Businesses are being asked to become more mindful about their social and environmental impact and as their choices to balance purpose and profit become more closely scrutinised, Wrappr’s Jonte Shaw says better options are becoming available to help them measure and manage their impact.
Businesses are being called upon to transform from profiting few to benefiting all. However, every step on that journey needs to be taken with care, as consumers are becoming more savvy in calling out false claims and greenwashing.
In order to start the process in a measured and manageable way, businesses of all different shapes and sizes are seeking to become certified B Corporations (B Corps).
B Corps are companies that are joining the movement to deliver social and environmental value (not just profit) in a tangible way. With more than 500 in ANZ and recently surpassing 6,000 B Corps around the world, the certification process is helping companies to find a meaningful balance between purpose and profit, shifting a concept that was once seen as an unreachable ideal into reality.
A balance between purpose and profit is possible
Unilever ANZ started The Compass, a global sustainable business strategy to achieve the certification in 2022. Some of its initiatives include gender parity across management, pioneering flexible work with a four-day work week trial in New Zealand, switching to 100% renewable electricity to power its operations and collaborating with farmers on regenerative agriculture principles.
Boody, an underwear brand that uses sustainable materials and donates 1% of profits to the planet, is also a B Corp certified business. The brand advocates for mindful consumption and its factories use state-of-the-art computer knitting machines to create seamless garments that minimise fabric wastage.
The growing movement is highlighting that it is achievable for companies of all different sizes and scale to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
B Corps are guided by a set of requirements that ensure they are helping to envision and create an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economic system. They also become legally committed to bringing benefit not just to shareholders but all business stakeholders – workers, customers, communities and the environment.
How Wrappr became a B Corp
Inspired by the prospect of leading other media owners to think more broadly about their social and environmental impact, Wrappr recently went through the process of becoming a B Corp.
Considering the influence that media owners have on society and their ability to amplify messages for better or worse, all of us at Wrappr acknowledge that the same standards that are applied to brands should be applied to us. Working through the impact assessment on the B Lab website required a significant investment of time. But it made us think in depth about every aspect of our business and how it could be improved.
We were asked many questions which we had previously never considered and re-evaluated many aspects of our business over a 12-month period. The certification also helped us learn how to embed our values more concretely into Wrappr in an enduring way. It gave us a measurable and manageable governance framework that could help us stay true to our mission to pioneer a new way of advertising, where brands, people and the environment all benefit.
Wrappr, alongside every other B Corp, has been assessed across five different areas in the B Impact assessment. Each area drills down into a great level of detail and has instigated numerous changes within our business.
B Corp applicants are asked to assess how they take care of their workers and improve their lives and wellbeing. So an immediate change we implemented was a generous increase in parental and compassionate leave.
We also looked at how we could enhance our remote-first workplace to enable employees to live the lives they want and allowed staff to self-determine the best way they can maximise their happiness and effectiveness.
We also needed to make sure that our governance considers all stakeholders and we created an employee share scheme to distribute the profits of Wrappr equitably.
This ensures that Wrappr employees benefit from the success of the company but also become custodians of its values and act like owners in every business interaction that they have.
Wrappr runs high impact outdoor advertising campaigns with wrapped private vehicles. We do not ask or incentivise drivers (or advocates, as we call them) to drive any more than they usually would. However, we wanted to use our business model to make positive change. So ever since Wrappr began, we have run a 200% Carbon Offset Program, whereby for every Wrappr advocate we have on the road, 200% of their vehicle’s emissions are offset via our partnership with Greenfleet.
More recently, to help accelerate the adoption of EVs in Australia, we also ensured that EV-driving advocates earn an additional A$100 per month on top of our standard campaign earnings.
It’s important that B Corps have a positive impact on their customers’ lives. Knowing that brands are constantly under scrutiny to reduce their emissions, as media owners, we wanted to give them a carbon negative option, whilst also providing a viable avenue for them to generate positive environmental and social impact from their marketing budgets.
Wrappr’s business model enables everyday people to earn an additional, passive income by simply going about their regular driving routine and advocating for brands they are proud to endorse.
On average, Wrappr advocates earn A$500 per month, which is equal to a 9% pay rise for the average Australian.
We think it is fantastic that members of the local community are able to benefit so significantly and easily from the ad economy.
If an organisation receives a score of 80 or above on the B Impact Assessment, B Lab will award them B Corp certification. To retain their certification, B Corps also need to re-submit an assessment every three years and for transparency, their profile contains a breakdown of their score and any necessary disclosures for the public.
Organisations will also embed a number of clauses into their constitution to ensure the decisions made by all current and future directors are done so in the best interests of all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
Step by step
Consumers are asking for businesses to make transformative change for the betterment of society and the environment. While the changes are large, they are within reach when business leaders can take incremental and measured steps to get there.
We’re at a point now where there are credible best practices to learn from and businesses can benchmark their progress against industry peers. The pressure from consumers is on and it’s possible for businesses to set tangible goals that continuously improve their impact.