Impact Reports Map Progress and Opportunities for a Positive Difference

January 24, 2024

Reporting Process Helps B Corps Measure Impact and Set Stakeholder Goals

For many businesses, an annual report marks a place in time, serves as a financial record, and maps opportunities to move forward. Certified B Corporations broaden and deepen the concept with impact reports that assess how they are making a profit — and a difference for people and the planet.

By assessing and sharing how they affect stakeholders — workers, customers, community, environment, and partners — B Corps also can identify opportunities for impact improvement. Then, together, they can set goals, measure progress on criteria relevant to the B Impact Assessment used for B Corp Certification, and take action to build impact. 

Employees play a key role in impact improvement at Plank, a Quebec-based B Corp. “Involving the team in the impact reporting process is where the magic happens,” says Paisley Nyberg, Senior Business Strategist at Plank. “Not only does the team’s involvement make impact reporting more manageable, it fosters a sense of shared responsibility and collective impact.”

That shared responsibility also extends to business partners and suppliers, who present additional opportunities for impact improvement in their own operations. The supply chain is an area of impact focus for the Portman Estate, a property company on 110 acres in London. Compiling the impact report helped hone the B Corp’s focus on future goals and serves as a tool for reflection, says Portman Estate Corporate Director Katie Balderson. “Publishing a formal impact report annually is a good challenge and ensures we are not only focused on continuous improvement but also that we celebrate successes along the way,” she says.

Share Your Feedback on the Draft Standards

The second opportunity to share feedback on the latest draft of the standards for B Corp Certification has launched! Register now for a Jan. 31 informational webinar that will include a forum for questions and comments from attendees.


Hemmings House: A Creative Partnership That Doubles the Impact (Reports)

Hemmings House is a New Brunswick-based film production company with 10 employees that specializes in sharing stories of positive impact. While the company has been in business since 2006 and a B Corp since 2014, last year was the first time it produced an impact report. The Hemmings House 2023 impact report includes a breakdown of progress on three sustainability pillars key to Hemmings House as a B Corp and impact-minded business: planet, people, and profit. 

Founder Greg Hemmings says a services trade made the report a reality. “We have helped other customers create animations and videos, bringing their reports to life, but we have never had a chance to do our own until now,” he says. CC Goodwin, a marketing agency also in New Brunswick, hired Hemmings House to animate its impact report. In exchange, CC Goodwin guided and designed an impact report for Hemmings House. Hemmings worked with CFO Haley Adams and CEO Steve Foster to determine impact improvement goals with the B Impact Assessment as a guiding resource. 

The Hemmings House 2023 impact report includes a breakdown of progress on three sustainability pillars key to Hemmings House as a B Corp and impact-minded business.

Creating an impact report prompted Hemmings House to track and measure existing partnerships and initiatives that help drive sustainability for people, the planet, and the bottom line. “As members of 1% For the Planet, we have committed 1% of our top-line revenues to environmental nonprofits,” Hemmings says. “Though we have always supported great organizations doing this work, we are now measuring the impact by tracking all of our pro bono, voluntary, and monetary donations and investments.”

Tracking impact improvement also makes it easier to share progress with the Hemmings House team and embed it in everyday operations. “Keep it as much of a priority in your meetings as the financial performance,” Hemmings says. 

The company’s first impact report was a learning experience that continues to provide lessons for the Hemmings House team. “It helped us gather all of our initiatives into one place, which made us proud of the direction we are going. But it also helped us see areas that we thought we were further along with,” Hemmings says. “This has inspired us to continue to track and monitor our impact so we can continuously improve.”

See the Hemmings House 2023 impact report.

The Portman Estate: Building Impact Throughout the Supply Chain

The Portman Estate in Marylebone, London, employs about 80 people and is home to thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses and restaurants. Becoming a B Corp in 2022 prompted the company’s first impact report, which looks at the real estate development’s current social and environmental impact and future initiatives.

Corporate Director Katie Balderson says the Portman Estate’s sustainability committee led the production of the report with input from others who work on specific projects. “We took inspiration from looking at impact reports published by other B Corps, but it was important that the report also reflected our own values and some of the other activity we are undertaking,” she says. 

Completing the B Impact Assessment helped the Portman Estate identify areas to add formal processes or policies and improve social and environmental impact. This includes a new apprenticeship opportunity on the corporate team that is part of the B Corp’s work to build inclusion and diversity. “Employees at all levels of the business are involved in setting team and personal objectives that support these goals, with the overall direction discussed at board meetings,” Balderson says.

The Portman Estate impact report highlights future programs and impact goals.

Seeing an opportunity to amplify impact throughout its operations and property, the Portman Estate recently introduced a charter that sets out standards expected throughout its supply chain. “This was a lengthy project, during which we consulted with many of our suppliers to ensure that the final requirements were achievable but also sufficiently challenging,” Balderson says. 

The charter requires suppliers to measure and report their environmental impacts, including emissions, waste, and materials used at Portman Estate sites. It reinforces B Corp values by encouraging suppliers to share policies and initiatives related to employee well-being, customer care, and community support. Portman Estate will offer a series of workshops to support suppliers in these efforts. 

Creating the Portman Estate’s first impact report revealed the importance of data collection and reporting. “Start gathering data as soon as you can, as this is really helpful in providing evidence of progress,” Balderson says. 

See the Portman Estate’s 2023 impact report.

A New Way of Doing Business

To help business leaders navigate the journey to adopt benefit corporation status as a requirement of B Corp Certification, B Lab U.S. & Canada provides this downloadable resource, the Board Playbook, to lay out the process and demystify the risks.


Plank: Prioritizing Worker Input in Impact Goals and Strategies

Plank has completed two impact reports since 2022, its first year as a B Corp, to align with a commitment to transparency and sustainable improvement. The web design and development agency is based in Quebec and has 27 employees, including some who work remotely. 

Creating the impact report is a collaborative process that involves about a fourth of the Plank team from departments including strategy, leadership, content and design, and people and operations. “Having these diverse perspectives is important for us to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive approach to impact reporting, goal-setting, and decision-making,” says Paisley Nyberg, Senior Business Strategist. “Our pursuit of impact improvement revolves around continuous, sustainable improvement. We aim to challenge ourselves to be the best versions of ourselves without trying to do everything all at once.”

She says identifying and pursuing impact improvement goals is a team process that involves varied methods for evaluating and implementing improvements and different channels of communication to discuss and set realistic goals. Plank has internal Slack channels dedicated to topics including B Corp, environment, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). “These channels serve as dynamic platforms where team members can share ideas, propose goals, and engage in ongoing discussions related to our impact initiatives,” Nyberg says. Smaller working groups — dedicated to DEI, environment, ethical web development, and other topics — also propose impact goals. 

Plank’s impact report highlights practices that support employees.

Plank has publicly stated goals that act as guiding principles for impact decisions and reinforce a commitment to improvement. “These goals are not just abstract ideals; they are integrated into every pillar of our organization, influencing everything from hiring practices to client interactions,” Nyberg says. “Stakeholder consideration is also embedded in our amended Articles of Incorporation, which helps guide our decision-making process.” 

One of the biggest changes Plank has made to pursue impact improvement is to build a people and operations team. The B Corp added a human resources/operations coordinator about two years ago to help streamline the operations side of impact improvement and provide additional worker support. In that role, Luke Largin created a formal employee manual and documented new and revised policies. 

As a hybrid company with employees across Canada and elsewhere, Plank continues to face challenges with impact improvement and goal setting for remote employees. “We implemented a new composting initiative at the office in 2023, which was great in theory — however, it only applies to those that work in our Montreal office,” Nyberg says. “We openly discuss these challenges with the team and welcome new ideas for impact improvement from everyone. It’s always worth trying something new. If it doesn’t work, try something else.”

Plank team members are key in determining the B Corp’s impact improvement plan. A team appreciation event last year included discussions to help determine how Plank can grow as a company. The event also included an interactive workshop on how Plank can contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “We then opened up the floor for everyone to present their ideas and discuss logistics, and we incorporated a lot of them into our improvement plan,” Nyberg says. “We found that this collaborative approach ensures that our goals are well-informed and resonate with the values and aspirations of our diverse team.”

Discussing impact improvement throughout the year reflects the dynamic nature of impact goals, Nyberg says. “View your impact report not as an endpoint but as a starting point for learning and improvement,” she says. “This is the ultimate invitation for new ideas, feedback, and an additional layer of transparency that benefits everyone involved.”

As Plank prepares for recertification as a B Corp, Nyberg says the impact reporting process will serve as a valuable resource. “It has not only helped us formalize our processes for measuring progress and keeping track of our successes/challenges year-over-year, but it has also allowed us to keep everything in one place,” she says.

See Plank’s 2023 impact report

Fairware: Building Stronger Relationships with Partners and Community

Fairware Promotional Products is a Vancouver-based promotions agency that specializes in custom-branded sustainable products. Fairware tracked its social and environmental impact for more than a decade as part of its B Corp, EcoVadis, and Climate Smart certification processes but had not produced a formal report. 

Fairware’s co-founders, CEO Denise Taschereau and COO Sarah White, developed the B Corp’s 2022 impact report with support from the company’s 26-employee team. The structure of the impact report reflects Fairware’s experience as a mission-driven business in the promotional product industry and B Corp Certification impact areas. It was the first formal impact report for Fairware, which plans to continue the practice annually to track published goals. 

“By listing our achievements and where we want to see ourselves, we developed a list of goals for each section in our impact agenda,” Taschereau says. “Our commitments and goals are formed by our team member’s experiences, the promotional product industry, and the desire to do better.”

Fairware’s impact report includes a focus on community service activities.

The company’s impact goals include improving internal systems and strengthening relationships with suppliers, shipping partners, and clients. It also created an internal committee to track and build the impact of community service activities and connections. Since Fairware formed the committee in mid-2023, its members have organized and completed a beach clean-up, had a group blood donation for the Canadian Blood Services, and made annual product donations to the Vancouver Street Soccer League and a local shelter for unhoused youth.

“Publicly stating clear goals in our impact report has informed our 2024 priorities and taken the guesswork out of this year’s initiatives,” Taschereau says. “Having a public report not only showcases what you’ve done, it refines your to-do list for the future.”

See the Fairware impact report.


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