We know we want Blume to do good things for society, we know we want to behave responsibly as an organisation and we know we want to have a social impact at scale. But it has taken a while to work out what sort of structure will achieve this.
Initially we thought about registering as a charity or as a Community Interest Company (CIC). These structures embed social purpose and values in a formal way and make it easier, particularly at the start, to access funding and soft support from government, charities and foundations in the form of partnerships or promotion.
The downside is that as a charity or CIC it is very hard to achieve social impact at scale. Without the potential of a financial return we would not get the private investment we need to grow. But of course the danger of being a purely profit-driven business is that you lose sight of your original mission and values as you chase targets for investors.
So we have instead decided to apply to become a B-Corp. This is a certification given to businesses who balance purpose and profit. In order to achieve and retain the status of a B-Corp we have to demonstrate that we manage the business ethically in a number of hard and provable ways. For example it measures your pay ratios, the diversity of your suppliers and how much you give back to your community in time and money.
It’s not perfect – there is an element of subjectivity in deciding what is and isn’t ‘good’ – but so far we have been impressed by the process. It requires a proper investment of time and money and even the act of going through the application process has made us think about how we can improve the way we run things. But with any luck this structure will enable us to do good, behave responsible and achieve impact at scale.