Certified goodness: what does B Corp status actually mean?

<span>Employees – known as ‘giffgaffers’ – enjoy a range of benefits leading to high scores in employee engagement surveys, important to the company’s B Corp status</span><span>Photograph: PR</span>
Employees – known as ‘giffgaffers’ – enjoy a range of benefits leading to high scores in employee engagement surveys, important to the company’s B Corp statusPhotograph: PR

Did you know that giffgaff is an ancient Scottish word that means “mutual giving”? You thought it was a made-up, catchy brand name, didn’t you? Well, it turns out that the business is giffgaff by name, giffgaff by nature. Now a certified B Corp, giffgaff is legally accountable for its impact on people and the planet, which is locked into the DNA of the company. In other words, it’s committed to being “up to good”.

Now you’re nodding sagely. Yes, B Corp. Very cool. But, in fact, maybe you don’t really know what a B Corp is. If that’s the case, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know …

Balancing profit with purpose
Achieving B Corp certification isn’t just slapping a green, eco-friendly sticker on your brand – it’s about much more than considering a company’s impact on the environment, although that is a factor. B Corp certification also takes into account how a business treats customers, colleagues and the wider community, as well as how it runs its business.

It’s a rigorous process – a series of checks encompassing internal assessment, external evaluation and final verification, which even delves into the supply chain and double-checks the evidence that the business does what it says it does. Once a company has achieved B Corp certification, there’s no room for complacency because it’s tested every three years to ensure it’s still meeting the standards, or – even better – exceeding its previous score.

So what does this mean for giffgaff? How is the mobile network provider living up to those high standards set by B Lab Global, the certifying body?

Going the extra mile
For a start, giffgaff boasts an impressive refurbished phone marketplace. It’s now one of the top UK mobile phone networks for refurbs, having started selling them in 2016. It offers a range of refurbished phones from various brands, such as Apple and Samsung, at price points to suit every budget. You can pick which condition you’re happy with, from “like new” to “good”, and all models come with at least 80% battery health and a minimum 12-month warranty. The consumer gets a good deal and e-waste is reduced through extending the use of older or unwanted phones.

The mobile phone network is big on recycling in other ways too: the plastic used in its sim cards is from recycled material – and it offers e-sims on compatible devices, embedding the card directly into phones, which eliminates the need for a physical plastic sim altogether. The sim packaging is also made from recycled materials, using sustainably sourced materials that are “kerbside recyclable” – meaning you can simply chuck it into the normal paper recycling bin instead of spending precious time on your local authority website trying to figure out if your council facility will take it or not.

It also dispatches its phones with DPD, whose delivery bags are made of reclaimed material, which is also kerbside recyclable; an example of how giffgaff’s B Corp certification relies on not only its own practices, but those of its suppliers and partners too.

Change begins at home
In 2022, giffgaff’s head office operations were carbon neutral, with the headquarters in Uxbridge featuring solar panels and a living roof, rainwater harvesting, 58 cycle storage spaces and 20 electric car charging points.

Employees – or “giffgaffers” – have flexible work options, and can choose if they want to work from the office, their home or a hybrid model. For those who do make the commute, there are free breakfasts, while everyone’s able to log in to virtual Hiit classes and online yoga. They’re also given five days of paid volunteering each year, and can flex the dates of bank holidays to use time off for a day that means something to them. Benefits that all add up to high scores in employee engagement surveys, contributing to giffgaff’s B Corp certification.

What does it mean for me and my mobile?
Fair enough, I hear you say, but why should I buy a phone from giffgaff, whether refurbished or new? How can I be sure I’ll be treated better than I would with any other provider?

Related: A call to do good: how three inspiring community projects were supported by giffgaff and its customers

Well first off, giffgaff’s sim plans are super-flexible. Not only can you increase or lower your data package as and when you need, but each month giffgaff will email you to tell you if you’re on the right plan based on your data usage – which is probably one of the reasons it was recently named the best pay-as-you-go network by comparison site Uswitch.

Another bonus is the fact that customers are considered “members” at giffgaff, and can join a community of people who support each other using its online forum. The community often comes together to support various charities too, and donations are matched by giffgaff. Its customers have already achieved great things; since 2010, giffgaff’s payback scheme has donated more than £1m to a variety of charitable causes, many of which have been chosen by its members. In 2023 alone, they raised more than £85,000 for various good causes.

Oh, and giffgaff has also pledged there’ll be no mid-contract price rises across its contracts in 2024*, which means you won’t get any nasty price-hike surprises.

Sounds too good to be true?
It does, doesn’t it? There’s no such thing as a “perfect company”, and giffgaff doesn’t claim to be one. It does, however, claim to be “a better way to do mobile”, and its B Corp certification ensures it lives up to those high standards, demonstrating that there are ways of doing business that can deliver value for customers and also for society.

Choosing a mobile phone supplier can be a big commitment – whether you’re looking for reliable service, top-end tech, or finding the best deal to meet the needs of your whole family. There’s a wealth of choice in the market, so how do you know that you’re handing over a chunk of your monthly income to a business that cares about you as a customer?

In a world of greenwashing, false promises and advertising hype, B Corp provides consumers with knowledge, reassurance and the power of choice. The high bar it sets points us to businesses with a conscience that are holding themselves to account as they work to do the right thing for people and the planet.

Originally started in 2009 as a force for good in the mobile phone market, giffgaff claims that “goodness has always run through our veins”. Now it’s got the hard-won certification to prove it.

From flexible sim packages to its huge range of refurbished phones, discover more ways giffgaff is “up to good” at giffgaff.com

*No mid-contract price rises on 18-month contracts purchased before the end of 2024. Fair usage policy, terms and exclusions apply. See giffgaff.com/terms