Stride Treglown joins B Corp movement

Stride Treglown has announced it is the first major UK architectural practice to become certified as a B Corp, an international accreditation that 'puts purpose ahead of profit'.

The Bristol-based practice follows South London outfit Kennedy Woods, which achieved the B Corp stamp of approval in 2019.

The B Corp movement – which is overseen by the B Lab Global Network – was founded in the US in 2006 as a way of certifying businesses' positive impact on employers, communities, and the environment.

To achieve B Corp certification, companies have to undergo rigorous testing and must answer 240 exam-style questions on everything from salary levels to energy performance and the ethical credential of their supply chain. Certification is renewed every three years. 

Describing the six-month assessment process as 'challenging and rigorous' the team at Stride Treglown said it had every aspect of its business scrutinised.

Pierre Wassenaar, the board director at Stride Treglown who led the process, said he first heard about B Corp accreditation when Bristol-based tea company Pukka achieved the status: "It questioned transactional business model, and since we became an employee-owned organisation, I'd been seeking a tool that would help us to measure how we are doing socially and environmentally."

Wassenaar said the process 'forced us to take a deep breath on everything we do'.

He added: "This was an incredibly detailed assessment of every aspect of what we do and threw up a few surprises. But the whole point of going through the accreditation process isn't to pat ourselves on the back, but to highlight the areas where we can be doing better – then make a plan to address those."

The process has identified areas for improvement. For example, Wassenaar said that though the practice switched to an employee ownership structure in 2015, currently only 25 per cent of Stride Treglown is staff-owned, compared with the B Corp standard of 40 per cent.

Stride Treglown believes that the principles behind the B Corp movement are critical to the future success not just of the practice, but of the whole built environment sector.

Chairman David Hunter said: "The need to balance the demands of people, planet and profit have never been more urgent against the backdrop of a world in the midst of a pandemic and an ever-increasing climate emergency.

"Whilst the industry has been taking steps in various areas, from environmental initiatives to diversity, and conversations about social value, we need to bring all these together and embed them into how we all run our businesses and how we work together to tackle the enormous challenges of the coming years."

The first B Corps in the UK were announced in 2015, since when more than 450 companies from across all sectors of business have gained certification.

The UK's is the world's fastest-growing B Corp community, with a combined revenue of more than £4.3 billion.

This article originally appeared on Architects' Journal by Ella Jessel

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