And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
When Redvespa made the initial decision to go for B Corp certification back in 2017, it was a very clear statement of the direction we wanted to take as a business. But gaining the certification was only ever a secondary outcome. Our focus was always on what we could learn about ourselves, as a business and as people. If we happened to be good enough to become certified, then that was an added bonus.
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
In 2020, Redvespa has made the bold decision that we will not be renewing our B Corp certification. This does not mean we are no longer in Business for Good. On the contrary, we have made this call with intent and purpose. We are now committed to focusing even more of our resources on being in Business for Good to further our impact in a variety of areas in a truly unique Redvespa way.
I planned each chartered course
Each careful step along the way
And more, much more than this
So now, as we approach this turning point, this fork in the road, how did we come to the decision to move away from B Corp?
I did it my way.
Redvespa has never been afraid to make difficult decisions in order to stay true to our purpose, our culture, and our place as a proud New Zealand business and the B Corp decision was no different. We are no stranger to making bold decisions, whether that be with our clients, our Consultants, or through our involvement in our communities and environment. We are also very clear that we don’t want to lose who we are in the blur of the magic of B Corp.
By starting work to recertify as a B Corp, we run the risk of focusing too much on what’s required of us and less on what we can actually achieve.
When Redvespa was founded in 2003, our founder, Richard Gibson, and his wife, Sarah, were determined that Redvespa be used as a vehicle for providing not just an excellent business analysis service to our clients, but also for unleashing potential in the youth of Aotearoa. This process began in earnest in 2017 with the release of Your Kingdom: A Guide to Wellbeing & Potential and we have since donated over 2,500 copies to schools, youth groups, community organisations, and individuals across the country. With a Your Kingdom website currently under development and plans to expand our offering in this area, spending 12 months working towards recertification would take resources from these plans and lessen our impact in an area that is so close to the heart of Redvespa.
As an organisation, we’re very open in talking about our work and the values we share with our clients. Recently, we’ve found we talk about being in Business for Good more than we talk about being B Corp certified, and we’ve found those conversations resonate with others in the business community.
We’ve crafted initiatives, worked collaboratively, and shared our stories around Business for Good and we’re continuing to work with our communities – staff, clients, and wider – to respond to the challenges and opportunities that resonate with them under this philosophy.
In 2019, as part of developing our inaugural Business for Good Impact Report, we created our own set of Business for Good Values. These twelve values are based, not on the pillars of B Corp, but on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, giving us a connection to something on a scale beyond our business or the B Corp community. These values represent the areas where we feel we can have the most impact and, while some of them closely align with the B Corp pillars, they represent a much wider view on the areas where we can do Good.
Redvespa is known for being bold and unafraid of making the tough calls when necessary and our decision to leave the B Corp whānau is just one example of this. In saying goodbye to B Corp, however, we say hello to a whole new world of opportunity. One which will be distinctly Redvespa.
As I’ve previously said, our aim in applying for B Corp was to learn. Learn about ourselves as people, and as an organisation, and about the type of business we wanted to be. And, boy, did we learn a lot. There were areas where we thought we’d be strong, but our score indicated we had much more to do. Conversely, there were areas where we hadn’t really considered our impact, where we were doing much more than we thought.
We were able to separate the low-hanging fruit from those higher up and see which improvements could be made quickly and which would require more thought, time, effort, and resource. Most importantly, we learned much more about the type of organisation we want to be.
If we were to re-certify, we can’t be certain that our learning throughout the process would be the same. We have a clear idea now of where we are strong and where we can improve. More importantly, we have a very clear idea of where we want to go and we trust in ourselves to be able to make it happen. So, while Business for Good will always be a journey for us and we’ll continue to learn, we’re also going to prioritise action moving forward.
While many organisations are turning their focus towards climate action, at Redvespa we are keen to ensure our focus remains broad, utilising all of our Business for Good Values and prioritising the areas where we feel we can have the most impact. Climate action remains important, but it’s not the only issue addressed by our values.
The physical environment is, and always will be of exceptional importance to Redvespa and we will continue on our path towards net carbon neutrality with a view to reducing our emissions wherever possible and offsetting those which can’t be avoided.
We will continue to reduce the waste we produce and we are fully committed to ensuring our impact on the planet is positive. We acknowledge, however, a desire to balance that with our work on other issues that affect beautiful Aotearoa and we feel the best opportunity to do that lies outside of the B Corp framework.
In 2019, Redvespa recruited its very first Head of Evolution. This role has the responsibility to champion and drive the development of the business through innovation, ensuring we continue to evolve. While this applies to all aspects of the business, Business for Good has been a strong beneficiary.
A new voyage in our Business for Good journey.
In late 2019, we launched The Good Project, an initiative which uses our core skills of business analysis to assist charities and social enterprises in developing their own operations, allowing them to maximise the use of their own resources for doing Good. Since launch, we have completed projects with Comcare, a charity working with those affected by mental health and addiction issues in the Canterbury area, and with Scouts NZ, helping them to roadmap their internal systems and processes to allow for a more streamlined approach. This work supports Scouts in addressing their goal of recruiting 25,000 children and young people into Scouting across the country.
Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, with more of our Consultants than normal available to work on Redvespa projects, we were able to hold our first ever Start-Up Jam – held virtually and bringing together people from across Redvespa. Out of this came The Good Business Toolkit, a real-world offering which assists businesses in determining a roadmap for delivery on their own Good values.
Developing new ideas like these takes resources and, under our Business for Good philosophy, we’re prioritising the imagination and action required to develop them.
B Corp, like anything, requires investment – time and money. As a growing business, the financial commitment is also growing for Redvespa. With the plans we have as an organisation, and with the impact of COVID-19 weighing heavily on many in the New Zealand business community, the decision is not just whether we want to recertify, but whether the money we invest in B Corp is being invested in the place that best supports our communities.
In 2020, we have seen growth in the desire to support projects, groups, and people closer to home and it is here that we have an opportunity to make a tangible difference. Continuing our partnership with Lazy Sneakers, further developing The Good Project, developing our Your Kingdom website, and launching The Good Business Toolkit are just some of the many ways we plan to do this.
With our growing Business for Good philosophy now starting to produce real financial outcomes for the business, it has become clear to us that aligning our financial investment with our Business for Good priorities is more authentic to who we are, and more supportive of our communities.
As Business for Good Champion, I am looking forward to seeing even more of our ideas come to fruition in the coming months and years.
So, why are we announcing this now when we don’t have to recertify until 2021?
Well, the B Corp certification process is rigorous (as it should be) and time consuming. It took nine months of hard work to gain our initial certification and we’d expect a similar investment to be put into re-certification.
Weighing up focusing, almost solely, on re-certification against the amount of Good work which could do in the same period on other projects and the decision became a simple one.
Our focus is, and always will be, on maximising our impact. At this point in time, leaving B Corp gives us the best opportunity to do this.
Although we’re moving away from B Corp, we will always remain an active supporter and an advocate for balancing profit with purpose. We will look back fondly on the sense of community that exists within B Corp and feel a sense of pride we were able to be a part of it
Even though B Corp isn’t right for us anymore, we know there will be many more businesses for whom it is. We look forward to seeing the movement grow while, at the same time, continuing to develop and progress our own work in Business for Good.
Laura Caccioppoli is an aspiring amateur triathlete and Redvespa’s Business for Good Champion. Ultra organised and a superb people wrangler, her passion for doing Good extends to helping her sons’ daycare and school be more sustainable.
You can find Laura at [email protected]