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Kate Sharum – a former employee at New Forests

I first spoke to the B Lab team in 2012. We were able to access the B Impact Assessment (BIA) through the GIIRS rating the company was undergoing, as a result of our having received investment from a large agricultural fund.

What did you learn from using the B Impact Assessment?

The BIA allowed for a new level of reflection and analysis of our company’s performance against our social, environmental and governance commitments. I found the GIIRS process and working with B Lab to be extremely rigorous, professional and thought provoking.  While we had long articulated our commitment to responsible investment and partnership with communities, it was powerful to see how we measured up to other companies and some of the
specific management decisions we could take to raise our scores and improve our performance.  One of the most liberating pieces of the process, however, was that the initial assessment gave us an internal benchmark against which we could compare future company performance, in a way that was relevant and deeply reflective.

What did the company do as a result?

Not only were we able to use our GIIRS rating in the fiscal year 2012 annual sustainability report, a tenant of our feedback process to investors and other stakeholders, but we were also able to use the scoring as a management tool for years to come.  In the wake of our GIIRS assessment, we undertook a two-year process of practical and documented alignment with the highest international environmental and social standards.  The BIA offered guidance on where to invest our focus and the International Finance Corporation’s eight performance standards provided the specific standards with which to align.  In the wake of this process, we were able to unlock investment that had been previously unavailable to us.

Conclusion

I left The New Forests Company in 2016; however, I know the impact of the B Lab company assessment has continued to deliver positive returns, long after it was first used in 2012.

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