Becoming a B Corp, Part 2: Health & wellbeing should be policy, not a nice-to-have

By Leah Forsyth-Steel, MD at HarrimanSteel

©Matt Blease

August 6th.
Before I launch into the latest, I feel like it’s relevant to circle back to the start. What is a B Corp certification, actually?

B Corp is bandied about a lot – particularly in our industry. I feel confident saying that most people know what it means in essence and, more so, they see the reputational value in being able to make the claim that they are one. But essence and rep aside… What is a B Corp?

To clarify:
B Corps are businesses that act in ways that benefit society as a whole. What defines them is their belief that the purpose of a company is not just profits, but also social and environmental good.

So why would a small independent creative agency want this certification? Why would we jump through the minimum of 80 necessary hoops to gain this? And more importantly, what kind of changes would we need to make in order to achieve it?

We’re still in the early ‘improvement’ stages and admittedly it’s taking a while (it’s a busy year!). Currently, I’m submerged in an Employee Handbook. Yes, that’s right. Surely you have one too, right? A dusty tome in the basement?

In the spirit of full transparency (as it’s much more interesting), in all my years working at and running HS, it had never crossed my mind. We have policies, we care, we look out for our staff. But was there ever any information for staff to access discreetly? Was there a procedure that could help them navigate personal/professional terrain that might be damaging to their wellbeing? I am ashamed to admit that there was not.

Handbooks aren’t just for the big fish. You don’t need a staff of 200 to justify a sexual harassment policy. You don’t need to be part of a global corporation to warrant having a wellbeing policy. If you employ any number of people, then they deserve to know where you stand and how you’ll protect them within the workplace. And – more importantly – they need to have the freedom be able to access the specifics at any time.

HarrimanSteel is the sum of its team. We’re a small team and every role is big – it has value and, therefore, so does the individual that fills it. We want to make sure we do right by society, and that starts with the very people that make up our team.

So… I’m slogging away formulating policies, crafting an informative but spicy looking handbook, with the hope that I can assure our modest-sized but mighty team that we have their back. That we understand their very human, personal needs, and how our work environment can support them.

Here are some links to some great resources I’ve found along the way:

Independent Creative Agency. Culturally rooted and globally active.