Aromatherapy Associates announces its ethical B Corp certification as it pledges to put people and the planet on the same footing as profit
LONDON: Aromatherapy Associates today (21 October 2020) is announcing a change in the way it does business. In future it will give equal weight to people, the planet and profit by becoming an ethical B Corporation.
B Corp is a global movement – to date 3,500 companies in 150 industries have gained the certification which can takes several years to achieve. Other global brands that have become B Corps include Patagonia, innocent, Abel & Cole, The Body Shop, Allbirds and Veja. This more ethical way of doing business is gaining momentum as a result of the climate, social and economical crisis coupled with rising inequality and an increasing desire by consumers for brands with purpose.
B Corps are companies that instead of just focussing on the traditional bottom line – profit – they have a triple bottom line where the impact of the business on people and the planet is given the same weight as making money.
Aromatherapy Associates achieved B Corp certification in just ten months in recognition of its social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.
The company – founded by aromatherapy pioneers Geraldine Howard and Sue Beechy – was way ahead of its time even when it launched in 1985. It began on a kitchen table in a house in Fulham where the pair would mix their oils. But soon their products for the face and body drew a high profile following; famous fans included American actress Ava Gardner and actor Peter O’Toole. However Aromatherapy Associates most famous advocate and ambassador was Diana, Princess of Wales, who used the brand’s Revive Evening Bath & Shower Oil.
Aromatherapy Associates is now recognised as the world’s best aromatherapy brand and a thought leader in the spa and wellness arena. Its products are sold in 50 countries, in luxury retailers including Harrods, Liberty’s, Selfridges and SpaceNK. They can also be found in luxury spas and hotels around the world including The Dorchester, The Spa at The Mandarin Oriental and JW Marriott.
CEO of Aromatherapy Associates Anna Teal comments:
“When Aromatherapy Associates was founded in the mid Eighties, its purpose was to help people in times of need, support them through the highs and lows of life and help their wellbeing. Right from the very start, our founders were passionate about fulfilling a greater need and doing good in the world rather than just making money. Caring for people and the planet was very much at the core of the brand then as it is now.”
“With our B Corp certification, we are able to create a better business that represents the highest standards of environmental and social impact and to live and breathe this as part of our whole business operandi. Our task now is not to rest on our laurels but to work together as a team, engaging with communities and inspiring others. For Aromatherapy Associates, it’s not just about being best in the world but best for the world. Our aim is to leave a stronger legacy for the brand for people’s wellbeing, the impact we have on the planet and the people we serve.”
Aromatherapy Associates has already changed its way of working with a range of initiatives. These include new wellbeing schemes for staff, implementing measures to ensure diversity across its business, changing its London headquarter to run on 100 per cent renewable energy, employees undertaking voluntary work with the company’s community partners, and measuring and improving the social and environmental performance of its top tier suppliers over time.
It is also putting in place gender and ethnicity pay gap monitoring, a pledge to be carbon neutral and for all plastic packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2023. All its Tier 1 suppliers will be screened, assessed and verified for their environmental, social and governance practices, with the aim of setting new standards for the luxury personal care sector.
Aromatherapy Associates join a growing group of companies reinventing business by pursuing purpose as well as profit. Celebrities and leading public figures are also part of the B Corp community including Jamie Oliver Group; Lily Cole and her company Impossible; Al Gore and his company Generation Investment Management; and actor Jaden Smith’s Just Water.
More than 100,000 businesses have engaged with the B Impact Assessment since its launch in 2006 and today there are 3,500 B Corps worldwide. The process grades brands on a points system that measures five key areas: governance, workers, environment, customers and community. Chris Turner, the executive director of B Lab UK, the non-profit organisation that certifies companies, confirmed they are seeing a “dramatic surge” in the number of businesses looking to become certified:
“In the wake of the pandemic, we’ve seen unprecedented growth. Businesses of all sizes, and across industries, are recognising the need to change how business operates. By becoming a B Corp they make a meaningful commitment to make this change and to prove that business can be a force for good.”
“Welcoming Aromatherapy Associates is particularly exciting because we see the opportunity to build on the trust and leadership of this brand.”
Brands with purpose: not just a nice to have, it’s a pre-requisite for consumers today
Driving positive change for both society and the environment is no longer a nice to do – it’s expected. According to new research1, consumers are no longer happy to align themselves with a company that solely delivers shareholder value.
The research, commissioned by B Lab, found that focusing narrowly on shareholder returns is just not good business anymore. It found:
- 76 per cent believe capitalism isn’t working well or is harmful to the UK economy. Only 19 per cent feel that “capitalism is working well in the UK and does not need tinkering with”.
- 72 per cent believe that businesses should have a legal responsibility to the planet and people alongside maximising profits.
- 76 per cent believe businesses have a responsibility to protect the natural environment.
- Nearly half (47 per cent) of respondees also said that they agree with the statement that businesses have a responsibility to solve social issues such as inequality, poverty and mental health issues.
- 53 per cent were more likely to favour brands that are doing good in the world.
B Corp certification helps to accelerate business growth
As the world starts to recover from the pandemic, businesses around the world are looking to rebuild in a way that puts their people first and protects the communities and the environment on which they rely.
Research By B Lab UK showed that the average year-on-year growth rate of UK B Corporations that had recertified in 2018 was 14 per cent, 28 times higher than the national economic growth of 0.5 per cent. The potential upside of being driven by a wider mission – rather than solely trying to maximize shareholder profit – is something companies are waking up to.
All images credit Fiona Hanson