Interim report (2020-2021)

Grain Sustainability Impact Report

Grain was founded in 2002 as a branding and design consultancy. Over the years our work shifted more and more into brand strategy and communications, and sustainability. From January 2018 to October 2020 we were merged with international advocacy, branding and communications consultancy Leidar, where we worked with clients including Oak Foundation and Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation, and continued our work on an electric motorbike for the Indian market.

With a desire to make a substantial positive impact on business, in November 2020 we returned to Grain and shifted our focus entirely onto sustainability consultancy. Our mission is to help businesses become champions for people and the planet.

Since 2008, we have been members of 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of our revenue to environmental nonprofits. Over the years, we have supported the Woodland Trust, the Marine Conservation Society, TRAID, Trees for Cities, and the Centre for Alternative Technology. We recently helped bring on board Plant Your Future and Apps for Good as 1% for the Planet nonprofit partners.

This is an interim Impact Report. Our financial year is the same as the calendar year, and we only had two active months as Grain in 2020, so the first full report will be for 2021. In the meantime we are sharing this interim report which we look forward to updating at the beginning of 2022.

ACHIEVEMENT: The B Corporation framework has long been an inspiration for us, and we have now submitted our B Impact Assessment.

ACHIEVEMENT: Grain director Madelyn Postman trained as a B Leader in October 2021 in order to find out more about B Corps and to help other companies become Certified B Corps.

Framework

For this report, we are using the B Corporation framework based on the open source B Impact Assessment tool which looks at five key areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. Because of Grain’s current structure, with two owner/directors and the rest of the workers as independent consultants, the Workers topics relevant to Grain appear under the other four areas.

Governance​

Grain Limited is a private limited company, no. 04379393 registered in England and Wales. Our registered address is 5 Cornfield Terrace, Eastbourne BN21 4NN and we have a virtual address in London.

Grain is owned by Madelyn Postman and Christoph Geppert, who are also the two directors of the company.

The whole Grain team, whether directors, employees or independent associates, adheres to our Code of Ethics.

We have a non-fiduciary advisory board made up of the two directors, plus three of our independent associates – Amber Harrison, Mark Carlin, and Mary Pearson – and we are currently recruiting a sixth member who will not be part of Grain’s day-to-day work.

ACHIEVEMENT: To reflect Grain’s mission and responsibility to wider stakeholders — rather than existing solely for the benefit of shareholders — in September 2021 we changed our Articles of Association. The new Articles are available to view on the Companies House website (7 Sept 2021 Memorandum and Articles of Association).

Community

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Grain’s independent associates are currently 80% female and there is representation of minorities, differently-abled people, and LGBTQ+ people. We are currently recruiting for a Kickstart position for someone aged 16-24 on Universal Credit.

Our KPI is to always have at least 50% female independent associates, with continued participation of underrepresented populations.

We are brand ambassadors of Includability, a recruitment platform which calls itself “The home of inclusive employers”.

We track diversity of ownership among our key suppliers.

Economic impact

ACHIEVEMENT: We recently opened a business current account with Triodos, a B Corp which is Ethical Consumer magazine’s top pick for Ethical Business Banking. (Due to overwhelming demand, the bank was not accepting business applications for quite a few months.)

We use Starling when a debit card is needed (not currently offered by Triodos) and Wise for foreign currency transactions.

Civic engagement & giving

The two Grain directors and two associates are based in the Chilterns. Madelyn and one of the associates, Yanjie Wang, volunteer for local organisation Sustainable Amersham, which is working with individuals and businesses to help protect people and the environment. Sustainable Amersham’s current projects are: Green Energy, Learn & Act and Plastic Free Amersham.

Madelyn serves on the UK & Ireland Steering Committee of 1% for the Planet, supporting the nonprofit in raising its profile, recruiting members, and facilitating community engagement. As of November 2021, there are nearly 578 business members and 82 individual members of 1% for the Planet in the UK & Ireland. About 70% of current UK & Ireland members have joined since the beginning of 2020.

The average per capita time for directors’ volunteering is 3.75%, equivalent to 9.5 working days per year, 19 days in total.

As a member of 1% for the Planet, we give 1% of our turnover to nonprofits, currently Plant Your Future and Apps for Good.

Volunteering and charitable giving

0
days per year of directors' time volunteered
1 %
of turnover donated to environmental nonprofits
Supply chain management

We screen our suppliers for:

  • Compliance with all local laws and regulations, including those related to social and environmental performance
  • Positive practices beyond what is required by regulations
  • Third-party certifications related to positive social and/or environmental performance


This includes giving preference to members of 1% for the Planet and B Corps as suppliers whenever possible.

There is a formal routine process in place for independent associates to give and receive post-project performance feedback. All of our independent associates are verified to either work on a time-bound basis, split their time with work for other clients, or have been offered employment, and all independent associates are paid at least the London Living Wage.

Environment​

Environmental management

Grain has no physical office. The directors and all independent associates work from home. We have a London address for post and rent meeting rooms as needed, often with The Office Group at the Marylebone Station location.

We minimise in-person meetings, holding mostly virtual team, client, and supplier meetings.

Environmental stewardship at Grain is managed with:

  • Information about good environmental practices in home offices
  • A policy encouraging environmentally preferred products and practices in home offices, including a list of environmentally preferred vendors for office supplies
  • A policy for the safe disposal of e-waste and other hazardous materials

Our full home working guidelines are available here.

Air & climate

The electricity for the home of Grain’s two (married) directors is 100% renewable, supplied by Ecotricity, rated a “Best Buy” by Ethical Consumer magazine because it invests in building new sources of renewable energy. The gas, also supplied by Ecotricity, is carbon neutral.

2019 emissions: Scope 1 is 0.8851 tCOe and Scope 2 is 0.3658 tCOe. The emissions were calculated by taking 10% of the total Scope 1 and 2 emissions of the home of Grain’s two directors.

GOAL: We have made a commitment to net zero by 2030 at the latest with the SME Climate Hub, part of the Race To Zero campaign.

Customers

Current Grain clients represent

£ 0
total turnover​
0
total employees​

Since November 2020, we have consulted for a variety of clients in sectors where changing sustainability practices can have a significant impact:

  • Aviation
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Housing
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Packaging
  • Plastics
  • Technology
  • Transport


GOAL: 
Our aim is to onboard at least one logistics client by the end of 2022.

We would like to continue the focus on sustainability consulting, with further revenue coming from branding, design, and communications support for our clients.

We are using the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) framework and have one client we are supporting with their ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System) certification.

GOAL: Support at least two more clients with their ISO 14001 certification; onboard by the end of 2022.

Currently we are helping one client on their path to becoming a Certified B Corporation and Madelyn has completed her training to become a B Leader.

GOAL: Onboard at least three more clients who would like B Corp support by the end of 2022.

Customer stewardship

As a service business, our focus is on the work we do for our clients, helping them become champions for people and the planet. This work and these relationships are vital to us. We safeguard the work and relationships with:

  • Systems and processes to ensure that our work meets our clients’ expectations, with the aim to exceed expectations.
  • Customer service feedback or complaint mechanisms
  • Monitoring of client satisfaction
  • Assessment of the outcomes produced for our clients through our services
  • Continual improvement of our services based on client and employee feedback
  • Policies for ethical marketing and customer engagement
  • Management of the privacy and security of client data (GDPR)
Impact Business Model

The B Corp framework includes Impact Business Models (IBMs), which are “the ways that a business is designed to create a specific positive benefit/outcome for one of its stakeholders. They may be based on their product, a particular process or activity, or the structure of the business.” It is “applicable if your company’s products/services improve the social or environmental impact of your client organizations (e.g. general sustainability consulting).” Our consulting improves the operational practices of our clients.

This isn't the end

In early 2022, we look forward to writing our full 2021 Impact Report. Shifting our focus from branding and design to sustainability consulting has been the most satisfying professional step we’ve ever taken, and we’re really excited about everything yet to come. So watch this space!