Our score this year is a whopping 55% increase on our previous re-certification score in 2017, and we’re feeling very proud! So, what’s new at EQ Investors (EQ) that has made such a difference?
The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is a publicly accessible management tool that any business can use to think about their impact on all their stakeholders – not just their shareholders. Since we became a founding UK B Corp in 2015, we’ve been using the BIA to think about ways we can really make a difference, in relation to several of our stakeholder groups:
First and foremost are our customers (of course). EQ’s mission is to improve our clients’ wellbeing through good financial planning and to connect capital to sustainable businesses by offering impact investing to everyone. We’ve done a lot over the past three years to up our sustainable investing game – building on the success of our flagship Positive Impact strategy. We now have minimum sustainability standards in place across all our portfolios and launched our passive Future Leaders strategy in 2019 to broaden our reach. Our focus on making our investment process as sustainable as possible scored us 52.7 points in the Customer section of the BIA this time around.
A business is only ever as good as its people – but financial services is often accused of being a bit of a closed-door industry. To combat this, we’ve developed a long-standing relationship with the Resurgo Spear programme, which helps young people who are not in employment, education, or training (‘NEET’) find a job. We’ve being working with Resurgo for almost 5 years and are extremely proud to say that over 10% of our full time staff have joined through the programme. This qualified us for an additional ‘Impact Business Model’ within the BIA and contributed to our score of 45.5 points in the Workers section.
Finally, EQ has always been set up to be a different kind of company – and this time around we were recognised for putting our charitable ownership plan into action. EQ is now more than 20% owned by registered charity The EQ Foundation, which therefore stands to benefit from dividends and a say on the firm’s governance in perpetuity. This mission-focused ownership structure qualified us for a further Impact Business Model and contributed to our 29.1 point score in the Community section of the BIA.
Summary – why we’re a B Corp
Overall, this lengthy, exacting process puts our whole business under a microscope and means subjecting EQ to a lot of external scrutiny, all to evidence just how sustainable we truly are.
Why do we think this is so important? Here are three reasons why we’d recommend any business to look at the B Impact Assessment:
1) What gets measured gets managed
B Corps must complete a detailed impact assessment every three years. This looks at how we treat each of our main stakeholder groups (our clients, employees, suppliers, the communities where we operate, the environment) in detail. Every business needs good management tools to chart its progress over time and identify areas for improvement (in that sense impact management is no different to managing our financial performance or customer service) the B Impact Assessment is our tool of choice.
2) Legal obligations trump voluntary agreements
B Corps code social and environmental purpose into the DNA of their organisations by updating their articles of association (or equivalent governing documents). This means, for example, that EQ Directors are legally obliged to balance stakeholder with shareholder needs when making decisions. You could look at the big commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow and argue that this kind of accountability is exactly what’s missing from the climate debate – which is exactly what we did.
3) Systems change means collaboration
B Corps have a shared sense of purpose which means we ways to collaborate across traditional commercial boundaries, focusing on issues of shared concern like climate change. This is a win-win for us and our competitors alike. The only way to tackle big global problems is by working together – being a B Corp gives us the perfect platform to do this.
Why not join us? Visit bcorporation.uk to find out how.