products and materials wherever possible, and we’ve implemented best practices to minimise waste, conserve resources and reduce our carbon footprint. This in turn allows our customers to reduce their own environmental impact and supports their own sustainability goals.

We’ve found that this shared commitment fosters a deeper level of trust and understanding between us and our customers, enabling us to work together more effectively across all areas of our business.

The B Corp journey has also made us look closely at our impact on the communities in which we operate. Simply has always emphasised the importance of giving back, but we hadn’t devoted much consideration to how we could do this in a targeted or meaningful way.

This process has seen us reassess our approach to giving and we’ve made significant enhancements - not only increasing the amount of time and financial resources we contribute, but also ensuring the causes we support are aligned with our business. By establishing a clear methodology for supporting local communities, we are able to maximise the positive impact we can make on those around us.

The final group of stakeholders that benefit from our certification is our employees. At Simply we provide a work environment that is supportive, fulfilling and aligned with our staff’s values and aspirations. This translates into greater job satisfaction, higher levels of engagement and ultimately, a more motivated and productive workforce.

Being B Corp-certified provides our employees with a sense of purpose and meaning, above and beyond their day-to-day work. We know this because our staff surveys tell us they take pride in working for a company that is committed to making a positive impact in the world.

The process has also triggered several new actions for the business which have positively impacted our employees. After becoming a Living Wage employer in April 2022, we also conducted a pay equity analysis by gender, and we began monitoring staff satisfaction more rigorously. We started new wellbeing and profit share schemes, which last year saw 100 per cent of staff receive a bonus, amounting to 5.2 per cent of profits.

Looking ahead

Being certified is really only the start of our B Corp journey. We’re committed to making progress towards our sustainability goals through continuous improvement and accountability.

Since we gained certification, we have further reduced our carbon footprint by implementing energy-efficient practices across our operations. We have also made significant progress in our efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling, both in our own facilities and through the products and services we offer our customers.

Every time we look at expanding or improving our product range, we make sure sustainability is one of the first considerations. For example we recently developed and added a bespoke fully recycled hygiene bin to our product range.  None of our sanitary waste goes to landfill - 100 per cent is recycled and the by-products are turned into renewable energy and aggregate for building roads.

B Corp certification has provided Simply with a clear roadmap for continuous improvement. The ongoing assessment and recertification process challenges us to set even higher standards and push beyond the status quo. By measuring our impact and striving for higher scores, we are constantly raising the bar for ourselves, fostering innovation, and finding new ways to make a positive difference in the world.

If you would like to find out more, our B Corp Impact Report is available to read here: www.simplywashrooms.com/bcorp-impact-report-2022.

To find out more about B Corp visit: www.bcorporation.net

 

Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited