boxxe’s decision not to go ahead with becoming a B Corp hasn’t stopped it embedding “the good things it represents” across its business, CEO Phil Doye has stressed.
Having in late 2021 set a goal of becoming the first UK IT reseller to achieve the social and environmental accreditation, public sector-focused boxxe opted not to proceed with it last Autumn – despite passing its audit.
“We are a proud supplier to the UK defence sector but B Corp considers defence one of a number of controversial industries. In these instances they require an agreed publicly available statement from the B Corp caveating its relationship with those customers. In simple terms we do not view it as a controversial industry and as a result could not agree to the proposed statements,” Doye told IT Channel Oxygen.
“I think we may be the first company that’s passed its B Corp audit and has chosen not to go ahead with the certification.”
“We loved the ideals and principles of B Corp,” Doye added.
“It’s a really rigorous process, and all the good things that B Corp stands for and represents, we feel like we’ve adopted those into the way that we do business.
“So while we might not be a B Corp, we operate in line with those principals: we are concerned with purpose as well as profit.”
‘Hugely beneficial to boxxe’
The B Corporation movement is designed to mark out companies that “balance profits with people and planet”. Well-known B Corps include The Body Shop, Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia.
Since boxxe first submitted its application to become a B Corp in 2021, several UK IT solutions providers have successfully gained the certification, including Cisco Gold partner Natilik and Google partner Cloud Technology Solutions (read more about their experiences here).
More and more channel partners are following in their footsteps.
Billed as “the most rigorous, comprehensive and rewarding process your business will undertake”, B Corp is designed to measure a company’s “entire social and environmental performance”. This spans supply chain and input materials to charitable giving and employee benefits.
Firms must score above 80 points in a B Impact Assessment before submitting it for evaluation and verification by ‘B Lab’, a process that can take over a year.
Doye characterised completing the assessment and passing the audit as “hugely beneficial” to the York-based solutions provider.
“There was one area of the process that we fundamentally could not agree on, which is why we chose not to proceed,” he explained.
“It has meant that we have embedded a lot of the things that were needed [to pass it].”
“We are a leader in our focus on volunteering with each boxxer given up to 11-and-a-half days a year to give to volunteering for both good causes and pro bono work, which is way beyond anyone else in the market.
“We want to be active in our communities. We want to be using the vehicle of our business to be impactful in a positive way.”
boxxe was one of only six suppliers to secure a berth on all 8 Lots of the recently awarded, £12bn TePAS 2 framework, which was notable for its increased focus on social value, Doye noted.
“That’s a big endorsement of what we’re offering because it isn’t all about price – it’s also values driven,” he said.
B Corp response
A B Corp spokesperson said that they could not comment on boxxe’s individual journey, but provided some background information on why not all companies progress to certification.
There are several requirements of becoming a B Corp that are all in the public domain, they stressed.
“Difficult and complex questions regularly arise as to how controversial issues in the world of business should affect a company’s eligibility for B Corp certification. We thus have a rigorous process behind certifying organisations working in, or with clients in some sensitive industries. These are known as our risk standards,” the spokesperson stated.
“Our risk standards are publicly available here; these are the additional minimum standards that companies in industries, or with practices with potential negative impacts, must meet to be eligible for B Corp certification. This includes requirements for companies to transparently share on their B Corp profile the scale of their involvement with these practices and how they are managing these impacts.”