Balancing Profit and Purpose – feat. Forster Communications

The purpose of our series “Balancing Profit and Purpose” is to feature fellow B Corporations, to hopefully inspire many more to join the movement.

We showcase those companies that meet rigorously verified standards of social and environmental performance, those that use business as a force for good. As a collective, B Corps are accelerating a global cultural shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

As part of this, we caught up with Amanda Powell-Smith, CEO at Forster Communications

Tony @ ADLIB: For some background information, who are you as a business and what makes your business offering unique?

Amanda: Forster Communications is a London-based PR agency using the power of communications to protect and improve lives. We are 100% focused on turning sustainability ambitions into action, across every aspect of our business, with our clients and across our community.

An example of this is the game-changing Climate Positive Plan we launched in January 2020 which was a first for our industry and continues to stand out for its value chain commitments. It’s published openly on our website for anyone to see and springboard from as helpful to them and their organisation.

We work with businesses, charities, foundations and investors to tackle complex challenges and drive change. From rapid pandemic response with NHS Charities Together and Neighbourly; to changing the face of retail with Selfridges, Danone and Patagonia; to inspiring individual action with Energy Savings Trust, Eden Project Communities and Environmental Funders Network, our impact is growing in partnership with our clients.

Tony @ ADLIB: What got you interested in joining the B Corp movement and what does being a B Corp mean to you?

Amanda: We were established as a purpose-led business in 1996 and have always sought to walk-the-talk, operating as a best practice organisation and testing ideas internally.

When B Corp came over to the UK in 2015 it was a natural next step for us to become a founding UK member. We were delighted to meet the standards required and have pushed ourselves consistently ever since to ensure we are improving on an on-going basis.

The B Corp ethos plays to our pioneering spirit while also enabling us to learn from and network with like-minded businesses.

As more and more organisations try to show what they are doing, the B Corp standard is going to stand out as a sign of taking action.

Tony @ ADLIB: Can you share a little bit about your B Corp story, what the process was like for you?

Amanda: We have been publishing independently audited Impact Reports since we started as a business, sharing highlights alongside the challenges of becoming a climate positive business. This commitment to transparency set us up well for the B Corp certification process, which took around two months to complete.

We have now been through two recertification processes and treated both as a chance to engage new members of the team in our strategy and help everyone to focus on the difference we can make as a business, both through the work we do for our clients and how we operate as a business. The climate emergency is the biggest and most urgent area for us to drive action on over the next few years and our Climate Positive Plan was born out of this process.

Tony @ ADLIB: In your case, what does it mean for your workers, customers, community and environmental considerations?

Amanda: We believe that as specialist sustainability communicators we can’t ask our clients to be brave unless we’re doing the same – living and breathing it every day.

By measuring our impact we’re able to focus on the areas we can make a big difference, for example: switching pension providers after joining Make My Money Matter’s Green Pension Charter; helping the team switch to 100% renewable energy at home during the pandemic; and running initiatives like Better By Miles to support our local community when it needed it most.  

We screen our suppliers on the things that matter across both social and environmental indicators and by March 2022 we will only buy from suppliers who have made net zero targets. By April 2023 we will only work with clients who have made a public commitment to reduce their climate impacts. Our tight selection criteria mean we work with clients who want to make real progress, often against tough, taboo challenges. It is by having a committed team and brave clients that we are creating real change.

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Head of Marketing, Digital & eCommerce

Agency & In-house Marketing

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Tony Allen