Interview: How to be the most ethical, responsible retailer possible
Julie Mathers founded Flora & Fauna to be the most ethical, responsible retailer possible. It is their aim to turn retail on its head and build a retailer that takes responsibility for what they do, whether that is sourcing, packaging, impact on the environment, how to work with their team and suppliers and what they give back to the community. Flora & Fauna is only three years old and this last year they took it one step further and achieved BCorp Certification, making them now part of a community focused on using business for good and making change. We caught up with her recently to find out more, read on …
What is the process behind getting BCorp Certified?
I founded Flora & Fauna to be the most ethical, responsible retailer possible, or at least that is what we strive to be. It is an aim of mine to turn retail on its head and to build a retailer that takes responsibility for what we do, whether that be sourcing, packaging, impact on the environment, how we work with our team and suppliers and what we give back to the community. We are only three years old and this last year we took this one step further and achieved BCorp Certification so we are now part of a community focused on using business for good and making change.
What is BCorp?
Certified B CorporationsTM redefine success in business.
Individually, B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.
Collectively, B Corps use their power and ethics so ‘people use business as a force for good’. The aim is to make a huge shift so that all businesses strive to be ‘Best for the World’.
There are over 2,200 businesses globally with this status, around 190 in Australia and a handful of retailers so we want to see more retailers get on board.
Retailers and brands around the world that are BCorps include Patagonia, Kester Black, Dr Bronner’s and of course us.
What value does it have?
- If being a responsible, ethical, business is part of your reason for being you should apply to be a BCorp.
- Firstly and, most importantly, being a responsible business is important to your customers, and team, so it should be important to you. Following TV Series such as War On waste customers are asking questions; they want to know where their waste goes and what packaging is used. Customers want to know where products are made and who makes them. 84% of Gen Y’ers believe it is their duty to change the world. They want to shop at, and work for, businesses that mimic their values.
- You’re part of a business community that is full of ideas and wanting to make change. It’s inspirational and you talk to businesses not in your space so great for provoking creative thinking and sharing ideas.
- It’s a huge differentiator for you and you should embrace it.
- The certification process is thorough but produces a report that benchmarks you against other businesses so you can see how you are performing and what you need to improve on. It’s a great way to build the groundwork for your strategy and to continually improve on it. We use the report regularly.
- The certification is not a one step process; every two years you need to reaccredit so it’s a journey with a strategy you need to keep delivering on. If you simply want a seal of approval BCorp is not right for you; you need to be committed to the journey and the underlying aim of BCorps.
How do you get certified?
There are a few steps to go through.
First head to the Bcorp website, read plenty of info, attend webinars and take the assessment to see how you fare.
It can take a while to complete and a lot of it is lapsed time. We took a couple of months to complete it, others take a lot longer, others much less. It’s all about having the information. If your score is above 80 you’ve hit the threshold.
Next you can compare where you land compared to the average. This gives you a real idea of what you need to improve upon.
You will be asked to submit documentation to back up what you’ve said in the questionnaire. This could be anything from your business set up to policies and procedures. You have a good amount of time to do this; effectively you control the timeline.
Finally you have a call with a BCorp Member for an hour or two to discuss then you may need to submit documentation then hopefully that;s it, if you are above the 80 threshold.
Luckily here in Australia we have a local Blab team so there is plenty of support to help you through the certification process. They hold coaching days, seminars and they’re easy to get hold of.
February is BCorp month so a perfect time to start your journey. You can find more on the Australian BCorp Website.