We are thrilled to announce a significant milestone in our commitment to sustainability and purpose-driven business practices – we are now a Certified B Corporation™ or ‘B Corp’. This achievement is not just a badge; it represents our dedication to rigorous standards of verified performance, accountability and transparency, aligning with the values of the global B Corp movement.
Becoming a B Corp is no small feat. It demands a huge amount of time and effort, and we could not have achieved it without the dedication of every department working to improve their impact.
Read on to learn about our journey to B Corp Certification, what it means to us and our future initiatives. And, discover our in-house Sustainability Manager Sasha Buch’s top tips for businesses thinking about embarking on the B Corp journey in our informative interview with her.
So, what is B Corp and how challenging is it to become certified?
B Corp, short for ‘Benefit for all’ Corporation, is a type of for-profit business that meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. B Corps are certified by a non-profit organisation called B Lab, based on their commitment to balancing purpose and profit.
Unlike traditional businesses that prioritise shareholder value, B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on all stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities and the environment.
To become a certified B Corp, a company must undergo a comprehensive assessment process that evaluates a business’s performance across five key impact areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Customers and Environment. The B Impact Assessment is broken down into specific criteria, and companies must score a minimum of 80 to qualify for certification. The median score for a typical business who completes the assessment is 50.9 points. Spoiler alert – Aurora scored 87.5!
The difficulty of becoming a certified B Corp varies depending on the size and complexity of the business. For businesses like Aurora, with pre-existing strong social and environmental practices, achieving certification may be a natural step. However, for others, it can be a challenging and transformative process that requires significant time and effort to meet the stringent criteria.
What’s more, the certification is not a one-time achievement; B Corps must recertify every three years, encouraging ongoing commitment to positive impact and sustainability.
While the B Corp Certification process can be demanding, it offers businesses the opportunity to align their values with their operations, attract a socially conscious audience, and join a global community of like-minded companies working towards a more sustainable and equitable future.
What does B Corp Certification mean to Aurora?
We take immense pride in being part of the B Corp movement, a community of over 8,000 businesses worldwide dedicated to transforming the global economy into one that is inclusive, sustainable and regenerative. Aurora Expeditions was founded on the same guiding principles as most B Corps, so entry into this community was a long time coming. To put it another way, certification was a means of formalising a range of initiatives, processes and values we already had in place.
Our B Corp journey reflects our deep commitment to our purpose – to create ambassadors for the Planet. It redefines what successful expedition tourism can look like when a business is a force for good. We scored an impressive 87.5 points in the assessment, well above the 80 points required for certification, showcasing our dedication to going above and beyond the typical standards in our industry.
We are now one of two B Corp tour operators taking expeditioners to Antarctica and the Arctic. We are humbled to join Intrepid in leading the way and inspiring positive change in the industry. We firmly believe that leading with purpose is the key to business growth, especially in an industry where there is an increasing demand for deeper and more sustainable travel experiences.
How has it changed us?
Our journey towards B Corp Certification has not only resulted in a prestigious badge but has also led to numerous positive changes within our business beyond our immediate business operations, including:
- Evolving more than 32 policies across people, culture, environment and supply chain;
- A range of initiatives that better support our staff, one of our most important stakeholders;
- Launching our first Impact Report, which holds us accountable to our sustainability initiatives and future goals;
- Enhancing our climate programs;
- Ongoing initiatives with local organisations; and
- Expanding our volunteering efforts across various initiatives.
We continue to follow best practices in reducing GHG emissions, while continuously looking at initiatives to improve our programs tackling emissions. We have been calculating and offsetting our emissions since 2021 and are working towards evolving our climate program. This is an ever-evolving space that we strive to ensure we are always at the forefront of.
Future initiatives and ongoing commitment
Did we mention that recertification occurs every three years? Don’t get us wrong – this is a good thing! In fact, we think it provides a framework for continuous improvement, and we eagerly anticipate the opportunity to undergo an even more rigorous assessment in the future.
In fact, we are committed to increasing our score every time we get recertified, demonstrating our progress as we strive to build a better world through purpose-driven business practices.
Achieving B Corp Certification is not the end but the beginning of a continuous journey towards positive impact and sustainability. We invite other businesses in the industry to embark on the B Corp journey, understanding the importance of purpose-driven practices and involving employees, suppliers and customers every step of the way. Together, we can create a more inclusive, sustainable and regenerative global economy.
Interview with Aurora Expeditions' Sustainability Manager
At the helm of our commitment to sustainable exploration of the world’s wild places is our passionate Sustainability Manager Sasha Buch. Sasha’s passion for preserving our planet transcends the professional sphere and seamlessly integrates into her personal ethos. In both her professional endeavours and personal life, she champions conversations on the intricacies of pressing global issues – from the climate crisis to biodiversity loss and pollution. Sasha believes in educating and creating positive change at every level, from individuals to businesses to government bodies.
We sat down with Sasha to find out more about Aurora’s journey, what B Corp means to her and her top tips for businesses thinking about starting the process to become certified.
It sounds like a lot of work. Why go after B Corp Certification in the first place?
It’s true that there are many certifications that are easier to get! However, we were drawn to B Lab’s rigorous auditing process, emphasis on transparency and commitment to driving economic systems change in support of an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy.
What particularly appealed to us was the legal requirement – that all B Corps must amend their company constitution to be purpose-driven, valuing people and the planet equally with profitability, and considering all stakeholders, including communities and the environment, in business decisions.
This legal commitment is a powerful step for businesses to make. It’s imperative for these conversations happen at the highest level, with people in leadership positions driving change and taking full responsibility for the business impact and supply chains.
What does gaining B Corp Certification mean to you, personally?
Personally, it feels like a step in the right direction for tackling and bringing to the surface some of the world’s most challenging social and environmental issues. B Corps are reshaping the business landscape and actively contributing to positive change. They are doing this by recognising the role they play, the harm they have done and continue to do (sometimes unknowingly), taking responsibility for their actions and committing to be being part of the solution. I am proud to have played my part to get Aurora to where we are, and to be part of this movement! If every business operated with this ethos, we would be living in a very different world.
What were the biggest changes Aurora had to implement to meet B Corp standards?
For us, becoming a B Corp was a natural step in our progression, so luckily no sweeping changes were needed. However, this didn’t mean that the process was a walk in the park. Far from it! To not only meet but surpass B Corp standards, we had to enhance our suite of existing initiatives across our operations, strategically refining our sustainability practices, social impact efforts and corporate governance. This involved strengthening collaborations, ensuring supplier alignment and fostering employee awareness and advocacy.
Where do most businesses fall down?
I think most businesses that don’t succeed in becoming a B Corp fail because they don’t fully commit to sustainability initiatives across all levels of the business. Success depends on active engagement to a transformative journey, not only from executives but also from all employees and key suppliers.
Businesses often fail to acknowledge their role in sustainability challenges, which forms the basis for a collective mindset shift. Recognising their contribution to the problem is a crucial step that needs to be taken for businesses to become part of the solution.
What mechanisms do you have in place for continuous improvement?
The B Corp standards, already stringent on a global scale, continuously evolve to meet even higher benchmarks. The evolving standards adapt to the changing landscape, ensuring certified businesses consistently meet and exceed expectations in transparency, accountability and sustainable practices – effectively raising the bar year after year!
We continue to improve our impact using the current standards and welcome the new standards and opportunities for improvement.
Some key areas we want to focus on include:
- Improving our supply chain management processes;
- Increasing the social and environmental performance of our value chain;
- Mapping our pathway to net-zero emissions in a challenging industry; and
- Enhancements to education on climate to align with our purpose of creating ambassadors for the planet.
How do you think B Corp Certification will impact Aurora Expeditions’ business, both internally and for travellers?
We already have a loyal past guest network comprised of travellers who care about the planet. Many of these travellers chose us because of our diverse sustainability intiatives, including everything from our emphasis on education and enrichment onboard to our Citizen Science Program to our purpose-built ships’ revolutionary X-BOW® design.
Now that we are a certified B Corp, we will continue to attract more and more individuals who align with our values. People trust B Corps because of their focus on transparency and community.
The certification also has flow on effects for our supplies, encouraging us to create a network of like-minded partners committed to doing the right thing.
What is your advice to businesses thinking about embarking on the B Corp journey?
I have five important pieces of advice for businesses thinking about embarking on this exciting journey:
- For businesses in the industry contemplating the B Corp journey, take the time to understand the importance of purpose-driven businesses and how they can drive economic systems change.
- It’s important to note that while we had a dedicated sustainability person to manage the process, it’s essential that every member of the business is on board and committed to actively driving change. Cross-departmental collaboration is vital, with each department leading initiatives to help the business meet B Corp standards.
- Embarking on the B Corp journey is a substantial undertaking, and learning along the way is part of the process. If you need additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out to a B Corp consultant. The B Impact Assessment tool is also a great resource that is publicly available and free to use. It offered invaluable guidance that helped us improve many areas of our business. I wish I had known about it sooner!
- Allow ample time for the B Corp journey. It takes time to ensure quality and valuable implementation of initiatives. I recommend setting up regular progress sessions with your team to maintain drive, commitment and progress, and be mindful that it could take years to achieve.
- Finally, start looking into the assessment early as it can provide guidance and potentially save you from doubling up work if you’re in the process of formalising policies and key processes.