B Corp in practice

Article by
Laura Caccioppoli

Redvespa's Business for Good Champion looks back at our first year as a B Corp.

“If you really believe in what you’re doing, work hard, take nothing personally and if something blocks one route, find another. Never give up.” Laurie Notaro, Author

This quote seems like a common sense thing to say to anyone with a dream or ambition. But, for me, it sums up how I feel about putting Redvespa’s B Corp certification into practice.

When I was asked to write this piece, after getting over the initial terror at having to put myself out there publicly, I started by taking some time out of my usual schedule (aren’t plane journeys great for this?) and wrote down anything that sprung to mind when I thought about my role as Redvespa’s Business for Good Champion and how B Corp informed that.

The result was a host of thoughts and feelings that weren’t just about the specifics of B Corp but about the movement as a whole.  I hope that my thoughts and Redvespa's work resonate. 

Reactivity v. Proactivity

“... work hard ...”

In the nine month process of gaining B Corp certification, we were very reactive to the questions being asked. While we are always keen to better ourselves and do good for others, we really only looked at what we had already done and what we needed to do in order to gain the certification in the first place. Where we needed to take action, we picked the low hanging fruit.

Now that we have certification, we have three years to ensure we not only keep it but make the most of a wonderful opportunity to expand and grow how we do that. Yes, there are certain boxes to be ticked but those boxes are so varied that there are a plethora of actions we can take over those three years (two now, but what’s a year between friends?) to improve our score.

We now have the chance to be really proactive and creative with our work and Business for Good initiatives.

Internal Factors

“... take nothing personally ...”

The people we work with and the culture we have created are some of the biggest influences on our work. These internal factors played a role in Redvespa pursuing B Corp certification, and now they are major considerations as we strive for a bigger impact.

B Corp isn’t just a badge to display on our website. It’s a completely different way of working. It’s a mindset that realises profit isn’t the only measure of success. That can be a tricky balance when you’re working in a business where financial sustainability is vital to safeguarding the livelihood of your people.

Not everyone will be as passionate about B Corp, or certain aspects of it, as the individual or group leading the charge so it’s crucial to be sensitive to that and resist the temptation to bowl everyone over with “good” business ideas! Clear communication and collaborative working practices, while difficult at times, are paramount to making the success of a B Corp.

External Factors

“... if something blocks one route, find another.”

Just as we have internal factors to consider in our work, we also have external considerations too.  The scrapping of soft plastics recycling in New Zealand in late 2018 put a dent in Redvespa’s waste minimisation efforts. On the other side, the recent Wellbeing Budget put forward by the Government has the potential to create opportunities for our work targetted at reducing youth suicide rates.  

We have to be constantly aware as an organisation of what is going on outside of our four walls and work to adapt to whatever we are presented with.

Staying Focused

“Never give up.”

B Corp certification covers the entire business, so it can be difficult to pin down exactly what you want to do and where to focus your efforts.

While there is definitely beauty in having so many options, it can also make you feel like the football manager who has their entire squad at their disposal for the first time all season. Do you pick the star players that everyone knows and loves, or do you pick the lesser known players who may have served you well during a tough injury run?

We also need to remember that we can’t do everything all at once. Incremental change is where it’s at!

For Redvespa, and any other B Corp organisation, keeping that focus is crucial to ensure our score keeps heading in the right direction. As the person responsible for this, it can feel like a lot of pressure at times. However, Redvespa is and always has been about doing good and I’m fortunate that before, I took over, we had a number of amazing projects already on the go.

Alongside our new projects and initiatives, we will:

  • continue our partnership with Zeno Project to deliver Your Kingdom resources and work towards reducing rates of youth suicide in New Zealand;
  • look at ways to expand our social purpose work to allow us to work with a wider variety of clients and give our wonderful consultants more opportunities to be involved in projects they are passionate about;
  • continue our Vision for Sustainability and work towards our end goal of becoming a net carbon neutral organisation.

I’m proud to have been given the responsibility for B Corp at Redvespa. It can be tough at times but also engaging, overwhelming but rewarding. To be able to work for an organisation that shares so many of my own personally-held values on a project that is proven to be making a difference across the world, makes it all worthwhile.

“If you really believe in what you’re doing …”


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