Becoming a recognised B Corp was no easy task, but it is our proudest accomplishment!
When Y.O.U first applied for this certification back in December 2020, we were a small team of 3 determined to have a big impact. After over a year of hard work, we received our B Corporation accreditation in November 2021, achieving a record score.
To celebrate the start of B Corp month, we’re taking you #BehindTheB and reflecting on our journey to becoming the highest scoring B Corp in the UK.
What is a B Corp?
Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are companies verified by B Lab to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. The certification is unique in evaluating social and environmental policies across the entire supply chain. In practice, B Corps measure their business operations in the five key impact areas of Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers.
The B Corp community is now a global movement of business leaders committed to people and the planet. Underpinning this is a shared belief that our most challenging problems cannot be solved by governments and nonprofits alone. Rather, “by harnessing the power of business, B Corps commit to positively impact all stakeholders – workers, communities, customers, and our planet”.
Why We Became a B Corp
From the very beginning, ethics, sustainability and giving back have been at the heart of everything we do. Y.O.U already had a number of certifications that testify to this, including Fairtrade, GOTS, SA8000 and Living Wage Employer which you can read more about here.
Our next goal was to become B Corp certified because it is a holistic accreditation that reaffirms these commitments. We believe that businesses can and should be a force of good, so this was further proof that purpose, people and planet mean more to us than profit.
To have our work backed up by something as respected as a B Corp certification was an important step in building trust and support for our message, especially when greenwashing is so commonplace in this industry. Ultimately, Y.O.U Wanted to join a brilliant movement and to add our voices to the call to do business better and differently
The Assessment Process
The certification process is extremely rigorous to ensure that verified companies achieve a minimum score of 80. We started preparing for this journey during the first lockdown with the goal of submitting our application by the end of 2020. After extensive research, we began to complete the application in September that year, using the B Impact Assessment as a tool to measure our social and environmental performance.
Throughout the application process we had to provide evidence of socially and environmentally responsible practices relating to energy supplies, waste and water use, worker compensation, diversity and corporate transparency. We also had to meet the B Corp legal requirement by amending our Articles of Association to embed a commitment to consider the impact of decisions on all stakeholders.
The B Impact Assessment is a serious undertaking, so we couldn’t have done it alone! It was so valuable to get the input of local B Leaders and the Oxfordshire B Local group. We also greatly appreciated the help of other small businesses who readily shared their tips and learnings.
In December 2020, we finally felt confident enough to submit our application. The verification process began 10 months later because so many amazing brands were applying to become a B Corp. Shortly after, we received confirmation that we were officially certified. All that was left to do was to sign the B Corp Agreement and the Declaration of Interdependence.
As of December 2021, Y.O.U Underwear is the highest scoring fashion brand globally and the highest scoring B Corp in the UK with a record score of 160.5!
The assessment process was definitely challenging and took us nearly 18 months to complete. To come out the other side with such a high score validated what we are doing. Not only had we satisfied the criteria but we had achieved a score of more than double the required 80. This places us at the top of the UK B Corp List, meaning you can put your trust in our sustainable mission and credentials.
We are so proud to join a community of 4,600 businesses globally. Y.O.U Underwear is now one of the 640 B Corps operating in the UK, representing 55 industries and over 39,500 employees. Together we can make a difference and lead by example.
While we continue to celebrate our B Corp certification, our work is far from done. Getting accredited was not an end-goal, but an important milestone in Y.O.U’s ongoing mission to make a difference. That’s why we promise to strive to make our underwear, packaging and business more sustainable and ethical, year on year.
We started 2022 by introducing our Take-Back Scheme. Y.O.U partnered with TerraCycle on a textile recycling bin, so our customers can responsibly dispose of old Y.O.U underwear, as well as socks, tights and pants from any other brand. This is the first step to Y.O.U becoming a circular brand and assuming responsibility for the entire lifespan of our undergarments, from production to disposal.
We’re not quite there yet! Currently, because our underwear is made from mixed materials, Terracycle down-cycle them into industry materials, such as insulation, which cannot be recycled again after use. We know it's not a perfect solution but it is better than being thrown in the bin. In the future, we want to introduce a fibre-to-fibre recycling scheme which would allow worn underwear to be recycled and repurposed into new textiles a number of times. This is currently not feasible, both because textile recycling is still in its infancy and existing schemes are very expensive for a brand of our size.
Our Take-Back Scheme is just one of the many ways Y.O.U is trying to do better and we have a lot of other exciting ideas and projects in the works. It might seem ambitious but we’re already on track to donate 23,000 pairs of underwear by 2023. We’re also looking at finding a sustainable alternative for the elastane we use, and are exploring natural dyes. Last year we committed to Net Zero by 2030, but are hoping to achieve it much sooner!
As a small business, it can be difficult to implement the changes you want to see. That’s why we’re so excited to be part of the UK B Corp Community and to have the opportunity to collaborate and learn from other inspiring companies on the B Hive. Thank you for all of your support so far, and for joining us on our sustainable journey. Here's to making fashion more accessible, ethical and planet-friendly!
Written by Melissa Watt