The second edition of the EADA B Impact Teams concluded successfully this past August. This extracurricular consulting initiative brings participants of our full time International Master and MBA programmes together with real companies willing to receive a baseline impact assessment and action plan report following the standards and framework provided by the B Corp certification of the B Corp Movement. Certified B Corporations™ (B Corps™) are for-profit companies that use the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. They meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
Participants that take part in the B Impact Teams receive a specialized training from real consultants in the application of the B Impact Assessment Tool, an open source platform to track the companies’ performance and benchmark their practices to their industry. The teams need to work closely with the assigned company in gathering all the relevant data, understanding their business model and their mission to provide them with a thorough assessment and brief report containing long and short-term objectives and actions that improve the company’s performance. The B Impact Teams initiative is ran in collaboration with B – Lab Spain, local representatives of the movement.
We interviewed some of the participants that went the extra mile this summer and took part in this year’s edition, here are their main takeaways from the experience:
What motivated you to join the initiative?
“We saw the B-Impact Team initiative as part of EADA’s optional extended programme as a unique opportunity to turn theoretical learnings from our master into practice with a real company. We also considered that this hands-on project was a way to actively contribute to the “B the change” movement, explain Niklas Bolt, Veronika Bitter and Maria del Sel, teamembers that worked with the company Tunga.IO an innovative transaction platform based in Uganda that links African developers to international software projects.
“B-Impact is internationally recognized as one of the most important certifications businesses can obtain to demonstrate that they are doing business in the right way. As a Master student in Sustainability and Innovation, it was an incredible opportunity I had to grasp to learn more about how the B Corp certified companies in primis, and moreover to test my knowledge in a real life scenario, assisting a business in the process of certifying its sustainability efforts.” Added Lorenzo Cajati, part of the team working for Organic Cotton Colours, a company based in Girona that cultivates 100% organic cotton and produces fabrics and fashion and household garments for consumers and companies.
What has been the biggest take-away from the experience?
“I realized that as a normal consumer it’s almost impossible to assess whether a company is truly sustainable or not. Only by getting the company documents or having the sustainability manager answering concrete questions one is able to judge the degree of commitment,” says Sophie Think, part of the team that worked with Brava Fabrics, a a fashion brand based in Barcelona that produces high quality sustainable organic cotton clothing using a timeless and creative design approach.
“The most challenging part for me was at the same time the most insightful: the rigour and vastness of scope the BIA encompasses. Gaining information on the most minute details of what seems to be every aspect of social and environmental performance of the company was simultaneously challenging and eye-opening to the kind of areas of importance when evaluating the impact of a company”. Added Lina Baumstark, part of the team that worked with Organa Beauty & Wellbeing an online e-commerce based in the UK that curates the best clean, sustainable, independent brands of beauty and well-being products.
“We realized that their prospective score (of company OCC) was already very high, and that most practices which would have increased it even further were already implicitly part of the company’s culture. This made me realize that there could be numerous small to medium sized businesses in the market which might be on the right track to be potentially B certified, even unknowingly, but might lack the documentation needed for such transition.” continued Lorenzo of team OCC.
What has been the most challenging part?
“The tool itself is simple and intuitive but applying it is more complex than expected. There are many elements to consider, the questions go very much into detail and aim for specific areas, they are very specific to type and size and location of the company, business model and industry.” Explain Veronika, Niklas and Maria from team Tunga.
“Another challenge was to develop conceptual recommendations and guidelines into practical and realistic actions, considering resource limitations and all the different stakeholders’ interests,” they continued.
Lorenzo from OCC also highlights the complexity of generating a valuable improvement report “The most challenging aspect of the challenge might have been the need to truly understand the goals and objectives of the business we were consulting, in order to align our improvement strategy to their planned company growth.”
What is the most valuable thing you have learned so far?
“I think the most valuable thing I learned from this experience is to see how a sustainability consultant would work: asking the right questions and being in close contact with the company representatives” says Sohie Think. “I will probably use this tool (BIA) very often in my career” added Maria Candida de Mello, also part of the team working with Organic Cotton Colours.
MBA’s share their perspective
The B Impact Teams mixes both International Masters and MBAs in the process. The exercise presents as an opportunity to continue the leadership development of our participants and encourage networking across full time programs of the School.
“A sustainable approach isn’t so much a trend as an absolute necessity today. As an MBA student, it was really important for me to integrate the sustainability facet to my business outlook” says Vismay Trivedi, MBA class of 2020 when asked about the reasons for joining the initiative. Tamara Braun from the same class adds “Beyond wanting to incorporate these concerns into the workplace I would like to demonstrate to the companies in which I am looking for job opportunities with more knowledge on the subject”.
The process has been as enriching for them as it was from the Masters. Vismay highlights that one of his biggest learnings from the process was that ”Being truly sustainable means integrating it within your value proposition – having it be the purpose of your organization rather than a by-product of processes.” Tamara on her end saw that “little steady changes can make a difference, it is not necessary to cover everything from the first instance”.
When asked if they recommend the initiative to future MBAs Vismay adds “Definitely recommend. It’s a great way to broaden your horizons on a very important subject while consulting for an actual company on practical solutions.” Tamara reflects also on the outcomes of the process “it tries to introduce more critical and empathetic spirit in the MBA profile (..) Being a more senior profile and aiming at higher management roles we require more social responsibility”.