Guest blog by millenial Georgina Wadham, who works for Cause 4
Being young is hard.
Did you roll your eyes at that sentence? Fair enough – I’m the first to admit that being young has its perks: it’s easier to keep fit, you’re more likely to be on top of the latest trends, your back’s only just started to do that weird crunching thing when you stretch. But, for many, the late teens and early twenties can be a difficult time because of one significant challenge: choice. Let me set that in context.
The term ‘millennial’ is used a lot to talk about young people. It’s a handy catch-all describing everyone born between 1982-ish and 2004-ish, which is quite a wide spectrum of different opinions, attitudes and experiences. I was born in 1993, for example, and, though much of my childhood may have been spent listening to the Spice Girls and drinking Sunny-D, my adolescence was defined by one event: the recession. Every night, I would watch the news with my parents as unemployment figures spiralled and the numbers of available jobs steadily dwindled.
This is where choice came in. People my age were suddenly presented with a decision: do what you love, or do what will find you work. I studied English at University. My passions are the Arts, Education and the Third Sector. Needless to say, in a sixth form full of aspiring accountants and salespeople, I stuck out like a sore thumb.
But what does all this have to do with B-Corps? B-Corporations are a relatively new concept in the UK, launched here in September 2015, but they are proving a popular certification for organisations that want to change the world whilst making a profit. This is where B-Corps are making a real difference to young people like me: we’ve been told all our lives that we can be successful or we can do what we care about, but not both. B-Corps are disrupting the idea that you have to choose between doing good and doing well.
B-Corp doesn’t distinguish between successful social impact and financial profit: to become a Certified B Corp, an organisation must outperform the industry average in five sets of performance standards: governance, workers, community, customers and environment. It’s been likened to the Fair Trade validation for coffee roasters, but for businesses.
There are 87 B-Corporations in the UK at the time of writing and I work for one of them. To qualify, the company that I work for, Cause4, had to go through a rigorous assessment and many of the areas where they were measured have a very positive impact on my own working experience. B-Corps must provide at least 50% of all employees with paid professional development opportunities. B-Corps must pay bonuses to non-executives. Cause4 doesn’t have to decide its impact and its profit, and neither do I.
I’ve always wanted to do something with a purpose beyond the next paycheque, or the next rung on the ladder, and working for Cause4 lets me have my cake and eat it too. We’ve raised over £46 million for our clients since the company was set up in May 2009, which goes directly into the charitable sector. We’ve helped fund facilities for young people with special educational needs, youth orchestras and increased investment in high impact arts in health projects, to name a few. I’m proud of the part I play in that, but working for a B-Corp means I don’t have to martyr myself to do it.