In an era where purpose-driven business models take centre stage, Area, a Fourfront Group company, has not only defined its identity but also reshaped its trajectory through a commitment to its core values.
Gary Chandler, CEO of Area, experts in designing and delivering workplace environments across the UK and wider Europe, sheds light on the significance of purpose for the company, the transformative impact of B Corp certification, and the tangible benefits observed by both clients and employees. As one of the first in their industry to achieve the prestigious certification, Chandler delves into the initiatives and commitments that are shaping the company's sustainable future.
As Area marks its one-year anniversary of being B Corp certified, Chandler reflects on the journey undertaken and the milestones achieved during this transformative year. This article was originally published on Raconteur.com.
This article was originally published on Raconteur.com.
Why is purpose so important to Area?
Purpose is the guiding force behind Area's journey. For years, we've undertaken numerous positive initiatives without a cohesive narrative to share our story. Our B Corp certification provided us with the framework to articulate our efforts in ESG, encompassing how we support our people, clients, and so much more. It's about embodying responsible business practices that align with our core values.
Our B Corp certification has become a moral compass for us, influencing every conversation and decision. It's not just an accreditation; it's a methodology that allows us to scrutinise our business holistically. The engagement of our team – all 25 of our ‘B Keepers’ from across the Group – emphasises the importance of a collective approach.
Has the business changed as a result of B Corp certification?
Absolutely. The certification gave us the confidence to acknowledge that we were already doing many things well. It coincided with the reaffirmation of our commitments as a responsible business, prompting the appointment of a new Head of Sustainability for the Group – a newly created position for the company. Unlike some traditional certifications that may have a tendency to gather dust, B Corp lives and breathes within our business. The ongoing gap analysis in different sections of our impact assessment pushes us to ask, "How can we do better?" It has sparked initiatives that go beyond a static evaluation, including addressing our scope 1, 2 and 3 CO2e emissions – targets that have been verified by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi).
B Corp is a tool for evaluating our business in various domains, fostering a cultural shift. It emphasises that being a responsible business is not just a task for a specific department but requires the involvement of the entire organisation.
Do your clients and employees see a benefit?
We actively engage our clients on this journey. Activities like our newly established Project Positive Initiative aims to enhance environmental and social engagement around project delivery, showcasing both of our responsibility to sustainability in the widest sense. Our commitments have resonated, and we see a shift in client conversations. Our clients are increasingly interested in the environmental aspects of projects, demonstrating that our commitment is influencing the industry discourse.
B Corp has not only made us conscious of our impact but has empowered us to advise clients on broader sustainability considerations. It's a journey, and we're seeing an increase in the number of clients who are now seeking our insights on sustainability.
The commitment to our core values not only defines who we are but also reshapes our trajectory, creating tangible benefits for our dedicated workforce. Our newly reestablished learning and development program reflects our commitment to nurturing our people and fostering a culture with a sense of belonging. The program, designed with our company’s fast-paced environment in mind, focuses on topics such as wellbeing, managerial skills, individual skill development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (ED&I) training.
What's next for Area and the wider Fourfront Group in this area?
We're committed to significant initiatives that set us apart in our industry. Addressing our short-term and long-term greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, particularly in a carbon-intensive sector, demonstrates our forward-thinking spirit. Beyond this, we're introducing a green pension scheme, a landmark move, that aligns with B Corp's focus on responsible business with purpose.
The gap analysis from our impact assessment guides our next steps. We're always considering how to improve, using the assessment as a tool for continuous enhancement. Our focus on environmental consultancy, providing clients with further support around sustainability strategies and impactful accreditation schemes, underscores our commitment to advocate for sustainability beyond our own footprint.
B Corp isn't just a certification for us; it's a commitment to a legacy. We're proud of our values aligning with the B Corp ethos, and we're dedicated to pushing boundaries and setting new benchmarks for sustainable business practices.
For more information about our journey and our workplace transformation services, please get in touch.
CEO, Fourfront Group