We're a B Corp!

We're a B Corp!

We built this business to change the olive oil industry for good. Having a more positive social and environmental impact is something we talk about every single day. So, what’s the “B Corp” certification and why did we think it was important?

When we first drafted out our business plan, we aligned it to a triple-bottom line: people, planet, and profit.

The whole reason for being a business came from a very real problem we saw, and that’s this:

Olive oil is a broken system.

It’s a commodity model where farmers are squeezed and, as a direct result, they don’t make enough income, the land is degraded, the quality suffers, and what ends up on our plates is a bland, lifeless shadow of everything this fresh oil should be. It’s lacking the nutrition, and flavour—and just completely disconnected and unappreciative of the people and places at the source.

Having worked at Provenance.org, a sustainability pioneer in the traceability and transparency space, I (Sarah) applied every bit of what I was learning at my day job into the foundations of what would become Citizens of Soil.

While our focus was and continues to be on championing small-scale farmers, we started shaping more of our decisions around this simple idea:

“Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” (—Anna Lappé)

This has led us to support and prioritise female producers, seek out regenerative farmers, create a circular refill model for our products, and reach out to leaders in the sustainability space to help us lower our footprint.

To date, we’ve already:

But we recognise that while we’re growing, we want to hold ourselves to the highest standards and be accountable to the very progress we’re working towards. And for us, this meant joining B Corp’s global community...

Citizens of Soil olive oil being poured over food with a B corp logo

What is a B Corporation™?

B Corps are companies that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. B Corp Certification means that a company has been verified as meeting the high standards set out by their B Lab, that the company has made a legal commitment to stakeholder governance, and that it is demonstrating accountability and transparency by disclosing this record of performance in a public B Corp profile.

What does the B stand for?

“B” here stands for “Benefit for all”—which is something we didn’t even know until we finished our impact assessment.

And what a truly noble cause. “All” in this context is talking about all stakeholders—workers, communities, customers, and our planet.

The B Global Network helps mobilise those in the B Corp movement towards changing the economic system to positively impact those stakeholders that are often not brought up in business boardrooms.

What did we have to do?

We started the process before we even had our first hire, so we had loads of policies to create as a start-up business.

Over the year-long project, we had to provide documentation demonstrating everything from how we contribute to our new employees’ financial and personal well-being, to full details around our suppliers and their practices as well.

Mission, action, measurement, and evidence—it all comes into play.

How we were different.

While we don’t own our groves and we’re not olive oil producers, we work closely with them and the majority of the money in our business goes directly into the hands of farmers.

This meant that B Corp had to label us as an agricultural business (quite literally we are labelled as a part of the “Agriculture/Growers” sector), so our process looked different than other consumer brands as our industry was “Agricultural Processing” and not just a typical food & drink or retail business.

Yes, we have beautiful packaging and you can find us on shelves at some of the UK’s biggest and most respected stores (Waitrose, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason), but our biggest impact is with agriculture—and digging into that took quite a bit of work!

But we’re actually quite proud of that as it underpins the beating heart of our business—the farmers and the land.

What is the commitment?

We basically have a baseline now to build upon. We have loads of work to do as a business, but also so much progress we want to make— particularly in the farming space.

We’re now planning our goals for our impact report and establishing the wins we want to achieve by the next certification cycle (because yes, you have to do this all over again in 3 years).

As a part of this, all B Corps sign a “Declaration of Interdependence” as part of their certification. This is about embodying the values of the B Corp community and committing to work towards our collective vision.

Here’s that declaration, which we’ll leave you with now:

WE ENVISION A GLOBAL ECONOMY THAT USES BUSINESS AS A FORCE FOR GOOD.
THIS ECONOMY IS COMPRISED OF A NEW TYPE OF CORPORATION - THE B CORPORATION - WHICH IS PURPOSE-DRIVEN AND CREATES BENEFIT FOR ALL STAKEHOLDERS, NOT JUST SHAREHOLDERS.
AS B CORPORATIONS AND LEADERS OF THIS EMERGING ECONOMY, WE BELIEVE:
THAT WE MUST BE THE CHANGE WE SEEK IN THE WORLD.
THAT ALL BUSINESS OUGHT TO BE CONDUCTED AS IF PEOPLE AND PLACE MATTER.
THAT, THROUGH THEIR PRODUCTS, PRACTICES, AND PROFITS, BUSINESSES SHOULD ASPIRE TO DO NO HARM AND BENEFIT ALL.
TO DO SO REQUIRES THAT WE ACT WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT WE ARE EACH DEPENDENT UPON ANOTHER AND THUS RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER AND FUTURE GENERATIONS.

 

If you have any questions about our B Corp certification, don’t hesitate to reach out and chat with us at oliveus@citizensofsoil.com. You can also view our public profile with B Corp here.

@citizensofsoil

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