Last June, Bank Australia was given B Corp status – or what they call the “mark of trust” from B Lab. From one B Corp to another, we’d like to welcome Bank Australia into the family.
Being awarded B Corp certification is a bit like visiting a GP and receiving a clean bill of health – except imagine this GP is an integrative, holistic doctor who has spent months measuring not only the common markers of physical health, but also your spiritual, mental and emotional vitality, plus that of your family, as well as your efforts to effect real and lasting positive change in the world around you.
Far from being a label that’s handed out willy-nilly, B Corporations are subject to an incredibly rigorous application process that evaluates every possible aspect of a business. They are organisations that can prove they are striving to have a positive impact on the five B Corp pillars: workers, community, environment, governance and customers. They are transparent in their operations and they balance profit with purpose.
The certification assessment is so in-depth that it leaves no room for greenwashing: a B Corp stamp is the ultimate symbol of authenticity. It’s an initiation into a community of like-minded, purpose-led organisations galvanised and gathered together under the one (sustainable) umbrella.
Given the values represented by both Bank Australia and B Lab (and how aligned they are), the only thing that’s surprising is that the bank didn’t become a B Corp sooner.
For around two decades, Bank Australia has been paving the way for ethical banking in this country. These days, the bank is especially adamant about only investing its customers’ money in industries it can stand behind: while other banks might finance the fossil fuel, gambling, tobacco or live export trades, Bank Australia funnels your funds into environmental or social projects – such as those that support renewable energy schemes, not-for-profit organisations and housing for people living with disability.
It’s an impressive resume. So, why did Bank Australia only decide to join the family last year?
“We’d been watching the B Corp framework develop and become a really powerful tool over the last few years,” says Fiona Nixon, Bank Australia’s Head of Strategy.
“We reached a point at the end of 2018 where we started to realise that there was even more impact that we could have and more influence that we could have by being part of the B Corp community and starting to share and learn from businesses that are across different parts of the economy, not just banking.”
Rather than being put off by B Lab’s methodical poking and prodding of the entire organisation, Bank Australia became even more convinced that this was a certification worth having. It doesn’t stop with being certified, either — organisations are reviewed every three years in order to re-qualify.
Fiona says that the assessment questionnaire alone is a valuable tool in gauging where a business is at in its purpose-led journey, and that becoming a B Corp has made Bank Australia a better organisation, illuminated their areas for improvement and encouraged them to strive towards new goals.
It’s created an internal environment where staff members are “all pulling in the same direction”, and opened up paths for collaboration with other B Corps.
With thousands of B Corps now certified worldwide and over 200 in Australia — including Small Giants, Impact Investment Group, Australian Ethical, Future Super, Who Gives a Crap and KeepCup — Bank Australia is in pretty good company.
Ultimately, a planet where businesses strive to score points for purpose is a healthier planet. If you’re a consumer, look for the B Corp symbol. If you’re a for-purpose business, have a think about embarking on the B Corp path. It might seem that you have a long way to go, or that your organisation can’t make a difference, but it’s worth going on the journey and finding out how you can be a more potent force for good in the world.
“Even if you’re a relatively small company, there’s a lot you can do if you have a vision and a desire to be a purpose-driven business,” says Fiona.
Learn more about Bank Australia here.