Becoming a B Corp – POPAI Interview with Tracy Scutt, Managing Director at arken P-O-P International.
Since the B Corp movement started, its mission has been to create a global community of purpose-led businesses who are driving accountability for their impact on people, the planet, and communities. Today, there are now more than 4,000 certified B Corporations from over 150 industries across 75 countries. Last month, arken P-O-P International joined the likes of Innocent Drinks, The Body Shop, Nespresso, and Aveda by achieving certification as a B Corp organisation. B Corp certification is considered the hardest sustainable certification to achieve. Little surprise then, that it is a status that’s currently only held by just over a thousand businesses across the UK. It is also relatively new to the retail display sector, with only a handful of manufacturers certified globally. We sat down with arken P-O-P International Managing Director, Tracy Scutt, to understand a bit more about the process of becoming a B Corp and why a committing to go beyond business as usual matters.
What prompted you to go for this certification?
arken P-O-P International’s mission is to deliver cutting-edge point-of-purchase displays that not only drive sales for clients but also minimise environmental impact. Since its inception, B Corp has become a pledge for businesses to use their weight and influence as a force for good rather than just to make money. It’s about profit, people, and the planet, and it helps to prove that companies that have achieved B Corp status have a positive impact and better practices than those that don’t.For us, B Corp certification felt like a natural progression in our journey to being a responsible retail display manufacturer – something that has been central to our approach throughout our history. As we celebrate 75 years in business, achieving this prestigious designation in this year, particularly, represented the perfect way to underscore arken’s ongoing dedication to responsible business practices: cementing what we stand for to our employees, suppliers, and clients with a stamp of independent approval that arken is meeting stringent standards for positive social and environmental impact. By incorporating sustainable materials, energy-efficient manufacturing processes, and waste reduction strategies, arken ensures that each product aligns with its newfound B Corp values. Pulling together all our environmental, social and governance initiatives, practices, policies, and processes under a single certification, the company's B Corp journey reflects our dedication to constant improvement and adherence to a set of core values that prioritise sustainability and social welfare. B Corp status not only demonstrates what we currently do but will also help us to set our strategic plan for future improvement, which is key, we are incredibly proud of what we have achieved as a business with all our certifications.
What were the biggest challenges?
Achieving B Corp status is supposed to be challenging – otherwise everyone would be certified. The journey to B Corp Certification has been a long one. And so it should be. B Corp Certification does not just pay lip service to the ideals of sustainability; it’s not just a stamp that anyone can get. This is the real deal. The process to become a B Corp was certainly eye-opening. As a leader player in the retail display world, and whose commitment to doing business in a responsible way is deeply engrained in our approach, you would be forgiven for thinking the process would be relatively straightforward. It wasn’t. The journey to certification is rigorous. As a business, it challenged us to look at ourselves as a business through a critical lens in a way we’d never done before. Collecting all the data for the evaluation was not easy, but it also gave us a lot. Having to gather all the information required during the assessment process made us realise how much ‘good stuff’ we were already doing. It was humbling to look back at all our hard work, while also weeding out areas for improvement and growth. If anything, it acted as an important ‘enabler’, helping us to look at a range of ESG initiatives that we already had in place with fresh eyes and better align them across the whole business.Aside from the obvious of providing information for evidence-based assessment, perhaps the biggest challenge was changing our collective mindset. Being a truly responsible business requires you to accept that there is no finish line. As a goal-oriented business that lives for hitting deadlines and targets, and then moving on to the next one; that can sit uneasily. Goals and targets rooted in responsibility are also not always clear-cut. The reality is that responsible work never really ends. B Lab, the organisation that certifies B Corps, understands this, and requires B Corps to recertify every three years. The process requires proof of milestones achieved and a presentation of new milestones to pursue. All this really does demand a team effort, and the only way we'll succeed is with internal and external buy-in.
What have been the biggest benefits?
While we are immensely proud to be joining the B Corp movement, we did not start out on this journey for the sake of being able to say we are a B Corp or because we thought it would win us more customers. That’s the wrong approach. A huge benefit of becoming a Certified B Corporation is that it will allow us to connect with other companies with a shared interest in using business as a force for good. So far, B Corp certification has already yielded many new initiatives, important conversations, and challenging choices within the business. For us, the certification is a commitment to the future, to continuously improve – to do better every day. Ultimately, it reinforces a mindset that we must try harder in all areas of how we act responsibly as a business, better measure our performance, and leave a positive impact of people and planet. That is, surely, the biggest (and most important) benefit of all.
What is next for arken?
Whilst the certification is important, it’s what we do from here to improve ourselves, support others and ensure more businesses are thinking sustainably and responsibly that will make the difference. Achieving B Corp status represents just the beginning of what is an incredibly important journey – not the destination. We continue to make significant steps in progressing as a business that leads with a responsible-first mindset and remain motivated by the positive impact we can make both now and, in the future.
What would your advice be to other businesses in our sector looking to undertake this accreditation?
Becoming a B Corp is not for everyone. Achieving and maintaining B Corp Certification is a serious commitment – of time, of resources, and to adopting a more sustainable business model. But if you have been thinking about becoming a B Corp, start now, and start with an open mind. It’s not an easy process, but it is one with the potential to improve your culture, business and, eventually, the way we all think and act – the values behind this certification are intrinsic to good business practices. We may be one of the first, but we don’t want to be one of the few B Corps in our sector.
About arken P-O-P International
Founded in 1948, arken P-O-P International is the UK’s most highly awarded retail display agency, known for delivering innovative and eye-catching solutions that drive sales and enhance brand visibility for global brands including Intel, Superdrug, Benefit Cosmetics, Revolution Beauty, and Global Media. The company has been serving the retail industry for over seven decades, earning a reputation for excellence, creativity, and a customer-centric approach. We have had a record breaking year, not only in achieving B Corp but with our 8 POPAI Awards, plus becoming both Gold and Silver winners of the POPAI Display of the Year Award.