BKL’s B Corp status has made the firm more attractive to industry talent, signalling the significance of sustainable practices, according to Myfanwy Neville, partner at BKL.
“It has definitely opened a door in terms of candidates who care about this kind of stuff, and from that perspective, it’s invaluable.”
Neville says that several candidates for vacancies at BKL have said they only applied for the role because of the companies pledge to sustainable practices.
Jessica Fries, executive chair at Accounting for Sustainability (A4S), says B Corp status “is a really interesting way of demonstrating, very visibly, that as an organisation you are really living and breathing the kind of values that you might espouse.”
Neville agrees, saying: “I think it also tells people pretty clearly upfront who you are.” Additionally, it can help organisations “differentiate” from other mid-market accountancy firms as it “adds a bit extra” in terms of USP.
A survey conducted by A4S showed that just over half of the accountants surveyed (54%) believe that late movers to sustainable practices could lead to an inability to attract and retain talent.
Given that B Corp status can help attract talent at a time when the accounting industry is dealing with a skills shortage more firms may apply for certification. However, due to the partnership model being the preferred choice of accountancy practices, Fries explains that getting all partners to agree to such a dramatic shift “isn’t always going to be easy”.
BKL commenced its programme in 2021 and achieved the certification in 2022 – four years earlier than it had originally targeted.
B Corp certification is achieved by businesses capable of demonstrating high social and environmental performance through sustainable business practices.
Employees driving sustainable change
Finance Leaders are aware of the importance of sustainability to their workforce, with 88% of those surveyed by A4S citing employee engagement as a key driver for action on sustainability.
Fries notes she has had conversations in accounting communities, and firms have said explicitly “that they are getting pushed further and faster by their employees” to make sustainable changes.
It has become too “risky” for firms to not listen to their workforce and to implement sustainable practices as a core element of their operations, she says.
Additionally, universities have now become far more discerning of the businesses they invite to participate in career fairs, according to Fries.
Student populations are increasingly taking an interest in companies’ stances on ESG-related issues, she adds, urging accounting firms to take action or risk missing out on attracting top young talent.
“You can’t measure what would’ve happened if we hadn’t done it, but we do know that people are coming to interviews and asking about it,” says Neville. The B Corp certification is awarded by the B Lab B, a non-profit network, aiming to transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.