B Corp Month: The B Corp Built Environment Working Group

In 2020 the team at Ward Williams Associates (WWA) was incredibly proud to achieve a World First! We became the first Chartered Surveyors in the world to become a Certified B Corporation.  Certified B Corporations are companies that are committed to using business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. They are rigorously tested to ensure they met the highest standards of social and environmental performance and committed to demonstrating continuous improvement of their impact on society and the environment through transparency and accountability.

To achieve certification organisations must complete the B Impact Assessment (BIA). The BIA is around 200 questions that assess an organisation’s positive impact on its workers, community, customers and environment. To qualify as a B Corps a minimum impact score of 80 across all of these impact areas must be achieved. WWA is so proud to have a B Corp impact score of 135.5, ranking us in the Top 10 of all UK B Corp businesses.

As part of this global network of forward-thinking businesses, it quickly became clear that construction and the built environment was an under-represented sector in the B Corp community. The construction sector has a reputation for being slow to change and often not actively progressive. This is something WWA and like-minded companies are seeking to change.

The ‘B Corp Built Environment Working Group’ has been created! The construction sector B Corps have united to form a 17 strong group of businesses with the shared aim of reducing the impact of their operations and project delivery on people, places and planet whilst maintaining profit.

The working group members operate across a broad spectrum of the construction industry from; Developers, House Builders, Architects, Cost & Project Management, Engineering and Fund Managers. Members are located across the UK including Joseph Homes, Kennedy Woods and Igloo Regeneration to name a few.  Kate Barber-Lomax from Igloo currently shares the Co-Chair role with Scott James of WWA:

Kate says “We initiated the B Corp Built Environment Working Group as it felt like an opportune time to bring together the rapidly rising number of B Corps in our space where we could share ideas and best practice from across the sector. As a purpose-driven business, our clients choose to work with us because of shared values in doing right for people, place and planet. Networking, and particularly our B Corp working group has provided great opportunities to work with other like-minded businesses to deliver great places for our Clients, and ultimately the people who live, play and work there too.”

The group seeks to bring together the collective knowledge and expertise to share amongst others in our sector. Areas of focus broadly follow the themes of B Corp; Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. These themes set out the basis for a review of a businesses impact on the triple-bottom-line (people, planet & profit). This means that a business with an excellent track record in staff engagement or HR policies can outline to others how they can take steps to improve. Others may have a clear Action Plan to become Net-Zero Carbon by 2030 and can share their approach to inspire and provide guidance to others.

Initial priorities of the group in 2021 will focus on Diversity & Inclusion and Net Zero 2030 in construction. Both the G7 and COP26 are being hosted in the UK this year which will hopefully be a kick to all businesses in committing to ‘Net Zero 2030’.

Over the coming months, we will be sharing some our progress at WWA including staff volunteering in their communities, healthy workplaces for our teams and our ambitions to drive sustainability in construction. In turn, we very much look forward to learning from the great work of others and are eager to continue our role as a construction sector leader in promoting ‘business as a force for good’.

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