I wish you a relaxing but also energising summer holiday. You certainly deserve it. I would like to offer you an inspiring thought that I hope you will return to at some point during your holiday – because you too have a millennium opportunity in your hands right now.
You’ll probably guess that this is related to sustainability and you’ll want to skip the whole article. But think about it: $12 trillion. That’s the amount the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) estimates as the size of the market for the SDGs.
The opening of new markets brings with it a big opportunity for businesses of all sizes. The question is: will your company seize this opportunity? Here are a few inspiring ideas to brighten up your time in the dock:
1. Your business is probably already ahead of the game
What should Finnish business decision-makers think about this situation? That the market is bigger than ever and that our starting position has never been as good as it is now – we have taken a false start compared to others.
Finland is number one in the SGD (UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals) index
Corporate Knights’ list of the 100 most sustainable companies in the world includes Finnish organisations every year (Kone, Neste, Kesko, Nordea…)
The Nordic welfare model is used as an example in many areas around the world
Finns are known for their straightforwardness and law-abiding attitude – so many are unnecessarily shy in the face of sustainability work
2. SMEs are the most agile in responding to challenges
If you’re an SME and you’re worried about what resources you have to respond to the opportunity – I can tell you that you’re in the best position to take advantage of the opening market. The smaller your organisation, the quicker you are likely to catch up with the business opportunity:
You have the ability to make quick decisions
You can implement reforms more smoothly than a large organisation
All staff are more easily engaged in change
You have a close relationship with your customers from a co-development and experimentation perspective
3. Your business model must be future-proof
It is clear that business models are being rapidly updated to be future-proof. In the coming years, our business will be confronted with accountability requirements and regulations from the EU, financiers and customers. Now is the time to start thinking about your own business with an eye to the future.
As far as I am concerned, I can say that for my company this change has been necessary and meaningful. Over the last few years, we have gone through an extensive transformation process, where the traditional marketing agency has become a catalyst for companies to work towards sustainability. As a result, our core products are now corporate responsibility, employer image and responsible communication and marketing services.
Einstein said it: the world we live in was made for our thinking – if you want to change the world, change your thinking. This text is probably being read by someone ahead of you – so have a good summer, take a moment to calm down and after the holidays, let’s take this opportunity with our chests full of joy.
Fabrik is looking for one or more pro bono partners – the main criterion is the potential of the applicant to make a real impact. Is your community seeking to make a significant positive difference in our society, but would need a little extra effort to succeed?
The pro bono partner search of Fabrik, a brand agency specialising in sustainability, could be the solution. The creative agency has just launched a call for partners for 2023 and 2024, with a minimum of 300 hours of work per year for a good partner.
The most important criterion for partner selection is the applicant’s potential to make a real impact at national or international level.
“In previous years, we have donated tens of tonnes of our work to organisations such as the Finnish League for Nature Conservation. As part of our new sustainability strategy and the B Corp sustainability community, we have decided to donate 2% of our turnover each year to maximise the positive impact of our chosen partners. Through our partnership programme, we provide free strategic services and marketing communication solutions for responsible and sustainable business,” says Perttu Kouvalainen, CEO of Fabrik.
Priority will be given to national non-profit organisations working to promote climate action, access to food and clean water, equality, multiculturalism, affordable housing, justice and peace, among other issues. Start-ups are also seen as interesting partners for new and sustainable solutions.
“At Fabrik, we work with the understanding that we are all interdependent and therefore responsible for each other and future generations. All business activities must be conducted in a way that does not cause unnecessary harm and that allows the results or effectiveness of the activities to be used in a variety of ways for the common good.”
Each organization aims towards a more sustainable business from its own point of view, based on its own principles, competitive strengths and opportunities to influence. However, not everyone has to figure out for themselves what corporate responsibility means and how to take steps to improve.
Kekäle, Mediateko and Artlab chose the B Impact Assessment evaluation tool as a map and a driver for the development path and set their sights on the B Corp certificate. Why so and what has the journey taught me so far?
Kekäle: In favor of keeping
Kekäle has been moving against the current of the clothing store for a long time. The domestic family company has resolutely grown its chain while many traditional competitors have closed their doors under the pressure of fast fashion culture and multinational players. Belief in high-quality, long-lasting clothes, in taking care of them and, above all, in keeping them has only strengthened along the way.
The desire to do things better has been concretely reflected in the development direction of Kekäle’s selection, services and marketing, as well as in taking care of the staff, which is traditionally close to a family business. However, CEO Joonas Kekäle feels that his company has much more potential. There is enough to improve both in our own operations and in the entire clothing industry, and now the renewal has started at the level of the entire company.
“We’ve had the will to invest in responsibility for years. However, progress was put on the handbrake for a long time, because in front of a huge entity it seems impossible to know where it’s wisest to start. The theme is so big and meaningful that it’s scary to touch it unfinished.” Joonas tells, and continues:
“The B Impact Assessment was a good tool for us to switch to a bigger gear. Going through a comprehensive battery of questions gave us an idea of our current state and clarified the main themes we should focus on in the development of our operations. With the help of skilled sparring partners, our individual experiments have been refined into a clear responsibility program, measurable development projects and a concrete road map. As the cautious steps change for determined strides, the hunger also started to grow. We decided to raise the bar and aim for the B Corp certificate.”
Mediateko: Reinforcing the good
Boldly challenging multinational outdoor advertising giants both in urban marketplaces and in popular leisure destinations, the collaboration between Mediateo and Fabrik started with a single advertising concept a couple of years ago. Since then, the close partnership has evolved to the point where both Mediateko and its subsidiary Supervisual have been up to their armpits in clay on the fundamental issues.
Doing the right thing, taking responsibility and standing up for what is right have been an integral part of the media culture since its inception. However, as with so many other companies, the will to do more was there in the face of a sustainability crisis that was coming at us from every corner. What was missing was a red thread and a clear, crystallised goal on the horizon. They wanted to take positive impact from a one-off event to a guiding norm at the heart of Mediateko’s business and aim for B Corp certification.
“B Corp and its impact assessment tool has, from the very beginning, made the process clearer and more manageable. Literally the size of the planet, and our role in it, is structured in a tangible way, making it much easier to set goals and plan to achieve them.” Teemu Kontkanen, CEO of Mediateko, sums up.
“Of course it’s work. Just in terms of the English language version of the tool, to understand the nuances and how things relate to your business. Particularly when responding to the ever-increasing demands on development, you have to be able to look beyond the future. But that’s what fascinates us about the whole business. Going forward.”
Artlab: For the love of sound and the world
Artlab’s clientele includes a wide range of companies, associations, private individuals and public sector actors – from presidents to punk bands, the autographs on the studio’s wall are familiar. The team of creators behind countless podcasts, films, audiobooks, commercials, recordings and even events approach the voice with passion, curiosity and uncompromising professional pride. It is precisely because they believe that sound can change the world.
“For years, we wondered what the point was of producing funny beeps and hoots from speakers when the world around us is in a state of flux. The idea that we were feeding the very system that had created this mess in the first place, felt wrong.” Anttoni Palm, who runs Artlab with the title of headmaster, reflects.
Coming across the concept of net positivity got the Artlab people thinking about what makes audio good in itself. The world of thought fell into its current groove.
“Audio is already environmentally superior to video; it takes a fraction of the amount of electronics needed to produce a film and streaming audio uses only 1% of the data bandwidth used for video. Audio does not expose our brains to a tidal wave of flashing lights, but is a slower and more immersive medium. Audio also removes most of the pressure on appearance; the skin colour, body shape and facial symmetry of the speakers are no longer relevant, only the story matters.”
“Then there’s the handprint. We like to believe that where we have been inspired by Nirvana’s Nevermind, one of our dunes could be the electric shock that triggers change in future generations.”
As Artlab and Fabrik crossed paths on joint projects, the companies quickly found a soul mate. In discussions that dived deeper into the day’s work, it became clear that both shared a common interest in B Corp. Best of all, Fabrik was able to help Artlab in their long-planned pursuit of certification. The first steps on the path have now been taken and the benefits are already visible, according to Antton.
“Doing good has been ingrained in Artlab’s DNA since we started, but we had no idea where to start in the sustainability pie. The B Corp process has brought clarity to what we do: these things need to be addressed and those things are, on average, in place. When you don’t have to think about every parameter and threshold, you can focus on getting things done.”
Writer Timo Kupiainen, B Leader and Impact Strategist
After a year-long process, we are proud to announce that in March 2023, the former advertising agency, now Impact Agency Fabrik, has become the fourth Finnish company to receive the B Corporation certificate, which indicates that the company operates responsibly.
It is a valued and hard-earned international accolade, the key to earning it is comprehensive and verifiable accountability. Our own experience shows that, at its best, sustainability is a journey that reshapes an entire business.
Why B Corp?
Years ago, we realised the importance of aspirational and meaningful storytelling for companies. But credible communication needs to be backed up by real action. We believed that there was a desire for change in business, but that uncertainty about the most impactful changes was slowing it down.
As a result of our active search, we were introduced to the B Corp certification and impressed: finally a credible community and international standards for sustainability development. Amidst the promises of sustainability, B Corp focuses on real impact and is therefore a reliable basis for corporate sustainability work.
In practice, obtaining the certificate requires answering around 200 questions, in which the entire business of the company is examined against the five pillars of sustainability and a certain score is sought. All answers must be verifiable with documentation.
It is estimated that the use of the tool and the associated increase in knowledge and understanding will give participating companies a 5-10 year head start over their competitors, as the process will develop their own business in the direction that the legislation will guide them in the future.
What does holistic responsibility mean?
Our own transformation process started just over a year ago when our ownership changed – Fabrik is now owned by four employees and we have the freedom to develop our company in the direction we want. Along the way, the name also changed, as the word ‘advertising agency’ no longer describes our business.
Today, we also help others to make the same journey and the necessary changes – so that sustainability is truly at the heart of business. Our own strategy is based on, and our own success is now measured against, B Corp’s five pillars of sustainability: environment, community, customers, employees and governance.
As a concrete example, we have a new environmental programme, customer impact indicators, a skills development plan, a pro bono programme and a cultural handbook. Above all, it is about managing sustainability in a long-term, planned and measurable way – not by hunches.
We are already helping three partner companies to meet the requirements for B Corp certification. We are also working on sustainability reports, materiality analyses, designing and implementing external and internal sustainability communication and developing a responsible employer culture. Sustainability development work will ultimately translate into communication and communication efforts. These are Fabrik’s core competences, so there is no need to change partners along the way.
What matters most?
The scale of accountability work is often challenging, but also inspiring for us. So many companies, especially in the SME sector, wrestle with sustainability issues, wondering what is essential or where to start. B Corp helps you focus on the essentials and on a truly impactful and profitable business. However, the certification itself is not the most important goal, but the professional approaches, metrics and tools that the whole process brings to support continuous improvement.
As the leader of B Corp, I believe we must be the change we seek in the world. At Fabrik, we work with the understanding that we are all interdependent and therefore responsible for each other and future generations. All business must be conducted in a way that does not cause unnecessary harm and that allows the results of our activities to be used for the common good in a variety of ways. B Corp is a good way to bring about this kind of change. It is also easier to communicate real change without fear of greenwashing.
More information: CEO Perttu Kouvalainen, email@example.com, phone: 040 057 0270
What links the pioneers of responsible business, such as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Tony’s Chocolonely?
The answer is B Corp – but what does “good business, good people & good ethics” actually mean in terms of business development? And what can the B Corp movement, which is rapidly expanding into the Nordic countries, offer your organisation?
Watch the recording of the webinar held on Monday 20.3.2023 below.
Guests at the webinar:
Henrika Peltola, Danone’s corporate responsibility expert, who will give a first-hand and concrete account of how B Corp is a great tool for companies’ overall responsibility management.
Dieuwertje Damen, Managing Director of the Rainbow Collection in Amsterdam, talks about the B Corp movement, the reasons behind its rapid popularity and the benefits of the network.
14 Why Fabrik has chosen B Corp as a strategic tool and why Finnish companies should also be interested in it / Perttu Kouvalainen, Impact Agency Fabrik
14.15 Tool – the free B Impact Assessment (BIA) takes a holistic look at a company’s business / Henrika Peltola, Danone
14.30 Community – what B Corp’s growth is based on, what it offers and how it is already having an impact on the Central European business scene / Dieuwertje Damen, Rainbow Collection
14.45 Q&A – can my company get a certificate? Where to start? Who can help?
At the end of 2022, we conducted a sustainability survey for businesses and public sector organisations. The aim was to get as good an idea as possible of the current situation of companies on issues such as:
– What sustainability issues are currently on the agenda of the organisations?
– What help or information do they need for decision-making in 2023?
– Where is sustainability information being obtained, how is the available information perceived and where is there a particular need for more information?
We sent the survey to a total of 50 companies. The following sectors responded to the questionnaire:
Specialist and consultancy services
Trade and commerce
Culture and arts
In the survey, we divided sustainability into four areas – people, environment, society and customers. This is a familiar pattern from the B Corp certificate, which Fabrik and many other companies around the world use in sustainability projects. Read more about B Corp and sustainability certification on our website.
Business vs Public Sector
It was a pleasure to see how many organisations have already started working on sustainability. As many as 83% of respondents said that sustainability is at the heart of their business.
There were a few differences of emphasis in the responses on the topics. 91% of companies responded that environmental issues were in the pipeline, with the same figure for human resources-related sustainability issues. On the other hand, the emphasis on social issues is lower at 75%.
We also asked what issues are particularly on the agenda at the moment in the different areas. Below are highlights of the responses:
What is the need for information and where is it sought?
When we asked what the need for sustainability information will be in 2023, the most popular responses were on sustainability reporting and the CSRD (Social Resbonsibilty Directive: Directive on the promotion of sustainability in management systems and its reporting). The need for ESG information also emerged clearly in the responses.
We also found it particularly interesting to ask where sustainability information is currently being sought. Here are the top 10 of the information search:
Webinars 83 %
Events and seminars 83 %
Blog articles 67 %
News sites 67 %
LinkedIn 50 %
Literature 50 %
Podcasts 25 %
Websites 17 %
It was also clear from the survey that people already know how to find information from credible sources; 100% of respondents considered the information available to them to be reliable. However, there is still room for improvement in the clarity of information, with 73% of respondents finding the available information clear.
1) Take a holistic view of corporate responsibility – it is worth considering how this is currently implemented in your organisation.
2) There is understandably a lot of interest in sustainability reporting. Through EU legislation, regulation of larger companies will increase in the coming years, but consumer and stakeholder demand for holistic accountability and transparency is a theme that SMEs and organisations should already be responding to.
3) Aim for clarity in your own sustainability communication – it benefits everyone from consumers to employees
Thank you for your interest! If you are interested in hearing more about this topic in the future, please join our newsletter list. We will also keep you informed about upcoming sustainability events, such as our webinars.
Last year ended on a high note for our B Corp journey, with Fabrik co-founding B Local Helsinki and our own application for certification moving forward. Before I tell you what this year has in store, a few words about B Corp.
Why B Corp?
B Corp is a non-profit organisation whose holistic corporate responsibility tool is used by over 500,000 companies around the world. It is not limited to a single product or a specific part of the supply chain, but cuts across the whole business (management, employees, community, environment and customers).
It is strongly business-driven: to harness the power of business for good, as B Corp’s core belief is, businesses need to grow and thrive. In the midst of sustainability promises, B Corp focuses on real impact and is therefore a credible base for corporate sustainability work.
Finland as a top priority
This year, Finland is the number one priority for the European B Corp movement. This means that companies that join will have a particularly fast turnaround time for their certification and will be able to capitalise on this, both in terms of their own reputation and the wider visibility of the movement in the Nordic countries.
Why is this? Because B Corp is widely used in Central Europe and the aim is to create the same wave in the Nordic countries. There are currently 77 B Corp certified companies in the Nordic countries and around 50 companies in the process of certification. By 2023, the number of companies is expected to grow to over 200. Globally, there are more than 6,000 certified companies and expectations for growth are high.
B Local Helsinki – get involved!
It has been a privilege to get to know the existing B Corp companies in Finland. We are in different industries, but the attitude is the same. As in other cities around the world, we decided to create our own local community in Helsinki.
This year will bring at least the following:
Awareness and visibility for the B Corp movement
A lot of new Finnish potential companies
B Local Helsinki meetings (open to all)
A lot of new contacts and new people who want to get involved in B Corp activities (March is B Corp Month – you’ll hear more soon)
Hopefully one big seminar at the end of the year
We’d be very happy to tell you more for anyone interested. Fabrik already has one B Leader and soon another, as in a few days I will also start a B Corp training sprint of about 3 months in Stockholm. Have a great and impressive year – for all of us!
Written by Jonna Ekroos, Fabrik’s Communications Strategist and Partner
congratulations on the past year, you survived despite the turbulence of the world. Now it’s time to take a break – and reflect on your future choices. Wouldn’t it be great if, at the turn of the year, you made a promise and choices that will carry you through the years and ensure the success of your business? Decide that your business is here to do more good than harm?
We are talking, of course, about the responsibility of your company. No, don’t skip this message because you think you are already responsible or because it’s everywhere.
The reason is this: as a strategy, sustainability is the safest – and at the moment, the most inspiring.
What is happening in other companies?
But don’t worry if you’re not far along in your career. The good news is that now is the right time. But the right time for what?
According to our November 2022 survey, there are a wide range of relevant items on the sustainability to-do list of Finnish companies (pictured below). So, sustainability is increasingly being looked at holistically – and now is the right time:
Launch your sustainability work (if it’s still in your desk drawer)
Invest in impact (if you don’t yet know what’s most relevant
Corporate responsibility work right now:
Staff: well-being at work, responsible management, inclusion, code of ethics
Society: social impact, green transition, human rights
Customers: customer education, promotion of circular economy, transparency of operations
Other issues: supply chain sustainability, communication development, stakeholder consultation
How to manage your impact – 5 point checklist
At the end of the day, it’s about developing your business and making sure that your business will be around for the future. When you understand the impact of your business, focus on developing the most relevant ones, and communicate that to employees and customers, you’ve chosen a very safe – but also inspiring – strategy.
1 Think holistically
It’s worth thinking about sustainability in a broader context. For example, the international B Corp community and its certification look at sustainability from the perspectives of management, employees, community, environment and customers. This also opens up wider opportunities for influence.
2 Make strategic choices
Sustainability in your core business matters most. That’s why it pays to look for direction in your organisation’s impact. What will give you the greatest positive impact – and what will give you the greatest competitive advantage?
3 Break it down into objectives and measures
Within the broad picture, it is worth separating short- and long-term objectives and the measures and indicators based on them. A well-designed action plan will ensure that work is not just talk, but is at the heart of day-to-day activities.
4 Track success
Shared responsibility does not work here either. The action plan should clearly define responsibilities and where and how they will be shared. Sustainability reporting is already on the work list of many smaller companies, as it meets consumer expectations and can be used to verify promises made.
5 Communicate and engage throughout the process
Sustainability is not visible on the surface, which is why communication matters. Take care of the ‘hygiene’ first, for example internal communication and building a credible foundation. To get a competitive edge from the work you do, you also need emotive content and to get people involved.
An inspiring example – how did Patagonia do it?
When people talk about responsible companies, the US outdoor brand Patagonia often comes to mind. Founded in 1973, the company has been committed to sustainability and nature values throughout its existence.
Indeed, Patagonia has been a pioneer in the outdoor industry as a whole. Its focus on sustainability is on the products themselves and their continuous development. At the same time, it has also extended its sustainability work strongly into social responsibility as part of the B Corp community and certification since 2011. Good work has been reflected in Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Diversity and Best Companies to Work For lists.
In addition to Patagonia, inspiring grassroots efforts include Ben & Jerry’s, Danone and the Body Shop – all part of the B Corp community, which has the advantage of a business mindset. B Corp certification aims to develop a company holistically: and to harness the power of business for good, in line with the B Corp philosophy, companies need to grow and thrive. Therefore, in addition to social and environmental impact, the magnifying glass is equally focused on financial performance.
Patagonia is therefore a shining example of how it is possible to make your own business thrive in the quest to make the world a fairer, more equitable and more sustainable place. The results are not just below the line, but also in the following: your customers love you, the best people want to work for your company, and partners and investors committed to sustainability want to join your organisation.
Thank you for your time and for reading our annual newsletter, we wish you good luck and success in 2023!
In late June, I promised in my B as Benefit article (https://fabrik.fi/vaikuttavuusarviointi/) to keep you updated on how our B Corp journey is progressing. As I mentioned in the same article, there is plenty of pent-up demand for social change leaders. As for the official B Corp certification, we are still patiently waiting for our assessment report.
But we have not stood idly by. The comprehensive battery of questions in the B Impact Assessment tool (BIA), the backbone of the certification, brought to our tables a number of areas for development that we have been actively pursuing over the summer and autumn. Personally, over the last couple of months, I have been immersed in the world of B Corp and above all in the BIA assessment tool I mentioned above in the B Leader Intensive Coaching. However, the motivation for attending the first possible course in Copenhagen was not the fancy-sounding title, but our desire to help others benefit from the opportunities offered by B Corp. In the future, there will be more than one B Leader in Fabrik.
So what is it about B Corp that interests companies?
In short: business orientation. B Corp certification is about developing a company as a whole, rather than a single product or a specific part of a supply chain, for example. To use the power of business for good, in line with the B Corp philosophy, companies need to grow and prosper. That is why, in addition to social and environmental performance, the magnifying glass is equally focused on economic performance, and the scoring system used for certification provides a particular incentive to develop a business model with a positive impact.
In my own experience, companies are well aware of the need for change and the will to change is high. The challenge ahead is not knowing how. In the big picture, as with individual sustainability issues, it is important to first understand what is at stake and what is relevant to you. For that, B Corp offers a great tool in the form of the B Impact Assessment.
A concrete tool for sustainability assessment and management
The assessment tool, which adapts to the sector, the size of the company and the responses given, is based on five pillars (governance, people, customers, environment, community) that really challenge you to develop your own activities to a more sustainable level and open your eyes to issues that might otherwise be overlooked. BIA also works well in the transition to impact management and continuous improvement. It includes the opportunity to set your own targets, compare your own performance with other companies and pick up best practices for your own company.
Best of all, the tool is freely available to everyone and is completely free to use to assess, develop and manage the impact of your business – even if certification is not something you are interested in right now. Of course, the language is English and the terms are challenging to say the least, but it’s worth a look: https://bcorporation.eu/become-a-b-corp/b-impact-assessment/
Author Timo Kupiainen, Fabrik’s Impact Strategist & B Leader