Netguru is one of the fastest growing digital consultancies in Europe. It offers designs and development services to innovators all around the world, focusing on outstanding user experience. Netguru is a Certified B Corporation®. Karolina Długosz is the sustainability manager at the company. We discussed Netguru’s activity and about why they chose to be a certified B Corporation.
What does Netguru do and how did you become the sustainability manager at the company?
Netguru is a digital consultancy, which offers product design and software development to enterprise and startup innovators. Interestingly, it was Netguru who reached out to me two years ago asking for support in taking the company through the B Corp certification process. At that time, the number of people who knew this particular certification in our market was quite limited. The intention of the company was to take responsibility for its full impact on the world, and to translate sustainability into nearly every aspect of company operations.
That’s how I joined Netguru to lead our sustainability efforts.
What is your personal story? Why did the company ask you to help with this task?
I believe it was my CSR work experience and networking that connected me and Netguru. I started at Danone many years ago, and it was one of the first companies on the Polish market that had a corporate social responsibility (CSR) department. Even though back then CSR was quite a new term, I was still able to learn a lot thanks to how mature the organization was, and how aware they were of their impact. By the way, a total of thirty-nine Danone entities worldwide have now earned a B Corp™ Certification.
Then, I joined Capgemini, and for over eight years my responsibilities were focused around community engagement, diversity and inclusion, and environment – with many projects happening at a global level of the organization. Finally, I used to be an active member of various sustainability-focused associations and networks, which is how our paths with Netguru crossed in 2019.
What sustainability practices did Netguru already have in place when you joined?
Netguru had a well-developed culture back then. Since Netguru’s inception, the organizational culture has been based on such values as respect, inclusion, trust, and transparency. Netguru was one of the first organizations in Poland to publish salary ranges in job ads. We introduced flexible working hours and remote work to facilitate maintaining a balance between the private and professional life. People openly shared their concerns about ethical issues.
Why B Corp and what is a B Corp certification in practical terms?
The reason why Netguru wanted to be a B Corp is because this was one of the very few concepts that proved to make sense. There are a lot of certifications you can get, many of which cover specific areas (like environment or diversity) and Netguru was looking for a broader one.
B Corp goes across all areas of impact. The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is a free, confidential platform designed to help measure and manage your company’s positive impact on your workers, community, customers and environment. The BIA assesses the impact of your company’s day-to-day operations and your business model—both what you do and how you do it. Your responses to the B Impact Assessment determine your total numeric score. B Corp Certification requires a minimum verified total score of 80 across all impact areas. The five areas are as follows:
- Governance – it is about what a company can do to enhance policies and practices pertaining to its mission, ethics, accountability, and transparency
- Workers – it is about what a company can do to contribute to its employees’ financial, physical, professional, and social well-being.
- Community – It is about what a company can do to contribute to the economic and social well-being of the communities in which it operates (e.g. supply chain, diversity and inclusion, local ownership).
- Environment – it is about what a company can do to improve its overall environmental stewardship. This is a topic that seemed to be easy for us being an IT company at first (not producing or exploiting earth resources) but we quickly realized how cloud computing produces a significant amount of CO2 emissions and we are responsible for this emissions. So now we work with Climate Leadership to reduce our impact
- Consumers – it is about what a company can do to improve the value that it creates for direct customers/clients through products or services.
How did you complete the questionnaire?
First, I approached the relevant teams such as the management board, operations, payroll, HR and asked all those questions. I checked if we met the requirements and if we could support our compliance with enough evidence. During that time, I must have been the most annoying person in the company. Luckily, thanks to our culture we were ready for such an assessment.
The questionnaire also tells you how many points you can earn with a given answer, typically a fraction of one point. Of course, there are some key questions that bring more than that.
To get the certificate, you need 80 points. And this is where B Corp guides you in practice. Because when you do the first draft based on your current performance you might end up having 60-70 points. So you will need to improve. For example, you might realize that you don’t have certain policies in place. Then you will need to take action to have these fixed, and you will need to implement those actions.
Only after you complete them, will you be able to finalize the BIA and send it for review.
What is the role of this review?
After completing the B Impact Assessment, companies undergo a multi-step verification process to determine if they go above the 80-point bar for Certification. Companies must also meet certain transparency requirements to become Certified B Corps – as stated in the B Corp Agreement. A B Lab Standards Analyst will reach out to confirm your submission and some details about your business (in our case, it also meant sharing more of our local social context in this part of the world, e.g. different healthcare regulations). The process is very well described in Certification Requirements. Companies provide information and/or documentation to typically six to fifteen selected questions related to company operations to support verification.
All Certified B Corps share their B Impact Report publicly on their B Impact Reports – ours can be found here: https://bcorporation.net/directory/netguru. Currently there are over 4000 B Corp certified companies in the world with around 700 in Europe.
Does this certification expire and are there different levels?
Yes, you need to renew the certification every three years. The B Impact Assessment is updated every three years; re-certification gives companies the opportunity to set improvement goals against the most-up-to-date standards and benchmark their performance over time.
Each time you need to achieve at least 80 out of 200 available points.
What do you see as the benefit of B Corp?
It helps us run a profitable business and put sustainability at the center of our strategy. We want to build an inclusive workplace, and our vision is a sustainable digital world where everyone can realize their full potential. The universality of this particular certification helps us to navigate towards that vision.
It also becomes an important factor for our clients. At Netguru, we’ve already had some cases when clients came to us with different sustainability requests, asking, for example, what our impact on the environment or diversity was. And in such cases, we can show both our B Corp certification and our approach towards certain sustainability issues as well.
Basically, becoming a B Corp means raising the bar for yourself but also for the whole industry.
Does B Lab help you with these actions and strategies?
In my opinion, apart from the BIA itself – which is a super helpful tool, the most important help that B Lab gives is through their training and events where you can exchange information and share good practices. Moreover I find their engagement in consulting EU regulatory framework on company law and corporate governance crucial for long-term change.
Do you have a sustainability strategy already?
We do have a sustainability strategy, and we are currently working on delivering particular elements of it. One of them is to have better diversity and inclusion indicators, another is our upgraded Code of Ethics. We are also working on a clearer understanding of our carbon footprint and a plan to decrease and/or offset it. We work on all these aspects with external partners including academia and NGOs. We’re also a member and a funding partner of an exceptional partnership called Tech To The Rescue. This is a voluntary movement of tech companies to help non-governmental organizations around the world implement digital solutions to scale up their activities.
Would you recommend becoming a B Corp to other companies?
If you are an international organization that takes sustainability seriously or has international workers, clients or relations then this is recognizable, and it will help you in taking sustainability to a next level.