Home » Behind the B: What goes into becoming the world’s largest travel B Corp?

Behind the B: What goes into becoming the world’s largest travel B Corp?

written by Natalie Kidd March 4, 2022
Intrepid Travel group trip Kenya

Intrepid has just re-certified as the world’s largest travel B Corp, which helps us make good on our pledge to be the best travel company in the world for people and planet. This B Corp month, Intrepid’s Chief People and Purpose Officer, Natalie Kidd, sheds some light on what goes into getting re-certified. Hint: quite a lot.

When it comes to global tourism, both travellers and travel companies have a responsibility to do better. This goes beyond climate. It’s the social, economic and ethical impact of adventure.

We can’t go on travelling the way we used to. It wasn’t sustainable. But things are beginning to change. The travel industry is slowly becoming more collaborative and progressive when it comes to sustainability and ethical tourism.

We’ve tried to really push that at Intrepid, advocating for more climate action. We’ve even released a carbon reduction tool kit that our competitors can use (for free!). We’ve overhauled our business from the inside out, and we want to share that knowledge with as many travellers and travel companies as possible.

7 WAYS BEING A B CORP HAS MADE INTREPID A BETTER BUSINESS

That’s why getting re-certified as a B-Corp is so important in 2022. COVID has shown that some of these problems we’re facing, they’re not problems we can solve ourselves. We need to bring the entire industry with us. We need to show people that, yes, there’s a better way to travel. And if we can encourage others to follow in our footsteps, that’s all that matters.

How to become a B Corp

Earning our original B Corp certification took a lot of work, but it was also just the first step. To stay a B Corp, you need to re-certify every three years. That means, every three years, we have to answer a series of questions about our business and comb through the entire global Intrepid machine – which includes a thousand staff, leaders and crew, and 30+ offices around the world, each of which needs to be vetted. It’s a massive job!

Image: Liam Neal

The B Corp questions are broken down into five areas: Governance, Customer, Workers, Community and Environment. Everything is rigorously audited: I’m talking all the way from our CEO to office supplies and where our energy comes from.

Governance is our board of directors, our policies and procedures, the way we run the business. Workers covers the wages we pay, our working conditions, promotion opportunities, and the diversity of our staff. Community tackles our supply chain, or supply web, in our case – the thousands of companies we rely on to run amazing trips all over the world.

For Customers, we surveyed the long-term effects of travel on Intrepid travellers, and found some really interesting results, particularly when it comes to environmental awareness. It turns out that small group travel is helping a lot of people reconsider the impact of tourism more broadly. We got a lot of great responses from people who were re-thinking how they travel.

I’m proud to say that we actually increased our B Corp score, despite all this. Intrepid went from an 82.7 in 2018 to 91.2 in 2021.

Natalie Kidd – Intrepid Chief People and Purpose Officer

Which brings us to Environment. This measures the footprint of all Intrepid trips and offices, everywhere; the materials we use, the transportation we take, what kind of energy the business consumes, how far our supplies need to travel, how much waste we produce, and what we do with it.

Staying sustainable during COVID-19

What made this really hard last year was gathering all this data during a global pandemic, when the entire travel industry was thrown into chaos. I’m proud to say that we actually increased our B Corp score, despite all this. Intrepid went from an 82.7 in 2018 to 91.2 in 2021. That’s a huge effort, especially because B Corp ups the ante every three years. The whole world of purpose keeps changing, so what was best-in-class ten years ago is basically the bare minimum now. You have to keep raising the bar.

Here’s an example. People’s eyes tend to glaze over when I start talking about supply chains, but this is a big one for us going forward. We want to increase our B Corp supply chain score from 0.6 to 3 points. There’s a lot of late-night, behind-the-scenes work that goes into something like that, and most travellers won’t ever get to see it. But they will feel the impact.

So what’s next for Intrepid?

We’re going to improve our sustainability guidelines and measure our suppliers more closely, but also engage with the chain and help those businesses become better. This is really important. We know from the work we did last year that 1000 of our suppliers, about 88 per cent of them, wanted to hear more from us on sustainability. If Intrepid can set a good example, and teach others how to do it, the benefits can ripple out and affect the entire chain.

This is why B Corp certification really matters in 2022. It takes our belief about balancing purpose with profit and embeds that in the business – legally. It forces us to consider the needs of all stakeholders, not just shareholders. That’s our staff, the communities we visit, our supply chains, our energy providers, everything. It also challenges us, and gives us a framework to keep getting better. It’s how we track our progress, not just against the travel industry, but against all businesses, everywhere.

This work also benefits our travellers, who we know are incredibly conscious about the impact they have, both on the planet and on the people they visit along the way. It means they can travel with us, safe in the knowledge of all the hard work that’s gone on behind the scenes – work that helps make any given Intrepid trip as climate- and community-conscious as possible.

There’s still a lot to be done, of course. But B Corp means we have a framework to keep improving and increasing our positive impact. And whether you’re an Intrepid staff member, traveller, supplier or one of the communities we visit on our trips, everyone gets to benefit from that.  

We’re a little biased, of course, but we think it’s pretty special.

Find out more about what it means to be a B Corp here.

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