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Emma Bridgewater B Corp status changed how it “interacted with people within business”

Image © Emma Bridgewater

Julia Cove-Smith, CEO of Emma Bridgewater, explains to Emma Herrod how B Corp certification provided a focus and framework for ESG endeavours in an exclusive interview in the RetailX SustainabilityX 2024 report.

The company was certified as a B Corp in January 2022, changing its articles of association to match the need to consider all stakeholders when business decisions are made. This followed “just over a year” of management and data collection for its first B Corp Impact Assessment. 

Cove-Smith took on the task of managing and collecting data with advice from a trained B Leader. “If it’s not being run from someone at the top of the organisation, it’s probably much more difficult because if the CEO is running it, everybody in the business believes you are serious about the commitment,” says Cove-Smith. “They are also great at getting back to you quickly.”

“It’s easier for the CEO to ask for more information than someone in a more junior position,” she adds, accepting how employees respond faster to senior staff. 

The B Corp framework extends beyond helping businesses understand their environmental impact. Data under the headings of governance, workers, community, environment and customers is assessed every three years, with the company needing to show improvements every time. 

“As we went through the process of becoming a B Corp, the thing we changed most was how we interacted with people within the business,” says Cove-Smith. This has been the biggest impact, as well as being the area in which it scored highest in its assessment. Staff communication, benefits, pay scales and how the business treats younger and older staff members and those with diverse needs were all analysed, resulting in a number of changes. The real Living Wage has been introduced and employee engagement set up, enabling two-way conversations with staff and giving everyone within the business a voice. 

Overall, mindsets within the business have changed, with B Corp principles taken into account when decisions are made. This extends to the supply chain, suppliers, stockists and the local community. Emma Bridgewater now works increasingly with other B Corp businesses.

This interview was authored by Emma Herrod, and is just one of four company profiles featured in the SustainabilityX 2024 report. Herrod also spoke to senior figures within the businesses discussing the sustainability journey, including:

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