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Our B Corp Journey [Being inclusive and banishing E numbers!]

Welcome to the forth instalment of our B Corp Journal!

This journal entry will cover our quest to find natural colourings for our icing, and what we are doing in our efforts to be inclusive for both our team and our customers.

Natural Colouring:

In order to make beautiful biscuits and bakes, we need to have a whole range of colours available to us. In the past we have looked at natural colourings, but didn’t have much luck and therefore have stuck with ‘normal’ colouring – however these, as you may well know, are made up of all sorts of ingredients and include a variety of E numbers. We would really love to remove all E numbers, and in particular the ‘Southampton Six’ which are the ones that are deemed to have an impact on children’s concentration. You can find out more about food additives here. Natural colours are made from all sorts of ingredients – from apples and carrots to safflower and spirulina algae. These provide an edible rainbow, but without the depth and range that we are used to. It goes without saying that is important that we maintain the visual impact of our products, and we are on a mission to work out how we can do this through natural colours. One thing we have found out is that natural red and pink colours are sensitive to pH, and that the pH of icing is not their friend! We therefore need to find a way to add citric acid to both our royal (piping) icing and fondant in a way that does not change the taste or set, but that allows us to get the right colours. It’s all a bit complicated for our brains but we are working on it every day at the moment and are confident that early in the new year we will be able to switch at least some of the colours.

Whilst the colours themselves are of high importance, we also want to make sure that we work with suppliers who prioritise people and the planet – it is important to us that through our spending we support like-minded businesses wherever we can in order to keep pushing for a better world for all. This means that the plants used need to be grown in an environmentally sensitive way, and the people throughout the chain must be paid a living wage and treated well. I was really pleased when a company that makes promising colours was able to supply me with in-depth information on their environmental and social considerations, and that they are working to train all their supply farmers on regenerative farming. Hopefully we can make their products work for us as this is exactly the type of company we wish to do business with.

Diversity and Inclusion

Conversations around diversity and inclusion can be difficult and uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have them. As Dr. Tiffany Jana writes in The B Corp Handbook “Now is not the time…to get comfortable, tread lightly and sidestep the tough conversations”. In order to move forward, to be truly diverse and inclusive and create a space where people can truly be themselves at work, these conversations both within ourselves and with others are necessary. By this I do not mean you should ask someone from a marginalised group to tell you about their experience – this may just serve to cause them to relive difficult and traumatic experiences. Of course, if someone voluntarily tells you information and is happy to discuss that is a different matter – as with most things in life it is important to judge how all parties in the conversation are feeling.

Earlier in the year we had a training session for the whole team from Equality & Diversity UK, they do a range of courses both online and in person and are really fantastic. We all found it interesting and helpful and it encouraged conversations within the team about a range of factors. For example we realised that for Mother’s Day we promote our floral collections, and not other products such as the jar of tools. Of course there are plenty of Mothers out there who would much prefer to be wrestling with a spanner than arranging flowers, and moving forward we will be ensuring that our promoted collections are more reflective of our ethics.

If you’d like more information then Inclusive Employers have a variety of courses available, they also run National Inclusion Week during which there are some free webinars. For more information click here.

‘Blind’ Application Process

One thing we are working on is to try our hardest to make our job vacancies appealing for all. We do not want anyone to feel unable to apply due to their race, gender, sexuality, disability or anything else. We wholeheartedly want to be a place where every single person can be their complete authentic selves at work, and we understand that with a diverse range of people comes a much greater range of skill, knowledge and ideas. We recognise that currently we are all female, and predominantly white, and that this may be a barrier to prevent some people applying for jobs here.

One new thing we have implemented to help reduce any unconscious bias in our recruitment process is ‘blind’ recruitment. In the past job applications have gone straight to (the very lovely!) Alex who is our HR guru, and our founder, Rebecca. Moving forward I will be provided with a list of essential criteria for each vacancy. Applications will come to me, I will look at them and assess them next to the set criteria only. I will then anonymise the applications that pass by removing all personal information and giving them a number, and they will then be looked at by Rebecca, Alex and any other relevant team members before going to interview. I will also provide feedback to all unsuccessful applicants, which will hopefully help them moving forward.

This process is what will work for Honeywell Biscuit Co and we hope it will remove any barrier anyone may feel towards applying, and help ensure the process is fair to all. There are other more technical ways of anonymising applications but as we are a small business this is what we have chosen.

Christmas!!

There was no way I could publish a December journal entry without mentioning Christmas! Christmas is such a special time of year, and all being well this year it will be extra special as friends and family gather, hug and enjoy each others company. The thing with Christmas however is that consumption so easily takes over – if you are anything like me you desperately want to support small independent businesses, but time and cost create barriers. For me this is mainly done to lack of organisation, every year I plan to be more organised, then out of the blue December is upon me and I still haven’t purchased a single thing! You may have seen Holly & Co’s Colour Friday campaign, which was instead of Black Friday.

According to Holly & Co. if we each buy just one Christmas gift from independent businesses this year we’ll reallocate £2.7 BILLION between small businesses. That is a phenomenal amount of money that can be spent with small, conscious businesses rather than lining the pockets of those with less consideration for people and the planet. It can of course be hard to find things online or if you do not have access to independent shops but Not On The High Street and Etsy are wonderful for inspiration, and a quick Ecosia/online search will bring up many options for a more ethical Christmas. I love the reusable crackers from Peace With The Wild, on the face of it they are expensive and a gift has to be added but I am using them as a present that will be on the table, not a cheap decoration that will end up in landfill along with it’s cheap usually useless contents. I have purchased additional snaps as well so I can keep them for next year and won’t need to flap around last minute trying to find some.

The photo below includes my amazing parents, who taught us all from a young age that it is important to respect and care for people and the planet, not to waste unnecessarily, and to support small businesses wherever we can.

As always I hope this has been useful, and if you have any questions or suggestions please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you!

Laura

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