Kin + Carta’s Journey to Becoming the First Certified B Corp on the London Stock Exchange: Insights from CEO Kelly Manthey
We talk to Kelly Manthey, Global CEO at Kin + Carta, about staying on top of ESG goals, Kin + Carta’s journey to becoming the first certified B Corp on the London Stock Exchange and why keeping up with digital transformation is crucial.
Sustainability is ever-growing in importance. What are your top tips for companies to stay on top of ESG goals?
An ESG statement on a website just isn’t going to cut it. If you’re not actually acting on it, it’s just lip service. It’s akin to greenwashing. To really keep on top of your ESG goals, there needs to be viable, quantitative action, and ultimately verification that what is being done is making a difference. If you are making yourself accountable, then you are going to strive to meet those goals.
You also need to be taking your people on this journey. Get buy-in. Be transparent about why ESG is so important in a wider business sense. It’s a trend that’s only going to grow, and soon every business will need to be considered a sustainable one. If you put ESG at the centre of your business objectives, you are painting a clear picture – this is important.
And shout about the successes. We were awarded the Microsoft US “Sustainability Changemaker” Partner of the Year Award in 2022, beating 800 nominations from across the US. We look at these awards as an opportunity to not only recognise what we’re doing but also to be an example for other businesses. With more awards and businesses earning recognition in this space, it says that there is real momentum in driving change and shows other businesses what is possible.
As CEO you were instrumental in Kin + Carta’s journey to becoming the first certified B Corp on the LSE. Can you tell us about this journey?
We became the first publicly traded business on the London Stock Exchange to achieve B Corp Certification on 1st December 2021. At the time, we were only one of less than 20 public B Corps worldwide, so we were very much trailblazers.
It was the accumulation of a three-year journey that started with us laying down the strategy for how we were going to transform Kin + Carta into a pure digital transformation consultancy. At the very centre of this shift was becoming a responsible business. If we wanted to build a technology consulting firm of the future, then it was vital that we also focused on building a better future.
We have an inherent responsibility to make sure that the products, services and experiences we build are accessible to everyone, inclusive of everyone, and sustainable for everyone.
So going for B Corp certification made total sense. It provides a rigorous framework for assessing an organisation’s social responsibility, provides an independent third-party review, and provides a certification that is globally recognised. Not just by businesses, but by consumers too!
As a public company, it meant we had to amend our articles of association. This meant committing the Board to a “triple bottom line” approach to decision-making – balancing considerations around people, profit and the planet. This amendment needed a vote by shareholders. It was passed by over 99.9%, showing that our Board, our management team, our employees and our investors were aligned. It gave both momentum and permanence to our social responsibility ambitions.
As a Certified B Corp, Kin + Carta’s triple bottom line focus on people, the planet, and profit is at the core of everything you do. Can you talk about the lessons you’ve learnt in becoming a certified B Corp when you’re listed?
B Corp has made us rethink many of our processes. Becoming a B Corp has challenged our thinking, forced us into upholding higher standards, and ultimately driven more accountability throughout the business.
The B Corp certification is just the beginning. Someone in the business said that the ‘B’ in ‘B Corp’ could stand for “basecamp”. We’re at the start. For us to be truly socially responsible, we need to be continually challenging how much more responsible we can be.
And while we may have achieved B Corp status, what we have learnt is that balancing people, profit and the planet is really hard. You need to be constantly agile and willing to always adapt and change. It means constantly rethinking how we consider the societal impact of the software we create, how we create it and who’s involved in the process.
And even though you would like this change to be quick, it often takes longer than you want. So it’s worth reminding yourself that the journey to becoming a responsible business is a marathon, not a sprint.
How important is it for businesses to keep up with digital transformation and what do you expect to see in terms of this in the coming years?
It’s as much about choosing the right partner as about keeping up with the latest technologies in digital transformation. Any digital transformation consultancy worth its salt will be pushing the boundaries in a responsible way, ensuring that its clients are utilising the most innovative and cutting-edge digital solutions within their business.
However, this needs to be done from a data- and customer-centric approach. Digital transformation is only effective, and therefore transformative, if it’s actually doing something that makes a clear difference to the business’s clients. It can help a business be more efficient driving cost savings, driving more customer value and ultimately helping a company grow.
This is why the utilisation of data is so important. Get your data house in order, and you can achieve true digital transformation that has a discernible impact on your customer’s experience with your business.
Can you talk about the challenges you faced around ethical modern leadership (including diversity) through to innovation, sustainability and tech (including GenAI), and how you overcame these challenges?
We’ve recently seen a massive technology shift brought on by the widespread accessibility of emerging AI technology. The modern leader must balance two forces – internal evolution and external customer product/service evolution.
As a certified B Corp, we have set our own internal goals for the changes we want to drive into our own business like diversity goals, achieving carbon neutrality, giving a % of profit to philanthropies, fostering the internal promotion and growth of our employees among other priorities.
We also are using our skills to drive more impact through the solutions we build for our clients. We work with some of the world’s largest and most recognisable brands on their business-critical technology initiatives. We blend our technical skills with consideration for creating more accessible and inclusively designed applications, using our cloud modernization skills to support building more carbon-efficient solutions and embracing the next wave in AI technology through looking at ways to reduce the bias in data sets.
I firmly believe that businesses can be a platform for change but to drive sustained change requires embedding better practices and an innovation mindset into core processes and ways of working.
There is growing talk of a brain drain in the UK. How does Kin + Carta address the talent shortage? How are you retaining and attracting talent?
I can’t speak exclusively for the UK market, but there is certainly talent out there in our experience. Big Tech is having “a moment”, and with it an influx of skilled talent hitting the market, that’s quite exciting.
We want to be attracting, training, retaining and growing the best talent so we’re always evolving and improving our Employee Value Proposition. We are committed to remaining nimble and responsive to adapt policies that fill gaps for our people, as we did with the recent roll-out of our transitioning at work policies.
Our B Corp certification is also a great talent attractor. More and more people are looking to work for a socially responsible business that can help make a difference in the world. We really lean into that aspect of our business, alongside the great and interesting work we do.