Concept for - Meet the B Corp Champion

In this new series, we introduce our B Corp Champions. Spread across all teams and sectors these dedicated individuals share their knowledge on B Corp, to not only improve practices in our own firm, but to help others implement their own changes.

For this edition, we introduce Steve Panton, partner in our Commercial Dispute Resolution team.

Can you tell us why you wanted to become a B Corp Champion and how it fits in with your role at Stephens Scown?

The answer is really very simple. It’s all about wanting to promote shared values.

I joined the firm last year to lead and develop the firm’s regulatory compliance and enforcement practice. The deciding factor was because Stephens Scown’s culture and values were the same as mine.

As a B Corp Champion, I want to play my part in helping maintain our high standards of social and environmental performance and honouring our commitment of balancing purpose and profit. My role at Stephens Scown is helping clients to operate responsibly and to prioritise and protect the wellbeing of their employees, a role which fits perfectly with being a B Corp Champion!

What changes have you seen within your team since becoming a B Corp?

The B Corp principles are reflected in the team’s everyday behaviours and I’m proud to say I have witnessed this first hand through my involvement with teams and sectors across the firm. There have been a number of changes that I have seen since such as the Employment team leading a talk through the Business Network’s Positive Nature Network, designed to connect businesses with the planet in a greener way, and decision-making and advice based around sustainability in the Mining and Minerals team.

In our team, which is Commercial Dispute Resolution (CDR) for me, two changes in particular stand out.

Firstly, we are constantly looking at how we work so that whenever possible the decisions we make have a positive impact, focused on always putting people first and ensuring that a healthy work/life balance is maintained. The issue or strategy is often simple and straightforward to implement but very effective. An example is the introduction of a new diary tool so that all members of the team know where colleagues are in any given week. We are already a close-knit team, but this initiative has made everyone feel even more connected and ensures face to face contact and, when required, support is always available across our offices.

Secondly, although many colleagues have been involved in volunteering and charitable work for years, as a group, we now actively search out organisations and causes in the South West to help. This is down to everyone appreciating the importance of social impact and supporting local groups and communities where we work. The positive change brought about by B Corp certification includes several “Team Giving Back” initiatives ranging from an inner-city environmental project through to creating a young persons’ enterprise programme. These examples highlight our commitment to the communities which we serve.

We also have team members who are Trustees of local charities, such as Taunton East Development Trust and others who are involved in local community interest groups. This actual involvement assists in creating awareness and opportunities for other team members.

Why do you think it’s important for a business to consider becoming a B Corp?

The benefits of B Corp certification are numerous for large and small businesses, showing that balancing profit and purpose really does have a positive effect.

Certification is increasingly being viewed as a sign that an organisation is credible, ethical and has robust and effective governance and legal practices in place, building trust and loyalty with clients and customers. People also prefer to support businesses who share the same values. It should therefore come as no surprise that B Corps tend to perform better on average that non-certified businesses.

Recent research shows that small and medium-sized organisations who are certified have greater diversity and employee retention rates, higher levels of innovation and faster growth in turnover. Significantly, B Corps also have the same likelihood of success at securing external finance as non-certified companies.

Since certification, we have shared our experiences and built relationships with other B Corps and have also helped a wide range of businesses who are considering becoming a B Corp to understand what is involved in the certification process and how best to prepare. Collaboration is essential to many businesses across the UK. It is also a core value of the B Global Network and the B Corp Community.

Lastly can you share with us something you do personally at home or at work that has either a positive impact on the environment or wellbeing of others?

Two of my main interests outside of work are history and conservation. I have been fortunate enough to combine these over the years by being an active member of our local historical conservation and preservation society. The group of hardworking volunteers help maintain the village’s centuries-old Guildhall as well as managing and protecting green spaces, including a meadow, an area of woodland and a motte and bailey fortification built in the early twelfth century.  Community cohesion and the wellbeing of those living in and around the village are also at the heart of the society. Regular events are held throughout the year that bring together young and old residents, some of which last until the early hours!

Stephens Scown is one of only a small handful of law firms in the UK with B Corp status so please get in touch if you would like to know more about getting B Corp certified.