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A ground-breaking plan for B Corp certification

We could become the first EFL club to achieve this status

21 February 2022

In our last matchday programme for the Sunderland game, Dons Trust Board member Niall Couper discussed the possibility of us becoming a B Corp club.

For those that missed this article, it is reproduced in full below.

Over the past 12 months, the Dons Trust has been developing an overarching strategy. And as part of that process the Trust asked its members how they would feel about the club becoming a B Corp.

It is a huge step for the club and if successful the club would become the first EFL club to become a B Corp. B Corporation Certification is given to for-profit organisations who achieve at least a minimum score against a set of social and environmental standards.

Of the 1,255 respondents who expressed an opinion, 46 per cent were in favour and a further 43 per cent were likely to be in favour, but wanted to know more. Only 6 per cent were opposed. As a result, this year we’ve begun the process to find out what the club would need to do to become fully-certified – a process covered by an initial B Corp Assessment.

The Assessment is measured against five criteria – workers, customers (in our case fans), suppliers, community, and the environment – and has a maximum score of 200. To become accredited the company needs to score above 80. It is not an easy process, but the benefits of becoming a B Corp have been analysed in depth by PwC.

PwC reported that B Corps see notable positive brand equity growth, greater recruitment appeal, and, crucially, greater investor appeal. Between 2017 and 2020, B Corps saw their average headcount grow by 8 per cent compared to an average of 0 per cent in non-B Corps.

In the same period the annual turnover growth was 24 per cent compared to an average of 3 per cent in non-B Corps. There is also a lower gender pay gap in B Corps, and higher expectations on growth, both in terms of turnover and employee numbers in B Corps.

Staff at B Corps are much more likely to rate civic and community engagement as important compared to non-B Corps (95 per cent to 50 per cent). Among the household names that have gained B Corp status are Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Abel & Cole.

As an ethos, becoming a B Corp also chimes with all five of the values outlined in the Dons Trust’s new five-year strategy (collaboration, ownership, resilience, trust, and constant improvement) and is fully aligned with two of our five-year objectives (becoming financially sustainable/reinvesting profits; and becoming the UK’s number one community club).

However, that does not mean we will automatically pursue full certification. The certification would also need to be re-assessed and renewed every three years. The club would need to pay an annual fee of £500.

So what is happening now?

The first process is to take the online test. Most organisations initially fall significantly short of the

required 80 points to pass – the average is around 50. And then as a result they develop a roadmap on how to reach the 80. Then they take a second test and if they pass that milestone, the B lab experts come in to check through the scores thoroughly. This often leads to a reduction of around five points and then, and only then, if the final score is above 80 does the company get given B Corp Accreditation.

AFC Wimbledon have been working with a consultant to guide us through the process and we are currently two thirds of the way through the first assessment – we paused the process because of the run of matches we have and the closing of the transfer window, and the high workload that involves.

However, the early results look good, we have scored 45 so far and there is another 10 that we can achieve very easily. And we will of course pick up more points in the remaining third of the Assessment. We are fully committed to this initial process and encourage all staff and volunteers to help as much as possible during the process. We expect to complete the process by the end of the month and will then have a roadmap in place on what is required to achieve the magic 80 mark.

It is at that point that we will put the fully-costed consequences back to our members to measure the appetite to try and achieve full certification.


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