Melbourne creative agency Tank reveals how it got into the ethical B Corporations league

Richard Foster

A strategic design firm in Melbourne has become one of the few creative companies to join the global league of B Corporations striving to redefine the private sector through ethical business.

The certification will see Tank become a member of a community of more than 1500 B Corporations from 40 countries, including the likes of Kickstarter, Keep Cup and The School of Life.

About 7% of B Corps are from Australia and New Zealand.

Making the cut comes after nearly two decades in practice, at a time when Tank is going through a major shift in its focus, says co-founder Richard Foster.

“We’re a human-centred design firm, starting with empathy and really understanding the needs of the audience, what’s important to them, what their pain points are,” he told SmartCompany.

“We aren’t into creating pretty designs and meaningless ads.”

Taking Tank in this new direction, Foster and his team applied to become a B Corporation, a certification reserved for those serious about making a difference.

Tank, which turns over more than $2 million, has dedicated its time to driving purpose and better outcomes for major clients, including the Department of Human Services, Bank Australia and the Cancer Council Australia.

“We want to work with purpose-driven businesses and leaders who are driven to create positive social impact,” Foster says.

Getting into the B Corps community

The B Corporations movement, which is led by US not-for-profit B Labs, takes businesses around the world through a rigorous assessment process that measures their impact on all stakeholders: from workers and customers through to suppliers, the community and the environment.

The rigorous certification process took Tank four months and included a 200-point scoring system.

“There’s an impact assessment which is open to anyone, it ranks across a whole range of different areas from governance to workers to community to environment to your business model,” Foster says.

With businesses expected to meet at least 80 points, Foster and his team consulted not-for-profit B Labs, which helped them through the process.

“We were very close to the score,” he says.

“It was more identifying for us areas within the impact assessment that were more relevant to us that we didn’t realise.”

To maintain the certification, Tank will need to redo this every two years.

B Corporations are also randomly audited through in-person visits to check they’re practicing and delivering to certified standards.

But having entered the movement, Tank now has the opportunity to tap into a global network of fellow B Corps.

“B Marketplace [is] like a LinkedIn so you get to connect with peers from around the world,” Foster says.

“It benchmarks your performance.”

Striving to boost their positive impact, Foster says Tank has already developed a full suite of programs designed to help their clients become leaders in their various industries.

“The work we enjoy the most and the work that has the most meaning for us is the work that really counts for something,” Foster says.


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