Category / BU research

The Conversation: B Corp certification won’t guarantee companies really care for people, planet and profit

svobodavpraci, CC BY-SA

Michael O’Regan, Bournemouth University

Weeks after the collapse of his restaurant group and the loss of 1,000 jobs, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver announced that he was creating an “ethical” B Corporation or “B Corp”, a sort of company certification designed to show its holder gives equal weight to people, planet and profit. While it has loosely the same aim as the “triple bottom line” of the social enterprise model, B Corp certification is available to for-profit companies that apply to B Lab, a non-global profit organisation, and pay for it.

B Lab was founded in 2006 by Stanford University alumni and businessmen Jay Coen Gilbert and Bart Houlahan, and former investment banker and Stanford colleague, Andrew Kassoy. There are now more than 2,900 certified B Corps in more than 60 countries, cutting across industries and sectors. Through extensive lobbying and promotion it has expanded worldwide through new local offices. With the number of B Corps opening under the organisation’s UK arm growing at 14% a year, is this really a new way of doing business?

People, planet and profit

On the face of it, the certification should indicate a company’s environmental performance, employee relationships, diversity, involvement in the local community, and the impact a company’s product or service has on those it serves. This in turn can attract staff and consumers seeking socially responsible businesses, boost an established public company’s stock price, and help investors find companies that balance profit and purpose.

In the B Lab certification process, a businesses must sign a “Declaration of Interdependence”, committing it to using “business as a force for good.” The company must modify its governing bylaws to allow directors to “consider stakeholders besides shareholders in company decision-making”. Companies must also disclose information on “any sensitive practices, fines, and sanctions related to the company or its partners”. Certification is done chiefly over the phone, with around 10% selected for more in-depth review. Companies must re-certify every three years.

While B Corp claims that certification balances the interests of shareholders with the interests of workers, customers, communities and the environment, B Corp standards are not legally enforceable. Neither the board nor the corporation are liable for damages if a company fails to meet them. Even the changes in company bylaws remain secret. A business can fill out the initial B Corp Impact Assessment in a few hours, and complete the certification process in between four and eight weeks, finally paying a certification fee of between US$500 and US$50,000, depending on revenue.

B Corp certification is available to any for-profit business around the globe as long as it’s been operating for at least 12 months. Certification is initially self-assessed, and doesn’t override the profit-driven focus of the company.

A cash-generating machine?

B Lab has raised over US$32m since launch, and receives much of its funding from major foundations and organisations such as Prudential, Deloitte LLP, the Rockefeller Foundation, and even the US Agency for International Development. In 2017 it received about US$6m in certification fees, and US$5.6m in donations. Its board members primarily come from the business sector, with B Lab paying US$6m in salaries and compensation in 2017.

In the face of this highly cash-generative activity, B Lab’s rhetoric (“lead a movement”) fails to spell out compelling reasons for certification. B Lab claims that traditional corporations cannot be socially responsible, because they open themselves to liability for not following shareholders interests. But there is no law that explicitly requires directors of businesses to maximise shareholder revenue to the exclusion of all other corporate objectives. European (EU Directive 2014/95/EU) and UK law already push companies to practice sustainability reporting, and British firms have always had the flexibility to amend their articles of association with shareholder consent to reflect their social responsibilities. Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, for example, changed its Articles of Association to state that it “strives to conduct its activities in a financially, environmentally and socially responsible way”.

So while B Lab speaks of seeking to meet the “highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose” it has nevertheless certified companies allegedly involved in tax avoidance, those producing cannabis-related products, for-profit college education companies, corporations working in the prison sector, and those allegedly involved in union busting.

What value does it add?

My research into one of the earliest certified B Corps, CouchSurfing.com, shows how certification can be used to pacify angry consumers and attract investors. Certified companies can simply walk away if they feel being a B Corp no longer suits their profit-making aims or strategy, or if it threatens short-term shareholder profitability. The online marketplace Etsy is one that walked away, while others dropped certification after being bought out by larger companies that had other plans.

There is no directory of former B Corporations that dropped certification or had it removed. The closed nature of a private certifying body that sets and regulates its own standards is problematic, even if well intentioned, and especially so if it seeks to control the process by which certified businesses are held accountable. Certified corporations are as accountable to B Lab as they are to their stakeholders. The lack of full transparency and rigorous vetting in the face of its aggressive expansion indicates that B Lab’s certification should not be seen as a reliable method for certifying corporations to some standard, from the perspective of either the general public, investors or regulators.

Which isn’t to say that the efforts haven’t been worthwhile. B Lab could re-focus and promote new global benchmarks and corporate structures such as low-profit limited liability companies (L3Cs) in the US, or community interest companies (CICs) and multi-stakeholder co‑operatives in the UK. Rather than striving to become a political-economic actor spending millions on creating and marketing a private company certification offering brand building and expensive workshops, B Lab might consider whether its market-driven certification offers solutions to market-produced problems.

Jamie Oliver is largely transparent in his business values and commitment to social responsibility. He would be better to say “goodbye and big love as ever” to B Lab as he did in his goodbye letter to staff, and focus instead on working with co-operatives, worker and community-owned businesses, and other non-profits that are building a new economy now – without the need to buy a certificate.The Conversation

Michael O’Regan, Senior Lecturer in Events & Leisure, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Media industries haemorrhage experience

Richard Wallis writes:

A new study of Media Production graduates’ long-term career trajectories exposes industry’s high levels of wastage.

Like consumable goods that come labelled with a ‘best before’ date, it seems that media careers may also come with a limited shelf-life. Research published this week suggests that media industries have a problem with long-term retention. The study is one of a series we have undertaken to investigate the career trajectories of our students. The more that we understand about their post-BU working lives, the better we can prepare them for the world of work, and the more effectively we can be the critical friend providing much-needed thought-leadership for industry.

The study took as its focus the BA Media Production (BAMP) ‘Class of ‘95’: the cohort of Media Production students who arrived at Bournemouth at the point at which the institution received its university status. These BU first-generation graduates are now in mid-career, and their working lives have spanned a period of unprecedented upheaval within the industries that they aspired to work in. The study has exposed a feature of media work that has wider implications for the way media industries operate.

We have long known that media work is not for the faint-of-heart, and that the transition from University into work can be extremely challenging. Many previous studies (including our own) have attempted to examine some of the difficulties graduates face, particularly during the early stages of their careers. In this study we set out to understand the way in which the demands of media work are experienced through the prism of age, and life stage. We were able to interview a sample of 28 of these graduates: just over one third of the ’95 cohort.

What we learned surprised us. We had thought that the major challenges of media work were those experienced in early career. What we found caused us to question this presumption. Although we confirmed much of what previous studies have highlighted about early careers, sustaining the relentless pressures of such work over the longer-term transpired to be just as significant a problem. Many of our contributors talked fondly, and sometimes passionately, about work they had found to be enormously rewarding, but this ‘labour of love’ had become increasingly difficult to sustain over time. The rate of attrition by mid-career is striking. This presents an important challenge to the media industries. Whilst they become increasingly reliant on well-educated, highly motivated neophytes who are inexpensive, willing, and able to be flexible and self-exploiting, they are heamorrhaging experience, honed skills, and organizational memory. This is a development that, ultimately, cannot be for the good of the individual worker, the media organisations in which they work, or the Creative Industries as a sector.

 

See: Wallis, R., van Raalte, C. and Allegrini, S. (2019) The ‘shelf-life’ of a media career: a study of the long-term career narratives of media graduates. Creative Industries Journal https://doi.org/10.1080/17510694.2019.1664099

Doctoral and Advanced NIHR Fellowship Awards are now open for applications

The Doctoral and Advanced NIHR Fellowship Awards are now open to support individuals to undertake exciting and impactful research on their trajectory to becoming future leaders.

Now with increased flexibility and options to include clinical time, they support people at various points of their development from initial pre-doctoral training to senior post-doctoral research.

The NIHR has also partnered with seven charities to offer jointly-funded Partnership Fellowships at Doctoral and Advanced (post-doctoral) levels to utilise the strengths and expertise of both partners.

What do the Doctoral and Advanced Fellowships offer?

Round 3 Doctoral Fellowship – application deadline 1pm, 17 December 2019

The NIHR Doctoral Fellowship is a three year full-time award that supports individuals from all professional backgrounds to undertake a PhD in an area of NIHR research. This Fellowship may be taken up on a part-time basis between 50-100% whole time equivalent (WTE).

Clinical applicants can include up to 20% clinical time as part of the Fellowship.

Need help with your application? Find out tips from Professor Gary Frost, Chair of the NIHR Doctoral Fellowship Selection Committee.

Find out more

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Round 3 Advanced Fellowship – application deadline 1pm, 3 December 2019

The NIHR Advanced Fellowship is for those at post-doctoral level and aimed at several specific points of a researcher’s career development. It is between 2 and 5 years and can be completed on a full or part-time basis (between 50-100% WTE).

They are also available with a ‘clinical academic’ option where clinical applicants can request up to 40% of their time be dedicated to clinical service/development, which would be covered by the award.

Find out what makes an excellent Advanced Fellowship application from Professor Jayne Parry, Chair of the NIHR Advanced Fellowship Selection Committee.

Find out more

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NIHR-Charity Partnership Fellowships

Last year the NIHR Academy announced it would partner with leading UK medical research charities for the first-time, to offer jointly funded NIHR-Charity Partnership Fellowships at both Doctoral and Advanced (post-doctoral) level.

The aim, as part of the newly restructured NIHR Fellowships programme is to harness the strengths and expertise of both partners by adding value and quality in order to make the greatest impact.

Jointly funded NIHR Charity Partnership Fellowships enable researchers to:

  • Be part of an active and supportive research community; maintaining and building a relationship with both the NIHR and charity partner.
  • Engage with and receive valuable input from patient groups, making the most of the patient engagement/involvement opportunities available.
  • Gain greater research exposure through a variety of media and communication channels.
  • Potential events/conferences/networking opportunities available from the NIHR Academy and charity partner.

Please note that Doctoral and Advanced Fellowships now have two rounds per annum that open in April and October.

 

And don’t forget, your local branch of the NIHR RDS (Research Design Service) is based within the BU Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) on the 5th floor of Royal London House. Feel free to pop in and see us, call us on 61939 or send us an email.

ACORN Funding Workshop for Early Career Researchers

The current round of ACORN funding is open, and the closing date for applications is 30th October. For those considering applying, this workshop is for you!

Monday 21st October   15:00 – 17:00 at the Talbot Campus in the CREATE Lecture Theatre (Fusion)

The ACORN fund is internal to BU and is aimed at giving Early Career Researchers an opportunity to hone both application and project management skills and an opportunity to receive constructive feedback from the funding panel members. Details of the scheme are available in the Acorn Fund Policy and there is a separate ACORN Fund application form.

If you would like to attend the ACORN workshop, please email acorn@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Free online course! – Improving Healthcare Through Clinical Research

Interested in clinical research and what’s involved? Are you contemplating a career in healthcare or the life sciences, or, do you want to find out more about the role of clinical research in improving healthcare?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, then why not sign up to FutureLearn’s Improving Healthcare Through Clinical Research course?

The course has been developed by the University of Leeds and will be available from today, 7th October, via this link.

It is completely free and all online, lasting 4 weeks.

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. By completing the course you will have achieved 16 hours of CPD time.

Remember – support is on offer at BU if you are thinking of introducing your research ideas into the NHS – email the Research Ethics mailbox, and take a look at the Clinical Governance blog.

ADRC wins the Nutrition Resource of the Year at the 2019 Complete Nutrition Awards

The Nutrition Resource of the Year is made up of four resources called Nutrition and Dementia Care: A toolkit for health and care staff. The toolkit is to provide freely available resources to deliver person-centred nutritional care in the area of dementia. The toolkit has been used all over the UK and overseas, as far afield as Australia and is the WINNER of the 2019 CN Award for Nutrition Resource of the Year!

Both Professor Jane Murphy and Gill Hooper represented the team by attending the 2019 CN Award ceremony last Thursday 29th September in London.

In the photo: Gill Hooper (Research Assistant) and Professor Jane Murphy (Professor of Nutrition and Co-Director of ADRC)

The team that produced the toolkit includes Professor Jane Murphy, Gill Hooper (linked with the Greater Manchester Nutrition and Hydration programme), Dr Joanne Holmes and Caroline Jones.

 

In the photo: Caroline Jones, Dr Joanne Holmes and Professor Jane Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

The toolkit comprises:

  1. Eating and Drinking Well: Supporting People Living with Dementia workbook
  2. Eating and Drinking Well Training Video
  3. Eating and Drinking Well Nutrition leaflet
  4. Eating and Drinking Well with Dementia: A Guide for Care Staff

It is available to download for free on our specific ADRC training page, please visit: https://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/centres-institutes/ageing-dementia-research-centre/eating-drinking-well-dementia-toolkit.

Just launched!

We have just launched our new Eating and Drinking Well with Dementia: A Guide for Family Carers and Friends which will be available to download from the ADRC training page soon.

 Please visit our training page and spread the word of our training resources.

 

 

The CN Awards* provide the chance for all readers, advertisers and contributors of CN
Magazines to come together to recognise the achievements of those whose great work
has made a significant difference within the nutrition industry – whether an individual,
group or organisation. For further information about the CN Awards, visit: nutrition2me.com/cn-awards

*The annual CN Awards were launched in 2010 by Complete Media & Marketing Ltd. (CM2) – the publishers of Complete Nutrition (CN)
Magazines. CM2 do not endorse any particular individual’s, group’s, organisation’s or company’s products, services, resources, views or
opinions. For further details on the CN Awards, visit: nutrition2me.com/cn-awards

RKEDF – Good Clinical Practice ‘Lite’

On Tuesday 15th October, RDS are running a 2 hour workshop on the standards of Good Clinical Practice. If you’re running your own clinical research, or are planning to in the future then this workshop is for you.

This workshop is designed to ensure that Researchers are equipped to conduct clinical research in accordance with the international standard.

The workshop will cover other standards and regulations, roles in clinical research, participant eligibility and data collection, safety reporting and closing down your study.

By the end of this workshop you will have an understanding about:

  • The importance of protecting the rights, safety and wellbeing of research participants
  • The importance of ensuring that research data are reliable
  • The roles and responsibilities of those involved in clinical research
  • The different stages of the clinical research pathway

If you’re interested in attending then reserve your place via Organisational Development.

Engaging with the media – scary or essential?

Wonkhe have an excellent new blog out: Why aren’t there more academic experts in the media?

Written by Justin Shaw, a HE Consultant at Communications Management, it is part of his campaign to ensure the academic voice is heard. He would like to see a proliferation in colleagues sharing their evidence-based expertise both with policy makers and the population.

For the blog Justin interviewed 30 of the most prolific ‘media active’ academics to understand the enablers and barriers in taking up media opportunities and what they would say to media-hesitant colleagues to help them take the next step.

Here are some excerpts – but do make time to read the full (short) blog:

The belief that it is far better to anticipate, lead, and take control of media opportunities (rather than suffer in response or serve as a moaning bystander) is one of the main findings that has emerged from interviews with some of the UK’s most committed “media active” academics.

A significant finding is that these academic media advocates simply now regard working with journalists as part of the job. Not only that, but they also stress that it is now (more than ever) a duty and an obligation – especially in an era of growing media input from the subjective and the “ill-informed” (most commonly defined as: shoot-from-the-hip politicians or rent-a-quote personalities drawn from reality TV shows).

While their journey as a go-to media expert has been challenging, and certainly there are some hard lessons to learn on the way, they say that we have now come to a point where academics just have to be bolder, must stand-up and project their knowledge, their evidence, their experience, and they must simply just seize the initiative. Without taking this stand then academics will be crowded out as the voices of reason

“So often politicians and policy-makers present things as facts, but there’s no evidence base for this, so I feel obliged to point out that there is a big body of work and evidence that isn’t being drawn upon, just being the critical voice to say “have you thought about the implications of what you are saying?”. The value of it is that it allows the public to have a more rounded view of the situation, so they can make their own minds up, based on evidence.”

The blog goes on to explain that the skills of an academic researcher and lecturer are the best type of skills to prepare for media engagement. So in short, you’re already got it in the bag.

The blog concluded by considering how the professional services teams around the academic, such as BU’s Press Office, BU’s RDS Impact and Research Comms colleagues, and BU’s Policy Team, can be useful additional support mechanisms – both for media experienced and novice colleagues. Get in touch if you’d like more support or to discuss how you could connect with the media or parliament.

RKEDF – Research Ethics @ BU workshop

On Tuesday 8 October 2019, RDS are running a practical 2 hour workshop on the review and approval process at BU, so if you’re in the process of putting together an ethics application or you’d like a refresher, this workshop is for you.

The workshop is designed to assist Researchers (staff) in the process of obtaining ethical approval.

The review and approval process will be discussed, including how risk is identified. What makes a good an application and how to create and submit an online ethics checklist.

By the end of this workshop you will have an understanding about:

  • The process for gaining ethical approval
  • How to complete an online ethics checklist
  • What makes a good application

If you’re interested in attending then reserve your place via Organisational Development.

NERC standard grants – internal competition extended

NERC introduced demand management measures in 2012. These were revised in 2015 to reduce the number and size of applications from research organisations for NERC’s discovery science standard grant scheme. Full details can be found in the BU policy document for NERC demand management measures available here.

As at January 2019, BU has been capped at one application per standard grant round. The measures only apply to NERC standard grants (including new investigators). An application counts towards an organisation, where the organisation is applying as the grant holding organisation (of the lead or component grant). This will be the organisation of the Principal Investigator of the lead or component grant.

BU process

As a result, BU has introduced a process for determining which application will be submitted to each NERC Standard Grant round. This will take the form of an internal competition, which will include peer review. The next available standard grant round is 14th January 2020. The deadline for internal Expressions of Interest (EoI) which will be used to determine which application will be submitted has been extended until 11th October 2019.  The EoI form, BU policy for NERC Demand Management Measures and process for selecting an application can be found here: I:\RDS\Public\NERC Demand Management 2020.

NERC have advised that where a research organisation submits more applications to any round than allowed under the cap, NERC will office-reject any excess applications, based purely on the time of submission through the Je-S system (last submitted = first rejected). However, as RDS submit applications through Je-S on behalf of applicants, RDS will not submit any applications that do not have prior agreement from the internal competition.

Following the internal competition, the Principal Investigator will have access to support from RDS, and will work closely with Research Facilitators and Funding Development Officers to develop the application. Access to external bid writers will also be available.

Appeals process

If an EoI is not selected to be submitted as an application, the Principal Investigator can appeal to Professor Tim McIntyre-Bhatty, Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Any appeals must be submitted within ten working days of the original decision. All appeals will be considered within ten working days of receipt.

RDS Contacts

Please contact Lisa Andrews, RDS Research Facilitator – andrewsl@bournemouth.ac.uk or Jo Garrad, RDS Funding Development Manager – jgarrad@bournemouth.ac.uk if you wish to submit an expression of interest.

 

Photo of the week: ‘Environmental impact of the Rohingya refugee crisis in a photo’

Telling a story of research through photography

The ‘photo of the week’ is a weekly series featuring photographs taken by BU academics and students for our Research Photography Competition which took place earlier this year.

These provide a snapshot into some of the incredible research taking place across the BU community. 

This week’s photo of the week was taken by Mehidi Chowdhury and is titled;

‘Environmental impact of the Rohingya refugee crisis in a photo’

‘The photo has been taken during my visit to the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The Kutupalong camp is the largest refugee camp in the world hosting more than half a million refugees. The visit funded by BU’s Global Challenges Research Fund took place in August 2018; one year after the latest mass exodus of Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh. The environmental impact of the crisis is visibly devastating. Forest areas have been cleared to make shelters for refugees. No large trees, birds and animals can be seen. I saw some Rohingya and local Bangladeshi settlements side by side. The demarcation is clear: Bangladeshi settlements are covered with trees and Rohingya settlements are not. The photo captures just that’

If you have any questions about the Photo of the Week series or the Research Photography Competition please email research@bournemouth.ac.uk

Funding opportunity : ISCF healthy ageing trailblazers: stage 1

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to invest up to £2 million in stage 1 of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Healthy Ageing Trailblazers.

The aim of the Trailblazers is to encourage businesses and public sector led collaborations, including social enterprises, to develop and demonstrate how products, services and business models which support people as they age will be adopted at scale.

This is stage 1 of a 2-stage competition. You can apply for a grant of up to £100,000 to conduct research and develop a business plan. For stage 1 of the competition you can apply as a single applicant. Stage 2 proposals must be collaborative.

Summary:

Deadline : 27 November 2019, 12noon

Award (Stage 1) : Up to £100,000

Dates : start by 1 June 2020 and end by 30 October 2020 (last up to 5 months).

For more information, please see here. Please contact Ehren Milner (ext 68267) or Lisa Andrews (ext 68258) in the Funding Development Team if you wish to discuss this opportunity further.