Welcome to the third instalment of our B Corp Journal!
I am very excited to announce that we have submitted the B Impact Assessment – it is by no means the end of the road but it is a huge milestone and one to be proud of. This blog also discusses the importance of team wellbeing and one of the tricky decisions we have faced.
Submitting the BIA:
Submitting the B Impact Assessment (BIA) is a big deal. It is the result of a lot of learning and hard work, and feels like a real achievement. We had been close to submission for a couple of weeks, lingering around the 76 mark (you need to score 80 or above to submit), and when I went through the BIA again, checking the answers to each question we crept up to 80.6. I was so excited but also really nervous – it might sound ridiculous but I am a cautious person and am scared of saying the wrong thing to then get marked down. I do know this is silly though, and it currently takes around 8 or 9 months for the review process, so I am continuing to work to improve our score in that time. It is common for companies to lose up to 5 points, so I am aiming to get to at least 86 by the time the review commences (we are now at 81).
Although another 5 points doesn’t sound like much, if you have looked at the BIA you will know that most changes only score fractions of a point, and we have already completed the amendments that were easiest for us as a company. Of course it is important to keep moving forward and making the difficult changes, not only for the points, but for the benefit of the planet and people which is the reason we are on this journey after all!
One thing I wasn’t sure of was if I would be able to amend the BIA once it had been submitted – it is a relief to be able to say you can! I have a printed copy anyway simply because I work better this way, so if necessary I could see it all but it is good to be able to make amendments whilst we wait for the review so it will be up to date when the B Lab gets in touch.
Upon submitting the BIA you pay a fee of £250 plus VAT, you also pay annual fees once certified – the amount varies depending on company turnover. You can see what the fees are here.
Looking After Each Other:
The importance of being happy at work can never be underestimated. It seems obvious to me that people who feel valued both as individuals and as part of a team will work better, work harder, and will feel comfortable with sharing ideas for the benefit of the business. However as simple as this may be it is something that is often forgotten. We are a small, close knit team here and like to think that everyone is happy and comfortable at work, and that each individual knows who to turn to with any issues. It is important not to assume though (they don’t say assume makes an ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me’ for no reason!) so we recently conducted a wellbeing survey – the average score was 92% which is well above average work satisfaction which according to clearreview.com is a measly 45% in the UK. Seriously, 45%. That is not good enough especially when it is not hard to make simple changes
Move your body!
What happiness and wellbeing looks like will vary between businesses. Here it includes having nice prints on the walls, plants in the office, a pick ‘n’ mix station and treats on training days (think goody bags with a few items from small, sustainable companies and lunches provided). We also have a daily lunchtime walk – on top of our lunch break we go for a short walk in the beautiful countryside where we are lucky to work, which gets our bodies moving and some fresh air in our lungs. The majority of us do the walk daily and it is also a nice way to chat to people we don’t see so regularly. A bit of movement helps prevent the mid afternoon slump so is good for productivity too!
Honeywell Biscuit Co. supports Farm Africa through a charity partnership. In addition to this each of us has chosen a charity of our choice to receive £10 a month. This means that we all know that a charity that is important to us as individuals is being supported through our employment which is a wonderful thing!
Recently we joined an Employee Assistance Programme, which provides online and telephone support to all employees, their spouses and their dependants for a wide range of issues. The specific EAP we have signed up to includes an app with which you can track your mood, and access a huge variety of support such as podcasts, written articles and mini health checks. The relevant person in the business can also get a report to say if the telephone support has been used – no personal details are used it is simply a case of being told, for example, that 3 people called in the last 6 months. This means that from a business perspective it is possible to see if it is being used or not.
These are just some of the things that we believe makes Honeywell Biscuit Co a fantastic place to work. Of course we don’t always get it right, but on the whole we are all happy, feel supported and enjoy coming to work which can only be a good thing!
Whilst working through the B Impact Assessment and looking at every aspect of the business it has been necessary to make some difficult decisions. For example we would love to use organic sugar due to the fact that it is so much better for the environment. In my quest to source it I discovered that it is not possible to buy British organic sugar. It can be sourced from abroad, however it is very expensive and there is no guarantee the people involved are treated well. Finding organic and Fair Trade sugar is very difficult, though not impossible, but the cost is even higher. As a business we can absorb some increase in cost, but we have to be realistic with how much extra we can spend. If we chose to use non Fair Trade organic sugar, we would not be making the right choice for the people working in its production. Plus it would have to be shipped across the world which has a negative environmental impact therefore negating most of the positive impact of it being grown in an organic way.
Considering all this we have decided to only purchase British Sugar for the time being; the sugar they produce might not be organic but it is grown and processed in Britain, and they are taking steps to negate this and to do good for nature and for people. You can see more about the process on their website. If you wish to only buy British sugar please read labels carefully – ‘made in England’ often actually means processed in England, not that the sugar beet was actually grown here (the same goes for other products too, for example I have seen sausages that are ‘made in England’…with pork from Europe).
Our focus right now:
Printer Ink: I would love to find a more environmentally friendly printer ink. We are working towards a paperless system for all the orders however this is not as simple as you’d expect as it needs to work with the various platforms we use. In the meantime we save our printer and toner cartridges to be sent off to be refilled/recycled, but in terms of the actual ink I have not (yet!) found anything with environmental credentials.
Fondant: We currently buy fondant and would like to make it from scratch using as many organic and natural ingredients as possible. The main issue with this is the colourings – we have tried various natural colourings but so much has to be added to the white fondant base to achieve the correct colours that it changes the fondants consistency and it does not set properly. This means it never goes fully hard and so is not workable for us – we need the biscuits that we work so hard on to arrive with our wonderful customers looking perfect and soft fondant would not cope with being tightly packed and posted. We will keep working on this and hopefully suitable natural colourings will become available in the future.
Butter and Eggs: We purchase our butter and eggs from a local greengrocer that we are happy with, they are from grass fed cows and free range chickens. Ideally we would like to use organic butter and eggs, however obtaining the quantity we need for a good price is difficult. We use more than most but not a huge amount when compared with large food manufacturers. We will continue to support our local greengrocer and hope that they will be able to source organic produce for us in the future.
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!