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A metaphysical shake up - with B Corp Consultant Tim Jones
Tim Jones used to be a medical device salesman before taking the reins at a property consultancy company in Christchurch. However, following the Canterbury earthquakes and the birth of his daughter, a few “internal conversations were sparked - a physical shake up that led to a metaphysical shake up”, and he realised he needed work that was focused on purpose rather than solely profit.
Tim says during this time he discovered that many businesses cared only about making money rather than their impact on employees, society or the planet. He recalls being astounded that although the Christchurch population wanted the city’s rebuild to be green, liveable, walkable, sustainable and community-focused, the Property Council, builders and developers wanted cheap and quick. There was no regard for the social and environmental impact. Tim says he soon realised that the building and property industry was just as bad as the medical industry, and this overarching focus on profit was common for many businesses. This is when his journey with B Corp began.
Tim, What sparked your interest in B Corp?
I became interested in building a good human resources (HR) culture when working in property consultancy due to some internal issues. I googled “HR culture fix” and suddenly this thing called B Corp came up. I’d wanted some credibility internally, and for clients, as I had no building qualifications or experience. This was when B Corp really resonated with me, particularly the social, environmental and internal framework. I contacted Steve Ardagh of Eagle Protect in Christchurch, one of New Zealand’s first B Corps, and discovered there was a whole other way of doing business than just making money. I then connected with B Lab in Melbourne and became New Zealand’s B Corp ambassador, which gave me some legitimacy.
When and why did you start Grow Good?
Following my introduction to B Corp, I realised that the businesses I was currently involved with weren’t going to become B Corp. So, when I was made redundant in late 2015, I decided it was now or never and started Grow Good, which became certified in mid-2016.
Are New Zealand companies keen to become B Corp?
In 2012, New Zealand had one B Corp. There are now nearly 100. Two years ago there was a big change in consciousness and businesses started coming to me wanting to know how to do B Corp. I no longer had to approach them and explain what B Corp was. This was when big companies like The Co-operative Bank and Stuff came to us.
I think Covid has been a global inflexion point for this turnaround in awareness. People had time to think about many things including their work, and started questioning the nature of essential work. Does humanity and society need their work? If not, why are they here? They had time to think deeply about their businesses’ social impact, such as how to keep the company going and people employed, and they also noticed a decrease in their carbon emissions. I believe the awareness was already out there and Covid was the lightning rod that quickly pulled it all together.
Also, with more regulation now coming through, including mandatory reporting for big companies, there is an awareness that the supply chain has an impact and reflects upon businesses. Getting big companies on board like Kiwibank and The Co-operative Bank has legitimised B Corp because people have heard of these companies.
How do you talk to businesses about B Corp?
We tell them that their customers, employees, supply chain and investors are looking at them and want to hear their social and environmental impact story. They want proof.
What are some of the benefits of becoming B Corp?
In 2021, ANZ issued a $100 million loan to Kathmandu. One of the loan stipulations was that Kathmandu had to increase its B Corp score. ANZ felt B Corp was the only social and environmental framework it could lend against because it was globally recognised and independently verified. That’s why for me it is the gold standard. There’s nothing else as rigorous. The framework covers all five pillars - governance, workers, community, environment, and customer model.
New Zealand companies are now working within this framework too. ANZ and Kiwibank have small business lending where currently you can get better finance options if you’re investing in social and environmental outcomes.
When businesses use a B Corp assessment, many have their eyes opened to topics, ideas, and questions that they haven’t thought about but that resonate with them, and they wonder why they haven’t been doing something so obvious.
B Corp also provides a greater sense of purpose. It fits into the broader conversation around mental health and wellbeing. In a United Kingdom survey several years ago, 37% of employees said their job provided them with no meaning and was very likely contributing to destroying the planet. How’s that to start the week?
What kind of company is interested in B Corp?
We work with a real mix of companies. Some are very B Corp and just need to pull documentation together, but we’re getting more of those who have to work much harder too. For me, regardless of where the company sits, if it has the mindset and the intent to want to do it, that’s all you need. If you want to get it done, you will work, genuinely and authentically, to make the changes required to achieve the certification.
What happens when a company becomes B Corp?
It’s a long-term game. The initial aim is to achieve certification and then the focus turns to improving the certification score. Re-certification takes place every three years, which is a great window for improvement. Companies are generally motivated to keep improving their B Corp score, which is unusual. B Corp seems to capture their hearts and minds, genuine enthusiasm, and inspiration. Companies get the bug. Once they’ve done good, they want to do more good.
What is your driving motivation behind Grow Good?
The real reward is seeing the companies we work with getting certified, going on that journey, and having their eyes opened. We get to hang out with some really cool companies that are already doing some great things and just need to be made aware of this.
What’s in the pipeline for Grow Good?
We want to create a programme for B Corps who are already doing pretty well, and look at things beyond the certification assessment, such as regenerative business practices and so on. There are currently very few examples of this being done so it is very exciting. I feel that there will be a group of us building this together because no one knows how to do it as we’re not doing it yet.
With such a full schedule, how do you spend your rare moments of downtime?
Winter is definitely about skiing for me. It’s my big reconnect. You can’t think of anything apart from the next turn. I have a group of self-employed friends who head out when the snow is good and the sun is shining. And, in summer, I try to get on my bike or take the dog for a walk and listen to podcasts.
What do you enjoy most about Grow Good?
I enjoy all of it but what I really love doing is sessions on purpose - trying to get into the mindset of people, how to think differently so that you want to act differently, and B Corp is a good proxy vehicle for that.
What can you tell us about the upcoming event with MRCagney?
It will be a great 101 of B Corp - what it is, why you should do it, and how to do it. The aim is to blend the MRCagney team story into the interactive session. MRCagney was a great example of a company already doing it, we just needed to put a badge on it, and document it. They are one of New Zealand’s highest-scoring B Corps.
Register for the free B Corp webinar with Tim and the team at MRCagney